or VHS: video house safari


For those just tuning in: what I'm doing in this series is heading down to the local video store and finding interesting movies I've never heard of. For younger readers, a "video store" is an establishment that you can walk or drive to and rent Video Home System cassettes, also known as VHS tapes, from an actual person and take it home for your own entertainment purposes (you gotta bring it back to the store when you're done, though.)

I'm basing my selections on the outrageous video boxes, the kind that helped us decide whether a movie looked like it was worth our time back in the days before the internet started telling us everything there is to know about every film before they're even released. Then I'm writing about my VHS safari.

This is a bittersweet entry in my ongoing Video Oddities series, the first I've written since the closing of Alexandria's famous Video Vault. Having access to their weird and wonderful library was the impetus behind this experiment, and now that amazing catalog has been scattered unto the winds. I'll find some way to keep finding odd and interesting titles to review and keep the series going, but the truth is I'd much rather be strolling the isles of the Vault (I mean "aisles" of course.. .I guess I'm just itching to get to this week's movie) than scrounging for bootlegs and vhs tapes long out of distribution. But I'll forge on in the name of video, may it rest in peace. What a shame, huh? Just think: if we still had the format, Avatar could have been promoted as "coming soon... to Na'video." Too bad James Cameron, it's the kind of technology you've been advancing that killed the possibility of such a witty advertising campaign for good. (Of course I guess you could still say Avatar is coming to "Blue" Ray...but that joke would probably be lost on most viewers.)

Also I want to apologize for the eight month gap between this entry and the last one. I had most of this written several weeks ago, but my old laptop had an accident and I had to start over from scratch. That is, I had to start over from Old Scratch!

(Please don't let that joke discourage you from continuing on.)

{the VIDEO ODDITIES index}

video oddity #5:

efren c. piñon, 1983

"Satan has left his killing floor -
Satan, his fire burns no more!"

~ Bruce Dickinson, "Killing Floor"

Great scholars debated it for centuries; no educated concensus was ever reached. It is simply one of the most fiercely argued theological riddles of all time, a question that has become the religious equivalent of "If God can really do anything, can He create a rock so heavy that He can barely lift it?" (I guess that is a religious question - moving on.) Its origin itself is a mystery: some say it first popped up in De Natura Deorum, Cicero's dialogue on Stoic and Epicurean philosophies, while others claim it appeared as early as 360 BC in the author's introduction to Timaeus by Plato or as an extended footnote in Aristotle's Metaphysics. Muhammed edh-Dhib may have found it etched in the walls of the eleven caves where he discovered the Dead Sea Scrolls; Charlemagne is rumored to have had a Latin inscription of it gracing his banners during his campaign against the Moors for his troops to contemplate as they marched to glory. The only thing we can be certain of is that nobody dared resurrect it in the modern age until the late 20th century, when Paragon Video boldly incorporated it into one of their vhs box designs... 

"What Power Should a Man Possess to Challenge the Prince of Darkness?"

Isn't that beautiful? I think it's iambic pentameter, but don't quote me on that. Today's movie really put the "odd" in "video oddity." For good measure, it also supplies the "deo," which is the Latin word for god (actually "deus" is the word for god, "deo" being the dative or ablative singular form of "deus," but stick with me here.) I've seen some strange flicks in my time but this one was notable, which is exactly what I hoped for when I saw that gorgeously drawn cover and its querical tagline. In the days leading up to my viewing of The Killing of Satan, I tried to answer the question myself. What power should a man, a commoner like me, possess to challenge the devil? The power of flight? Nah, Satan's got wings (see: Black Sabbath's "War Pigs," or Ragnarok's "Under the Wings of Satan.") Telepathy, perhaps? Something tells me the things you would see in Satan's head would most likely destroy you before you even got close enough to do any harm. Pyrokinesis? Now you're just not paying attention to the question. As Don McLean enlightened us, "fire is the devil's only friend." Maybe some kind of Iceman/Mr. Freeze-type ice power? We're moving in the right direction with that one, but it still seems short of the ultimate goal. It would take a ton of ice to kill Satan - more, I'm guessing, than an average iceman could muster. The power of shapeshifting has its possibilities: you could make yourself look like George Burns and stroll around hell like you owned the joint. That is, until you and your cigar were crushed by the giant foot of Satan. Back to square one.

