Reviewed by Gareth Jones
Directed by Mario Bianchi
Starring Jacqueline Dupré, Mariangela Giordano, Aldo Sambrell
Distributed by Shameless Screen Entertainment
In their quest to track down some of the most obscure, and revered, films amongst the exploitation and sleaze genres, the UK’s no. 1 DVD label for fans – Shameless – presents us with Mario Bianchi’s 1982 sleazefest Satan’s Baby Doll (aka La Bimba di Satana).
A remake of Andrea Bianchi’s previous flick Malabimba, Satan’s Baby Doll tells the story of a group of people living within the castle of the affluent Antonio Aguilar. Opening with the funeral of his wife, Maria, it isn’t long before his sultry young daughter, Miria, is repeatedly possessed by her mother’s raunchy spirit in order to dish out revenge on the occupants and reconnect with her true love within the walls. Hint: it isn’t Antonio.
Satan’s Baby Doll could in no way be accused of being amongst the pinnacles of the genre, however Bianchi’s minimalist approach drips atmosphere – in no small part due to the fantastic location. Striking European architecture, magnificent halls, staggering staircases, eerie crypts and dank dungeons abound, adding much more to the film than, well, anything else it contains. Bianchi pulls off a few impressive shots, especially in the latter sections of the film, but for the most part it’s rather flat. The dead mother’s acts of revenge lack punch, with only a rather out of place zombie/mummy attack delivering the kind of mind-bending imagination one would expect. The sleazier aspects rarely deliver either. Of course we have the requisite naked nun and lesbianism (along with extra footage from the XXX version that Shameless have placed back into the film – as much as they could get away with before the knife of the censors would descend) but it’s lacking in passion, and a super-extended and awkwardly edited female masturbation/fantasy scene long outstays its welcome. The general plot of a nubile young daughter possessed by the vengeance and sex-obsessed spirit of her mother is obviously ripe for a literal explosion of shocking Italian sleaze. Satan’s Baby Doll, however, drops the ball.
Largely bloodless, too low on the actual sleaze factor, scenes that run on too long (despite the very short running time overall); occasionally plodding yet sporadically impressive, Satan’s Baby Doll is one for die-hard fans of the genre or completists only.
Shameless’ treatment of the film is admirable on this DVD release. It appears to sport the same excellent transfer as Severin’s US release, but as mentioned previously Shameless have also introduced extra footage from the XXX version. This footage hasn’t been treated so the jump in quality is immediately noticeable, but it’s perfectly welcome and another indicator of the label’s love for genre cinema and its fans.
In terms of special features, Shameless have included the trailer, an alternate scene of lead actor Aldo Sambrell’s demise, an alternate opening which appears to have come from the XXX version, a relatively short yet informative text/image biography of the beautiful Mariangela Giordano written by Alan Jones and Mark Ashworth and, finally, the “Shameless Trailer Park” – a selection of trailers for all of their releases to date which are just great to sit and watch. Can’t believe I’ve never seen Ruggero Deodato’s Phantom of Death! The package also contains a fold-out poster of the original artwork for Satan’s Baby Doll. Kudos to Shameless for putting together everything they could for this particular film, but it doesn’t amount to much of any worth unfortunately save for the Giordano biography.
1 1/2 out of 5
1 1/2 out of 5
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