The Touch of Satan is yet another low budget horror movie that can credit its inclusion in the Bottom 100 to the folks from Mystery Science Theater 3000. This is one that I have watched a number of times, though it is nowhere near being one of my favorites. The movie is pretty unremarkable among MST3K features, in that it is neither as dull as something like The Starfighters not as off the wall as Future War. It is very much a middle-of-the-road film for the program, which means that it is both relatively watchable while being plenty forgettable. Despite how many times I’ve seen this one, I was having trouble remembering plot points as I was initially reviewing it. That generally doesn’t speak well for a movie.
One of the kickers to this movie is that it is pretty mislabeled and confused in concept. The movie features witchcraft and witches, which is conflated with satanism and devil-worship in this movie. In case you aren’t aware, those aren’t even sort of the same thing. One of the early promotions played it up as an exorcism movie, which it most certainly is not. It may have been in a situation like “Devil Fish”, where no one was quite sure how to market the movie effectively (leading to a number of alternate titles). Interestingly, none of the titles I have seen have referred to either witches or immortality, which are actually more central to the plot of the movie.
A pretty serious issue with the movie is the lack of a compelling villain. The killer in the movie is essentially just an old woman, which doesn’t exactly strike fear into the hearts of an audience. Again, that sort of villain is hard to market, as you can tell from the advertisements for the film that I’ve featured here. She also isn’t particularly interesting to watch on screen, and there isn’t any tension built around here. There just don’t seem to be any stakes (har har) to the movie, or a drive to keep the plot moving. It drags the film on significantly, and certainly contributes to how forgettable it is.
The acting and chemistry between the leading couple is also not up to par, which is a significant focus of most of the movie. If they were a little more compelling or intriguing, the movie may have come out more watchable. As it is, the whole thing is just a chore to sit through without the MST3K treatment. Even with it, it isn’t a great bad movie watch. It is typically available on Netflix streaming though, and makes for decent background noise if you are doing something else (like writing a review of this movie, for instance). Just don’t expect to get a whole lot of laughs out of it.