I won't keep you in suspense. According to the makers of The Killing of Satan, a man should possess:

- laser hand magic inherited from your dead uncle
- the strength of Goodness
- a magic stick given to you by God
- a stylish mustache

Even with all four of these weapons at their disposal, you figure the heroes of this movie are pretty ambitious. If they can pull this one off, it would unquestionably top the list of movie killings. Sister George, a Chinese bookie, the great chefs of Europe - their deaths are just not on the same level as the Prince of Darkness. You're going after Satan, you mean business, and these guys are not "satan killers" like you hear about in the news. They are not killers who worship Satan but rather guys who have it in their mind to take Satan out...permanently. And Paragon's cover suggests that in the end it's just one man, meek, humble and mustachioed, stepping up to the task. Not only to face Satan, the cover implies, but also a vicious dog, a giant snake, a mummy and a sexy invisible lady. I know - up to this point you were thinking taking on Satan might not be too bad but then they threw in a mummy and a snake and you started to have second thoughts. Of course that consideration is based entirely on whether the movie even features these creatures, and let's be realistic: the last Paragon video I reviewed, Dr. Butcher MD, claimed on the cover to be about a depraved, sadistic, bloodthirsty, homicidal rapist of a deviate doctor who makes house calls, complete with an artist's rendition of said medical maniac, and that turned out to be pure fantasy. Not movie fantasy, an advertising fantasy. There was every possibility that a rabid dog, huge snake, bandaged zombie, transparent seductress and even Satan himself might not appear in The Killing of Satan. But that's the risk I took when I brought the movie home.

Ultimately, the biggest claim of the cover is right there in the title: Satan actually dies. His reign ends here. By the end of the movie, somebody will kill the devil. The movie itself will depict the act of killing Satan. ...Or will it?


The movie opens on a lush, mountainous island. A scrawny, bearded man shouldering a heavy crucifix is flagellated via wet noodle on both sides of his bare torso at the head of a large crowd marching down a nondescript path. Two other seemingly condemned men follow with giant crosses of their own. At first I thought the movie was opening with the passion, a clever bookend set-up for a movie about the devil's ultimate defeat (The Bible Part II: It's Payback Time), but the scene is suddenly intercut with a group of people elsewhere on the same island driving around in cars wearing modern clothing. I had to rewind the movie three or four times to try and figure this one out. So is the parade supposed to be modern people reenacting the crucifixion as some sort of snuff religious ceremony, or is the film literally cutting back and forth between 33 AD and the present day? Maybe it's not Jesus, it's just some criminal and they still use crucifixion as capital punishment on this particular island. Would that explain it? Or did I pick up The Killing of Jesus* by mistake?

Whatever's going on with the crucifixion party, we leave them to it and follow the group of clearly contemporary people, who it turns out are a religious sect led by an older gentleman named Miguel. They've organized for some kind of rumble against a rival, decidedly evil-er cult dressed in matching black silk outfits that look like karate gees who have apparently been causing trouble in the area, trouble Miguel et al have gathered to put a stop to. These two factions are kind of like the Chang Sing and Wing Kong - we're never told why exactly they're fighting, and no gang member on either side ever says anything, they just use magic and weapons to kill each other. Miguel seems confident enough about their chances until he sees that his enemies are accompanied by a portly fellow with curly hair and frilly mustache dressed in red tights and matching red half-cape, a man the startled Miguel identifies (in kung fu movie-quality dubbed English) as the Prince of Magic. His mere presence seems to change the tide of the battle: the good guys aren't prepared for this, and neither are we...nobody asked what power a man should possess to challenge the Prince of MAGIC!

Turns out Miguel was right to be nervous: his powers seem useless against this new foe, and a simple gesture of the Prince of Magic's hand sends Miguel's head spinning in circles around his body. Miguel is tough enough that simply having his head rotated 360 degrees like a ceiling fan doesn't kill him right away, but it does mortally wound him. His group, properly chastised, slink away from the confrontation with the mocking laughter of the Prince of Magic on their backs. All seems lost, but a dying Miguel has an ace up his sleeve and issues a simple instruction to his disciples: get me Lando.

If that isn't enough of a badass introduction to Orlando San Miguel, we meet the man himself, decked out in denim sporting a Billy Dee-worthy 'stache, being released from prison after spending years on the inside. It turns out he killed a man "in order to protect the people of my community." At one point someone describes the man's face as having been "torn to pieces," so this must have been a particularly brutal act of protection on Lando's part. Unless Lando's people specifically requested for him to beat the guy until he was unrecognizable, you figure the dude must have really gotten on his bad side. But now Lando's out and repents his past sins, determined to maintain his vow of pacifism...he took a vow! But no sooner is he home with his family - petite wife, willowy daughter, headstrong son - that death threats from his victim's scornful brother reach him through the grapevine, forcing him to once again take up arms. "I never stopped calling on god," he tells his wife as he sits at the table cleaning his gun. It doesn't make her feel better: "You paid your past deeds...and now I see your hand holding an ugly, murderous thing!" Lando turns on the sensitive side, comforts his woman and lets her know that everything will be all right.

