By Paul D
from Uxbridge, England
, 12 Feb 2005
Nornam J. Warren is perhaps best known as a director of horror/exploitation movies from the latter part of the 1970s and early 1980s. This excellent collection consists of four films made between 1976 and 1980.
SATAN'S SLAVE (1976) stars Michael Gough as Alexander, the head of a coven of witches dedicated to resurrecting the soul of a powerful but long dead witch. His niece Catherine (Candace Glendenning), a direct decendant of the witch, is the unwitting vessel for her uncle's dastardly plan. Michael Potter excels as Alexander's psychopathic son Stephen with whom Catherine starts a friendship much to the chagrin of family secretary Francis (Barbara Kellerman) who is also attracted to Stephen.
This is a horror film with plenty of blood and nastiness. The suspense builds slowly as Catherine remains oblivious to the danger she is in. The performances are all very good. Michael Gough plays his role, with restrained menace, to perfection.
This is well worth seeing, although, in my opinion, Ray Austin's 1971 sexploitation classic 'Virgin Witch' covers similar territory in grittier fashion.
PREY (1977) is my favourite film in the collection. It's basically a three hander and stars the excellent Sally Faulkner as Josephine the rather dominant and mentally unbalnanced partner in a lesbian relationship with Jessica (Glory Annan). They live in Jessica's large home in an idyllic countryside setting. However, their piece is shattered with the arrival of a stranger, Anderson (Barry Stokes), an alien who has taken on human form. He is in fact a scout on a mission to find a new source of food for the waiting alien invasion. Humans are apparently full of protein and are just the sort of prey required.
Although the film does show its age in places - the alien make-up and the soundtrack music are very 1970s - this is gripping drama, well performed, sexy and a little kinky too. For fans of the era, this is a chance to see a classic piece of British independent filmmaking shot on a low budget at breakneck speed. Terrific stuff.
TERROR (1978) is at times a rather incoherent story about a witch who vows to exact revenge on the descendants of the family responsible for her execution. Strange and nasty things begin to happen to the 1978 version of those descendants and the people around them.
Warren says that 'Suspiria' was a major influence on this film and its rather episodic storyline does bear comparison. Fans of 'Suspiria' will probably enjoy this movie and should add it to their lists, as should anyone who enjoys a decent horror film.
INSEMINOID (1980) is something of a disappointment. A female member of a group of space archaeologists is impregnated by aliens with violent consequences.
This sci-fi/horror movie is the worst film in the collection. The story rambles on at a slow pace and the cast are not convincing as the crew of a spaceship. The cast includes Judy Geeson as the unfortunate recipient of the aliens' advances and the sequences of insemination and the birth of twin aliens still have the power to shock; but overall, this is a film best avoided by the casual viewer.
Better examples of this type of film are 'The Entity' and 'Demon Seed' both of which are superior to 'Inseminoid'.
BONUS DISC: There is a disc of extras in the collection that has lengthy features on all four films, plus Norman J. Warren talking at length about his career. Cast and crew members from all four movies are featured in interviews on this disc and they make for fascinating viewing for fans of the genre. Also included is Warren's first film to receive a public screening, 'Fragment', a short movie with no dialogue, but a very good jazz soundtrack, about a relationship from a young woman's point of view.
Additionally, each film has a director's commentary plus short features, interviews and subtitles.
This collection is well worth seeing if you're into 1970s independent horror films.
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