Starting out with the double shot of Russ Meyer’s Motor Psycho and Roger Corman’s The Wild Angels, the 60’s-70’s Biker Movie scene is clearly one of the more solid ones to cross through the Drive-Ins and Grindhouses of the past (and the Video players of today, of course). It’s a good serving of many Exploitation essentials; Violent Bikers, great music, good looking “Mamas,” names like Acid, Blues, Firewater, and Speed, Anti-Social behavior, the occasional touch of Dark-edged hipness (Take, for instance the classic Occult themed Werewolves on Wheels and Psychomania), long shots of freeway riding in an era before the landscape was seriously cluttered with ads, and even the great Cross-Over flick that gave it it’s best-known moment in the Mass Media spotlight (Easy Rider). It’s true ultra-“Meat and Potatoes” entertainment, and one that can be perfectly mixed either with an LSD flick or even a Western, and the ones with the lower budget and the harder edge seem to have at least some unique marks that make the film stand out.
Speaking of Westerns, a fan of that genre made a good Biker Flick…
Satan’s Sadists is clearly one of the best films connected to Al Adamson, who may have been only occasionally hitting the target when it came to cool Exploitation, but he still remains one of the many film makers of The Late 60’s-Early 70’s who deserves respect. As a son of Victor Adamson, known to some as Denver Dixon, Al already knew a thing or 50 about the Western, so with the Biker Flick almost like a more violent cousin of the genre, it would seem that after trying out some other styles and not getting the right effect, it would be perfect to channel his energies into a film that was promoted as being “Wild Beyond Belief” with a low-budget sleazy feel and some standout Anti-Social swagger that would pretty much live up to those words, mainly thanks to Russ Tamblyn’s performance as Anchor.
Starting out with an attack on a couple of lovers, this film already has made it’s statement, this is not going to be a light ride, and unlike many films that begin with a shocking moment, this keeps things brewing. After introducing the viewer to hitch-hiking Vietnam Vet Johnny (Gary Kent) being picked up by a Policeman and his wife, the trio go down to a small restaurant when Anchor and the gang decide to break the rest. Thanks to some dancing by Biker Mama Gina (Regina Carrol, who became Al’s wife in 1972), the place livens up a bit until the owner stops the show, meaning of course there will be a fight and that the owner will wind up dead, although Johnny shows up after being knocked down to smash one of the gang in the face with a mirror and put another member’s head down the toilet.
While this is making way for Johnny and Waitress Tracy (The pretty Jackie Taylor) to make way to the desert, it’s time to go for the cop in a scene that must have had plenty of rebels and DGs (That’s “Degenerates” in Exploiteer talk) approving of the film. Anchor’s speech in this scene was, according to the Sam Sherman commentary, was created by Tamblyn himself, and it is a major Late 60’s Exploitation highlight with it’s “God forgives, I don’t” final line imitated many times over. The scene was strong enough to be featured in the trailer, and it’s one that brought many to the attention of Tamblyn’s continued life as an actor after his slow fade out after being in West Side Story as well as bringing him some cult status that made him recognizable later on.
Of course, after some riding, LSD, and killing three ladies, The Satans find Johnny and Tracy for one final long showdown in the desert complete with a fine Fake-out ending featuring Anchor. Of course, being an Al Adamson film, there’s no gray area here, the Good Guy wins out in the end, with a little help by Firewater (John Cardos), who turns his back on the gang, with plenty of bruises to take care of when he gets home.
Gary Graver’s camerawork is solid throughout, and the music, mainly by Harley Hatcher, fits the scene perfectly with the Evil Lounge-listening theme “Satan” still one of the best Biker Movie themes of all. Filmed in Late 1968, it did take a while for Satan’s Sadists to play, but when it did, it made the Exploitation industry take notice of Independent International, a company led by Sam Sherman, Dan Kennis, and Al Adamson that had some fine Exploitation flicks through The 70’s and some great pick-ups from other companies that went away (Igna was picked up by them around 1977 after Cinemation went bankrupt, for example). There may have been more interesting Biker Films, but when it comes to a film that still has a punch while capturing a feeling of actually being there in one of history’s more violent years, Satan’s Sadists is a good one to catch.
As for it’s video releases – this came out on the Super Video label way back in the days of VHS. Super Video was Sam Sherman’s company to get many of the films he owned onto video. Today, it’s on DVD through Troma.