Five minutes later Lando is dead. Dead! The vengeful brother turns up outside his house with a posse of toughs in the middle of the night and starts calling Lando out. His wife advises him to "Ignore it - go back to bed." Go back to bed?? Armed criminals are in front of our house, you're saying just ignore them and they'll go away? This questionable advice seems a little more sound once Lando's son rushes out to face the intruders and gets blown away. Devastated, Lando runs to the window but before he can do anything gets a stray bullet through his brain. He collapses to the floor, lifeless, without even getting his gun to defend himself. Killed, practically by accident! Lando is dead! Our supposed champion, vanquished! These no-good punks (who subsequently die in a gunfight with the cops) have succeeded in the killing of Lando!

Or have they? I mean yeah, they have - his body lies on the bed next to his son as the women cry over their corpses. But back on the island inhabitants are gathered around a cross-shaped arrangement of candles praying and repeating their chant requesting Lando's presence: "Orlando San Miguel...Wherever you are...heed the prayer of your Uncle Miguel...hear our calling..." (nobody thought to use a telephone?) Continuing their summons into the night they seem persistent enough, but none of them even knows Lando is dead. I started to wonder if Lando was NOT the mustachioed hero of the cover...maybe it's the Prince of Magic, a flunkie for the devil who trades sides a'la Darth Vader? We're 10 minutes into the film, and already things seem hopeless.


Unless of course you're at all familiar with a little book called The Bible. A resurrected hero named Jesus? Satan and his army ultimately being defeated by the angel Michael (read: Miguel) in the Book of Revelation? A chapter where the warrior is brought back to life by his uncle, whose body ends up looking like Wile E Coyote's after being run over by a steamroller? Any of that ring a bell? Actually that last one was just to fool you Bible-ignorant philistines - it doesn't happen in the Good Book, but it happens in this Awesome Movie. While the desperate groupies continue chanting, a dying Miguel transports his soul to some dreamlike "other" realm. Lando is there (in jean jacket, of course), walking near some rocky hills when a giant boulder rolls straight towards him. In aching slow motion Miguel rushes to his nephew's rescue, throwing his body between a frozen Lando and the giant rock, allowing himself to be squished in Lando's place. The boulder rolls away harmlessly, leaving Miguel as a head on a cartoonishly-flattened body. "Lando - hold back that rock!" he instructs. The opening sequence was great, but this is the first scene that really set me up for the rest of the movie's nutty take on innovation. The slow boulder, the hilariously paper-thin body supporting the full-sized head of Miguel - it's indefensibly silly stuff, but it's not regular-goofy, it's dream-goofy. This is the sort of dream I can imagine having, and explaining to my wife after I woke up. It's better than dream depictions in recent arty movies like, say, Shutter Island.

As Miguel passes away on the island, the bullet hole in Lando's head disappears and he sits up in bed to the great joy of his wife and daughter. No such luck for his son however...he stays dead, no boulder dream/flattened body resurrection in his future. Lando laments, but then realizes he must go on in the name of his fallen son (whatever his name was.) He heeds the orders of his uncle and the chanting chorus and travels across the water to the wartorn archipelago in a catamaran, the remains of his family tagging along. They're assailed by multiple supernatural threats: first a windstorm at sea that nearly prevents their arrival on the shore, then a sudden avalanche as soon as they're safe on land that almost flattens all three (presumably to paper-thin husks with giant heads), and finally Lando is attacked by a decaying corpse that leaps out of the water and tries to pull his arm off. Of course all these dangers are a little hollow. That's the trouble with killing off your main character 10 minutes into the movie and bringing him drastically back to life: you have to figure anything that happens to him from this point on would be pretty anti-climatic. Why resurrect him just to kill him all over? (I guess it would be funny if he kept getting killed and the chant gang had to keep bringing him back to life: "Ok seriously Lando, this is the last time we're doing this, we are almost out of candles for one thing. Also people are sick of being flattened by a boulder just to magically heal your fatal wounds. You gonna take care of business this time or what?")

The family reaches the village and are greeted by Miguel's friends including Renzo, a friendly sort of guy who informs Lando of his uncle's death and the threat to their people by "evil forces." And we all know how Lando feels about threats against somebody's people - he's against it. No sooner have the family unpacked than the evil gang in question turns up at the village to wage telepathic war on the villagers, engaging in what could either be described as an epic battle forged on the remote boundaries of the psychic plane or a "goofiest expression" competition. Warriors from both sides scrunch their faces like Scanners as a steady sonic bass blares on the soundtrack, typically resulting in the loser being thrown back a couple feet. Then they break out the lasers - not from futuristic guns, from their hands! Left and right, good and bad guys are zapping each other with sonic rays emitting from various appendages in an all-out, wildly animated laser war. The villainous henchmen appear to have more powerful zapping skills and soon Lando is backed up against some trees by a gang of baddies. Undaunted however, he holds his fist up in a "righteous" gesture and sends colorful beams spiraling out of his elbow at his opponents, who shrink back in terror. It seems that, in addition to granting him life, Uncle Miguel has transmigrated his own abilities to Lando and he is in full Scott Baio-in-Zapped mode using his left hand and the sacred words "Sanctos...Sanctine Christo!" Renzo tells Lando that he is the Proud One, possessing great psychic power and protected by the strength of Goodness. Lando doesn't high five Renzo right there on the spot, but doesn't look like he'd be opposed to the idea.

