You’re right, cop. You’re right, I am a rotten bastard. I admit it. But I tell ya something. Even though I got a lot of hate inside, I got some friends who ain’t got hate inside. They’re filled with nothing but love. Their only crime is growing their hair long, smoking a little grass and getting high, looking at the stars at night, writing poetry in the sand. And what do you do? You bust down their doors, man. Dumb-ass cop. You bust down their doors and you bust down their heads. You put ’em behind bars. And you know something funny? They forgive you.
– Anchor (Russ Tamblyn in Satan Sadists, 1969)
B-movie maestro Al Adamson explored many genres when he was churning out films during the sixties and seventies including horror, blaxploitation and sexploitation. Satan’s Sadists (1969) was his early entry into the biker genre, which became extremely popular during the late sixties. Adamson made Satan’s Sadists in just one week on a shoestring budget and it shows. But if you’re in the mood for some entertaining B-grade biker fun, the movie is worth a look.
Satan’s Sadists stars actor and American movie legend Russ Tamblyn, as the leader of a ruthless motorcycle gang called Satan’s Sadists. Tamblyn leads his drug-taking gang on a deadly rampage through the California desert as they leave a trail of corpses in their wake. When the bikers unexpectedly come in contact with an ex-Marine named Johnny (Gary Kent) who has just returned from Vietnam, their luck starts to change and the members of Satan’s Sadists are soon forced to pay for their brutal crimes.
Most of the performances in the movie are rather forgettable except for Russ Tamblyn’s. He gets to deliver the best lines in the movie and seems to genuinely be having a lot of fun as the nasty gang leader known as “Anchor.” John ‘Bud’ Cardos is also pretty good as a sleazy biker called “Firewater” who sports a faux mini Mohawk and is covered in what looks like shoe-polish in a rather tasteless attempt to portray a native American. Cardos reportedly did all of his own stunts in the film too. The director’s wife Regina Carrol plays Tamblyn’s neglected and abused love interest known as “Freak Out Girl” who has a few memorable moments in the movie as well. Her death scene is particularly touching and equally silly.
In some ways the film seems to be trying to exploit the tragedy of the Manson murders that took place in California the same year that the movie was made. But Satan Sadists really just comes across as an extremely juvenile attempt to characterize rebellious youth culture in the sixties and it’s nowhere near as “cutting-edge” as the movie’s promotional material would suggest. But it is unintentionally hilarious at times!
Filmmaker Al Adamson and cinematographer Gary Graver really enjoy using extreme close-ups and zooms, which bring some element of style to this rather flat looking production. Having driven down some of the same roads that are seen in the film, I was impressed with the way they managed to capture some beautiful shots of California’s barren desert landscape too. The movie also features a memorable soundtrack by composer Harley Hatcher that adds a lot to the overall feel of the film. Satan’s Sadists is not a great movie and some will probably find it unwatchable, but if you like low-budget biker flicks you might find some things to enjoy in the movie besides the laughs it provides.
Satan’s Sadists is currently available on DVD from Troma Entertainment but the DVD has recently gone out of print. You should still be able to rent the movie from places like Netflix and Greencine. The image quality of Troma’s Satan’s Sadists DVD leaves a lot to be desired, but it does include some great extras such as an introduction and commentary from producer Sam Sherman, original trailers, a still gallery, a radio interview with Regina Carol and even a short featurette called Producing Schlock.
If you’d like to see more images from the movie you can find them in my Satan’s Sadists Flickr Gallery.
You can also watch the film’s original trailer at Youtube.
* Originally published at Cinedelica 06.19.2007