Color, 1974, 68m.
Directed by Gerard Damiano
Starring John Francis, Lisa Christian, Paul Barry, Jarrar Ramze, Ann Paul, James Procter, Deborah Horlen

Color, 1973, 69m.
Directed by Andy Milligan
Starring Allan Berendt, Hope Stansbury, Patricia Gaul, Michael Fischetti, Pamela Adams, Eve Crosby, John Wallowitch, Pichulina Hempi
Code Red (Blu-ray) (US R0 HD) / WS (1.78:1) (16:9)

Legacy of Satan

Legacy of SatanNow here's a double feature that must've had viewers questioning their sanity by the one-hour mark when Bryanston unleashed it in 1974: the sole legit horror film by Deep Throat director Gerard Daminao, shot in between his dark hardcore masterpieces The Devil in Miss Jones and The Story of Joanna, and a melodramatic story of vampirism and killer plants by prolific, bargain basement Staten Island auteur Andy Milligan. Both are still fascinating viewing today, albeit not for newbies to the horror genre, and a limited edition Blu-ray from Code Red distributed through Screen Archives preserves them both in all their grubby glory.

As you'd probably expect from an early '70s film called Legacy of Satan, our first film kicks off with a protracted satanic ceremony over the opening credits presided over by a nameless priestess of the dark arts (Horlen) who has to select a new queen every thousand years to serve with her leader, Dr. Muldavo (Francis). Fortunately they have a strong candidate in Maya (Christian), whose photograph makes its way into Muldavo's clutches, and her husband George (Barry) and friend Arthur (Procter) are a little put out by watching her get seduced to the dark side. As Maya is consumed by hallucinations and bloodletting impulses, it's up to George (and a handy glowing magic sword during the climax) to try to fend off the forces of darkness.Legacy of Satan

Though there's zero evidence to back it up, rumors have persisted for years that this was originally shot as a hardcore film but had all of its XXX content removed by Bryanston. That seems to be more conjecture on the basis of Damiano's name than anything borne out by the film, which doesn't show any signs of having explicit footage removed and features no significant actors remotely connected to hardcore. In fact, keep your eyes peeled for an early, nameless role for beautiful TV actress Christa Helm, now most famous today for her brutal murder three years after this film's release. It certainly wasn't unheard of for erotic directors to try a switch to more mainstream horror, with Joe Sarno making Veil of Blood around the same time and Armand Weston directing The Nesting a few years later, so it's probably more likely that this originated in script form as an adult film but morphed into something far more legit along the way (a la Last House on the Left). What we're left with is a real oddity filled with garish colors, a pounding electronic score that will either send you into retro ecstasy or having you reaching for painkillers, and highly erratic acting reminiscent of a particularly grim soap opera.

A drab, highly compressed transfer of this one popped up in Brentwood's Blood Bath 2 set on DVD, but you can skip that one in favor of the fresh HD transfer on the Code Red disc, which looks excellent with vibrant colors, excellent contrast, and satisfying widescreen framing. The DTS-HD MA mono audio sounds much, much better than ever before; the bass and clarity of the music in the opening credits will definitely make your ears perk up.

Our co-feature on the same Blu-ray is one of the lesser seen Andy Milligan horror films, often overlooked in favor of more widely distributed titles like Bloodthirsty Butchers and The Ghastly Ones. For more on that one, click here to read about it as part of Severin's The Dungeon of Andy Milligan set.

Reviewed on October 27, 2015.