While Lando and the others are distracted, one of the evil henchmen lays out his wife with a dishonorable punch to the face (no gentle psychic nudging for the lady?) and the gang kidnaps both their daughter and Renzo's girlfriend. As if being resurrecting from the dead and psychically paged to travel to a far-off island and receive laser powers and personal endorsement from the strength of Goodness with which to challenge evil wasn't enough incentive for him to take up arms against the bad guys, Lando now has to journey to their evil lair and rescue his daughter. Shoving people around with your mind is one thing, making off with the village women like a bunch of Mexican banditos is another. Clearly it's time for Lando to do to these bastards what he did to that guy's face before he went to prison, this time with a little Goodness and laser power thrown in! Renzo knows where the kidnappers are headed, and offers to show Lando the way so he can bring back their women and end the evil once and for all.


Their destination is the deep bowels of a giant caravan, where the Prince of Magic sits content on his throne. This image immediately made me suspicious - is he the "Satan" of the title? It's entirely possible that whatever country produced the film created as their protagonist a paunchy, demonic being who wears red tights and practices the black arts, and the American distributor came up with the brilliant idea to call this guy "Satan" and market the movie as his final stand against humanity. It's entirely possible, I realize, and start to get bummed out. This Prince of Magic struts around like he's the head honcho, making his way to an oversized cage (the bars of which are electrified, by magic I suppose) occupied by two dozen hypnotized naked women staring forward blankly in standing formation, each wearing a black ribbon around her neck. Holy hellish harem, Batman! Has this been the Prince's plan all along, to collect the island's innocent daughters and corrupt them? The only uncaged (and clothed) female is a woman wearing a leathery dominatrix get-up who fades into the cave out of thin air. She must be the transparent witch-looking gal on the front cover - but does the fact that she's hanging out with the PoM, who is not featured on the cover, mean that he's her boss? Not just the Prince of Magic but the Prince of Darkness? Apparently not: she talks to him like he's just another one of the guys and singles out Lando's daughter as the perfect bride for their master, "the Evil One." Ahhhhh...

Lando and Renzo make their way in through the entrance of the cave (they were going to go through an opening in the side but Lando decided against it) and part ways in a weirdly awkward cadence of dialogue: "Take care now." "Take it easy." "Good luck." "See ya." Lando continues down the tunnel, and is assaulted by flying snakes who turn out to actually be oily sexless midgets who leap off the walls of the cave. Lando hoists one such creature up by the neck until it dies and drops to the ground, back in snake form. Another one shoots at Lando, but he grabs it midair, bitchslaps it twice across the face and ties it in a knot (warning to PETA members: this is clearly a real live snake the actor does this to). Sadly, the snake does not transform back into a midget with a giant fleshy knot in his midriff. Pretty soon Lando is up to his ears in oily midget boxers and other half-dressed cave dwellers, and I started to notice how different he looked from one shot to another. 'Jeez, couldn't they find a stunt double who at least had a mustache?' I thought to myself. Then I realized the director was cutting back and forth between two different fights: one between a scaly hissing midget and Lando, and another between a scaly hissing midget and Renzo. I guess I got confused when Renzo said "I'm leaving the caves, Lando - goodbye!" and left. It was never really established that he was still there. Why didn't they just stick together?

They really should have, because things start to go downhill for the good guys. Renzo finds his girlfriend, apparently escaped from the slave cage, but as he's starting to tell her how much he missed her she rips the right side of his face off. He grabs the loose flesh hanging off his cheek, a good effect which strongly resembles lasagna, and looks at her with sad, betrayed eyes. Apparently unable to take his pained expression, her stomach explodes. She and Ol' Lasagna Face die together. Lando exits the cave through a passage that leads him to the waterfalls they had passed on the way in (I thought it was funny that he had earlier rejected this side entrance/short cut, which it turns out would have saved he and Renzo being attacked by scaly snake midgets). Blood flows down the water and the Prince of Magic's posse turns up. The Prince is immune to Lando's laser assault and spins him around like a top by a simple wave of the hand. I took this scene as proof that this is a totally competent story - we've reached the end of act two where everything seems to be going wrong. The Prince of Magic's cohorts take up the utterly defeated Lando and throw his body over the side of the waterfall and it looks like it's all over, with our hero mortally wounded and ready to meet his maker. And he does.

