Satan's Whip


by Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski)

I have seen some odd movies over the years, but I don't know if I have ever seen one comparable to this. What makes it so supremely strange is that it is a 94 minute black comedy with about 91 minutes of perfectly serious plotline about some Catholic priests trying to track down some satanic cultists in order to perform an exorcism. If you were to watch those 91 minutes, your most probable top-line reaction would be that it is a low-budget horror movie with some amateur moments, but that the director did some fairly interesting things with a budget very close to zero. You would probably not suspect that it was supposed to be a comedy, although it would sometimes seem a bit off kilter.

And then there are the other three minutes, which consist of absurd comedy performed with a straight face, just pure surrealism stuck in the middle of an otherwise straightforward genre flick. And there's no possibility that the humor could be unintentional. There is absolutely no question that those moments are meant to be funny, as the clip below illustrates:

You have to like the fact that both guys act as if the drawing represented something perfectly sensible.  Although that is a Woody Allen moment, I can't stress enough that the movie takes itself seriously in general. Well, kinda - at least it chooses to keep all the humor as deadpan as possible. But then it layers in a half-dozen "WTF?" moments similar to the one above.

Another example: There is a straightforward capture-torture scene in which an insane devil worshipper wants a young Catholic acolyte to betray his allies. When the standard torture methods fail to produce the desired results, the madman threatens the brave young man with the most painful death of all: being grated to death with a cheese grater - a death as slow as it is excruciating. That gets him to talk.

What can you say? Satan's Whip is unique. Apart from the nutty tone shifts, it has various plusses and minuses. On the positive side, the director managed to get some damned good performances from a rag-tag cast of nobodies, showed a grotesque sense of humor, created some atmosphere without spending any money on it, and achieved some good visual effects by allowing swaths of color to shine through what is essentially a b&w movie (as you can see from the clip). That's a pretty good bang for the non-existent buck. On the negative side, the plot between the punch lines can get tedious, and you may find yourselves tapping your toes, thinking "get on with it."

Did I like the movie? Damned if I know. I'm still trying to figure that out. How is one supposed to react? It's not really funny enough consistently enough to be considered a comedy, and it's not really spooky enough consistently enough to be a horror film, and yet it really does have a certain offbeat appeal.  Imagine for a moment the first time you read The Tell-Tale Heart. Now imagine that one of your buddies pulled an April Fool's prank on you and inserted a half-dozen comic zingers in the middle of it, leaving everything else intact. That's the experience you get from watching this movie.


* widescreen anamorphic








  No major reviews online.


4.6 IMDB summary (of 10)

There are very few reviews or comments online, but you can make a safe bet that reviewers will love it or despise it, and that most of the IMDb scores will be 1s and 10s, with very few people scoring it in the lukewarm areas. When I checked the stats, there were 29 votes including ten 1s and ten 10s. There were no fives, sixes or sevens! And yet overall the film scores in the middle - the group scores it right in the range where no individual actually scores it! And that's probably fair.



Straight to DVD.




Hannah Friedman has five topless scenes, but each one is only a few seconds long, and the five are virtually indistinguishable. She plays a demon that appears to the young seminarian every time he falls asleep.



Our Grade:

If you are not familiar with our grading system, you need to read the explanation, because the grading is not linear. For example, by our definition, a C is solid and a C+ is a VERY good movie. There are very few Bs and As. Based on our descriptive system, this film is a:


It's a love it or hate it movie. I found it consistently interesting enough to survive without resorting to the fast forward button.