We were expecting Satan, but who knew the Big Man himself would make an entrance? Lando is fished out of the river by a mute boy named Niño and shepherded to the remains of an old Catholic church where he meets an old man named God. Well they don't say it, but who else could he be - gray beard, sense of playfulness and self-importance? God gives Lando a staff that he explains is the key weapon in defeating...and we hear it for the first time in the movie...SATAN!

That's right: one solid hour into the movie, Satan finally appears like it's a surprise. But I guess it kind of was a surprise, considering I was genuinely worried the horny bastard was never going to actually show. With the dominatrix and Prince of Magic at this throne, the devil pops up in a flash of smoke and lighting effects. He's a skinny, young-looking, dancer type with red makeup all over his face, tights that look more comfortable on him than they do the heavier set Prince of Magic, a set of horns, and a really long tail sitting right between his legs that doesn't look like a tail in the long shot, if you know what I mean. He cryptically instructs his lieutenants to prepare for the final stage of his plan before cackling madly and disappearing as dramatically as he arrived.

There's no ambiguity now: Satan is the enemy, the one pulling the strings, and Lando's task is to kill him. With some kind of Level Four Power Staff. And his laser hand abilities and the strength of Goodness. And his mustache.


Anyone who's ever played a video game knows that there are levels of endstage bosses, and Lando follows the basic structure by meeting three increasingly more powerful threats that collectively make up the climax of the movie. The first stage, of course, is to challenge the Prince of Magic. Lando returns to the cave and frees the nude girls by using the staff to magically evaporate the cage. They break free from their spell and let Lando know that his daughter has been taken by the bad guys. She's the one who's been chosen as Satan's bride, but they're setting her up like some kind of sacrifice: she's stripped by hooded hell monks and, in a trance, laid out on a slab of stone while blood is poured on and around her body. Lando runs to save her, fighting off flunkies along the way using the staff, which I've decided to refer to as the "Deus ex machina" - he doesn't know how to use it, but when he points it at something supernatural that thing seems to be effected, or somebody grabs it and it shocks them to death. So not much skill involved in wielding the staff, but it's a good thing Lando has it because the Prince of Magic meets him in a corridor of the cave ready for round two: it's good mustache vs evil mustache! Make that good mustache for evil mustaches...the Prince multiplies himself into a dozen clones - each one in a different outfit! This might be my favorite thing to happen in the entire movie - one of the clones wears an open jean vest with a bandana! I wish I had a suit like that. In a precursor to the Neo/multiple Smith fight from the second Matrix movie, Lando (the Proud One!) is forced to fend off dozens of Princes of Magic before finally weeding out the real deal, at which point he manages to harness the power of the devil's number 2 and use it against him. Then their fight just sort of ends - I guess he defeated the Prince of Magic. I'm not exactly sure how, but I'm fairly sure his ass explodes.

In the wake of the assplosion, Lando discovers an old woman caught under a fallen rock and helps her up. He gives her his staff to support herself (Lando, no!) and she leads him to some kind of brothel (...within the cave?) where the next stage of the final showdown takes place. The old woman, who is of course the dominatrix in disguise, meets up with two other mistresses who turn into animals and try to kill Lando. I'm not sure if this establishment was set up entirely for his benefit, to ensnare and murder him, or if it just happens to be a Satan-run brothel that paying customers who are into beastiality frequent (what? nobody questions the werewolf-human sex in the Twilight movies). Either explanation is solid, but it does seem like a lot to set up in a little time to be ready for Lando when he happens upon it. A lot of thought and effort would have had to go into that. Anyway, he's seduced by the sultry vixens in a play on the whole Brides of Dracula bit (like in Vampire Hunter D; a scene which also involves snake-knotting, albeit consensual) and it's understandable that he allows himself to be tempted: his wife is quite demur after all, not to mention nagging. Lucky for us these ladies have no patience: rather than going through with a full seduction they instantly revert to their animal forms: snake (giant boa constrictor), dog (from the box cover!) and, uh, cat. The cat lady might want to have tried to turn into a slightly more dangerous animal form, but who am I to criticize? Maybe it's all she's able to do. One day she'll develop into a tiger or a lion or something useful. Without the staff, Lando must rely on brute force to conquer the hell beasts and easily defeats them despite their combined constricting, biting

Had I edited The Killing of Satan, I probably would have convinced the director to place the brothel scene before the killing of the Prince of Magic. It feels anti-climatic after that hellacious fight, not in any small part due to the dominatrix-in-disguise taking her sweet time slow walking Lando to the trap. Seriously, I think it was shot in real time. But it was worth the wait, because we all know that the third and final stage of Lando's quest is up next...


With Mr. Magic out of the way, Lando has only to fulfill the movie's title promise and kill the man himself. I was nervous for him: he was able to beat up some women and defeat a husky, middle-aged magic man, but the Satan we saw looked young and spry. Even without using the powers of hell to vanquish poor Lando, it seems like he'd be able to best him in a physical match. But I needn't have been concerned: by the time he confronts the devil, the Prince of Darkness has transformed into a bloated old guy with a widow's peak. There is literally no explanation, nothing like "Satan's powers were weakened so he turned into a fat guy with a thinning hair line," it just sort of happens while he's sitting in a chair. At first I thought this was a fiendish devil's trick to throw Lando off - Satan would make himself seem fat and feeble to appear weak but still possess the same kind of power and strength. But then during their duel to the death he's stumbling over rocks and lumbering around like he can't move too well, and he's constantly getting jabbed by Lando's staff and fleeing his opponent pathetically in a kind of sissy prance. He doesn't look like a man of "wealth and taste," unless you mean a taste for chili dogs. This incarnation really makes you rethink that question again about what power a man should possess to challenge the Prince of Darkness. Maybe all you need to possess is the ability to poke him in the belly. Or give him a wedgie. Or make him run 10 feet using his dainty footwork, therefore winding him.

Once he takes on his robust new form, Satan's clothes also change from tights to a frilly red-and-black tuxedo with matching bow tie. This led me to wonder: when exactly did it become fashionable for Satan to dress like a a magician? What's the origin of that? It seems to have been around for a long time, the idea of Satan as a suave guy in a tux, but I wonder who thought it up originally. At any rate, this Satan is not suave, or svelte. He's stout.

Lando finds the red rock that God told him to seek out. The good news is, John Tesh is not performing a concert there. The bad news is, Satan is also nowhere to be found. Lando cries out for the devil to show himself, and he finally does, in the guise of an old man (can the bad guys - not to mention God - only imitate old people??) I'm a little confused what this ruse was supposed to accomplish exactly (was Satan going to lead Lando back to the brothel?) but as soon as he notices the glowing red shadow this old guy is casting, Lando calls him out for who he really is, and the battle is on...

The face/off begins with some verbal sparing, with Lando winning 1-0 after taunting, "You're yellow, Satan!" Of course, Satan is red so that's a good insult. It seems like the stage is set for limitless fat jokes - "Bring it on, Beezleblubber," or "I guess the Fifth Circle of Hell is actually a donut shop, 'ey tubby?" - but Lando honorably keeps it clean. Strangely, this fleshy fallen angel has no witty reply. In popular culture, the devil usually serves as a symbolic figure who tests human beings or lures them away from God using some kind of demon psychology. This one's just a pimp; he's got nothing, and makes Lando look like friggin' Mohammed Ali with that tame "yellow" dig. He even misses the chance to psych out Lando - bring up his dead son? Transform into the mutilated face of the man he went to prison for killing? Threaten his wife and/or daughter? Nope, all missed opportunites. He doesn't even challenge him to a fiddle contest. Instead, once he finds the staff impervious to his fireballs, he struts around trying to skewer Lando with his trident, and not very gracefully I might add. Really, this is the extent of the devil's power? We already know that his minions can mentally push people, turn into animals, spin folks' heads around their bodies...and yet the devil's tricks seem limited to WWE-style fire-themed entrances. And he doesn't look nearly as imposing as the Undertaker. Satan worshipers worldwide must find this humiliating.

So the end fight, the one we've all been waiting for, spectated from afar by Niño -li'l Jesus himself - is mostly just funny. What it really needed was some Queen playing in the background. Lando and his excellent staff-pointing skills make short work of the Evil One, eventually creating Tron-like barriers on either side of Satan so he can't dematerialize to safety. Then he zaps him with the Deus ex machina staff, and after one or two jolts the dumpy devil appears to light up and crumble to nothing. The dominatrix and hell monks in the cave turn into snakes; Lando beats the helpless serpents with his staff and collects his daughter. The two of them return to the village just in time for a giant storm (I guess the aftermath of evil's triumphant fall?) that ravages the huts. I have to say, considering it isn't explained and has no narrative value whatsoever, I am absolutely convinced that a real hurricane started while they were filming the movie and they just kept the cameras on. Everybody survives, and Lando, his wife and daughter reunite in a freeze frame that ends the movie.

PART 666:

Sorry this installment turned out to be mostly a scene-by-scene recounting of the entire movie**, but in my defense I think it's a film that merits a full plot review from beginning to end. I'm obsessed with movie tie-in novelizations, and I would love to get hired to write the novelization of this one.*** I gotta admit, I genuinely enjoyed The Killing of Satan. It plays like a terrible B movie but has enough weird stuff in it to transcend the silliness by being positively inventive and strange. And I have to reiterate that I'm not somebody who appreciates "so bad it's good" movies - there has to be some element of earnest filmmaking and/or storytelling involved. This movie pulled me in with its take on one man's journey from death to life, from land to sea to underground, with the 'never seen that in a movie before' aspects overruling all the implied rape, snake torture (by the good guys) and woman beating (on both sides). Likewise, the exotic location shooting and good cave interiors make for nice scenary while the worthy makeup and pyrotechnic effects more than make up for the less notable aesthetics like the horrible dubbing and out-of-sync sound effects. Although the devil turned out to be ridiculous, the classic take on him (big cape, horns) and basic special effects (fiery entrances, more figure-popping-up-in-the-middle-of-a-shot moments than maybe any film in history etc) reminded of the kind of supernatural silent films made by Georges Melies at the beginning of the 20th century, and in particular the 1907 short El Espectro Rojo by Segundo de Chomón and Ferdinand Zecca. In that one Satan also had a harem, although they were clothed French prostitutes...he also looked a little portly. It's just not everyday you come upon an obscure exploitation title that turns out to be a condensed, modernized history of Abrahamic religion with Jesus recast as an ex-con in a jean jacket. Where does this movie come from and how did it break into the United States? Did it come from hell itself? Are the forces of darkness trying to throw us off by depicting the devil as a girdle-wearing, easily-defeated schlub? (For answers, see the Post Mortem Appendix below).

It's funny that the killing was not the goal from the outset, and there was no conspiracy involved. In Valkyrie we saw how impossible it was to get to Hitler, so you'd figure it would take a bunch of guys with years and years of planning to even get in the same room with the devil himself (like those monks who couldn't kill the anti-christ in the third Omen movie). His death in the movie is almost incidental, a case of Satan pushing his luck. I mean here he is, responsible for all the evil in the world, the symbol of everything corrupt and offensive since the dawn of time - but kidnapping girls as part of some (literal) underground sex slave ring? Now he's gone too far!

What does it mean that the devil is dead? The set up with Lando killing the guy and going to jail for it at the beginning was a moral grey area - but now evil's abolished and everybody should be sin-free, right? No more zapping innocent people with your hands or seducing someone then trying to eat them? And who was the Prince of Magic anyway? The title "prince" seems to suggest he's in some line of the throne of hell? Prince of Magic/Prince of Peace -is he the evil Jesus? I guess "magic" is not exactly the opposite of "peace." Speaking of which, what about that Jesus figure at the beginning? I'm still not sure who he was. Was that footage taken from another film and slapped onto the beginning? Maybe it's a Roman being named Snuff Maximus!

All questions aside, let's get to what's most important here...of all the titles I've reviewed for the series thus far, this one has the most accurate video box! Obviously Dr. Butcher has a completely fabricated physician on its cover, Microwave Massacre depicts some Leatherface/old woman (who's that supposed to be?) looking inside a microwave that's actually much smaller than the one in the film, the sniper on the front of Killer Likes Candy doesn't resemble the title assassin and appears to have more candy than we actually see at any point in the movie, and Dead Pit has its Eddie-like Heavy Metal mascot zombie character who doesn't turn up at any point during the zombie proceedings. Let's tally Killing of Satan's video box features, shall we? We've got: mustache-wearing hero with a staff. Check! The artist's rendition is a tad more flattering than reality, and the guy is wearing a ripped shirt rather than Lando's trademark denim, but we'll let that one slide. There's a snake (lots of snakes in the movie) and a hellhound like the doberman that attacks Lando in the brothel. Check and check! Underground/cave background? Check! The mummy-character is a little iffy, but he looks enough like the rotting, ragged corpse that accosts Lando on the boat so I'm counting that as a Check. Sultry seductress who is fading in/out of the scene is indeed featured in the film - Check! Which brings us to the man himself...obviously, this portrait of Satan is a good deal more intimidating, muscular and flat-out demonic than his two representations in the story. This Satan looks like could bite both of those actors' heads off at the same time with very little effort. But we'll allow that little embellishment, because at the end of the day this video box is reliable. I'd even venture to say the artist actually saw the movie before creating this video box. And to their credit, Paragon chose a title that didn't pull a Pope Must Diet-like wimp-out and end up being called "The Killing of Stan." It's called The Killing of Satan - and that's what fucking happens!

R.I.P. Satan!

(a.k.a. appendix)

The film was a Filipino production, original title Lumaban ka, Satanas (roughly "I Protest You, Satan!") The director: Efren C Piñon, whose other titles include Baldo is Coming, Ninja Nightmare, Blind Rage, Alex San Diego: Wanted, and Bomba Queen (followed by the sequel Code Name: Bomba). The movie came out same year, 1983, as another Filipino occult thriller, The Queen of Black Magic, and is said to be a fine Filipino exploitation film following in the proud tradition of tropic-themed Filipino drive-in fare like the classic trilogy Mad Doctor of Blood Island, The Brides of Blood Island and Beast of Blood Island. I'd love to learn what the business end of the American deal was; how and why Paragon ended up purchasing the distribution rights to this particular movie, but that information is currently beyond my investigative abilities.

Lando himself, Ramon Revillo, was a huge star in his own country back in the day. Discovered by casting agents while pumping their gas, he played a few bit parts before getting frustrated, quitting, and joining the Secret Service Unit of the Bureau of Customs. He returned to acting and staked his claim to fame in 1972 with the movie Nardong Putik (and its sequel) in which he played the title character, who has a magic amulet that grants him unlimited power, but only when he's in the mud. Hm...guess I'd have to see it. He created his own production company, Imus Productions which he ran with his wife, and ended up writing and directing several features which led to numerous awards. After retiring from showbiz, his popularity led him into (get this) politics, serving two terms as senator. We all thought it was weird when Arnold Schwarzenegger became governor of California, but it turns out he was just taking a page from the book of Revillo. His biggest accomplishment was an amendment to the Family Code known as the 'Revillo Bill,' which granted illegitimate children the right to use their father's surname. "The child should not suffer the stigma of his illegitimacy," he was quoted as saying. His son Ramon "Bong" Revillo Jr followed his father into a film career, and then into a career as senator.

On May 12th, 2009, Alec Baldwin appeared on an episode of "The Late Show with David Letterman." When asked by Letterman if he would ever want to have more kids, he quipped that he was "thinking about getting a Filipino mail-order bride at this point ... or a Russian one." The comment made news when Revillo gave a press conference condemning Baldwin's comment as "insensitive and uncalled for" and an insult to millions of Filipinos. He called the actor "arrogant" and said he is apparently unaware that the Philippines has a law against mail-order brides. "Let him try to come here in the Philippines and he'll see mayhem," Revilla said, using a local idiom that implies the speaker will personally administer a beating. Baldwin later apologized, stating: "The comments of some Philippine government officials come as no surprise to me, either. Even the one by a former action film star-turned-Senator who beckoned me to come to the Philippines so he could 'beat' me over my comment. Such anger and frustration about the issue of sex trafficking is understandable."

Well, we all know from this movie that Revillo is anti-slave woman; he goes to great lengths to free Satan's hypnotized harem. And if he's still got the staff around I'm sure a tubby Alec Baldwin would be just as easy to defeat as a tubby Prince of Darkness.

Anyway Senator Revillo, now that you're out of the politics game let's talk about a little follow-up film called Bring Me the Mustache of Orlando san Miguel and its sequel, The Last Temptation of Lando. Let's strike while the trident's hot!

The Killing of Satan trailer is on youtube - it features many of the moments highlighted in this article, and a narrator who refers to it as "a ferociously intense and absorbing revelation." Is that a pun?

And here's the amusing psychic duel/goofy face competition between a villager and a minion of the devil.

my 10 favorite satan screen incarnation

1. Peter Cook as George Spiggott in Bedazzled (Stanley Donen, 1967)
2. Silvia Pinal as The Devil in Simon of the Desert (Luis Bunuel, 1965)
3. Emil Jannings as Mephisto in Faust (FW Murnau, 1926)
4. James Coco as Dr. D. in Hunk (Lawrence Bassoff, 1987)
5. Walter Huston as Mr. Scratch in The Devil and Daniel Webster (William Dieterle, 1941)
6. G. Tito Shaw as Lou Cipher**** in Petey Wheatstraw: The Devil's Son-in-Law (Cliff Roquemore, 1977)
7. Claude Rains as Nick in Angel on My Shoulder (Archie Mayo, 1946)
8. Mel Blanc as Hector the Bulldog in Satan's Waitin' (Friz Freleng, 1953)
9. Patrick Bergin as Beezle in Highway to Hell (Ate de Jong, 1991)
10. Rex Ingram as Lucifer Jr/Lucius Ferry in Cabin in the Sky (Vincente Minelli/Busby Berkeley, 1943)

And on the small screen: tie between Ray Wise as The Devil on "Reaper" (2007-2009) and John Glover as The Devil on "Brimstone" (1998-1999). Scariest TV Devil: Joel Grey on the series finale of "Dallas."

~ 2010 ~
* Japanese title for Mel Gibon's Passion of the Christ.
** Sorry too about the quality of the images - I shot them off the tv screen.
*** I checked, it doesn't exist. By the way I'm thinking of starting a new series of articles on movie novelizations. I really am intrigued by them. If I did end up doing it, I guess I'd have to devote an entire chunk of it to Alan Dean Foster. If I ever made a movie, he's the one I would want to novelize it (especially after Wayland Drew's passing.)
**** Yep, they swiped that great joke for Robert De Niro's devil in Angel Heart.