Friday, June 11, 2010

Satan's Wife

Satan’s Wife
AKA Un ombra nell’ombra
Directed by Pier Carpi
Released: 1979
Starring Anne Heywood, Valentina Cortese, Frank Finlay, John Phillip Law, Marisa Mell, Irene Papas, Paola Tedesco, Lara Wendel
Running Time: 87 minutes
DVD Studio: Mya Communication

The film opens with a disco satanic ritual featuring some nude dancers. Then we meet Carlotta (played by Anne Heywood), a former Satanist, and her daughter Daria (Lara Wendel), who Carlotta suspects is the child of Satan. Daria spends her time being a total asshole (so she has to be the devil’s kid) by torturing her teacher (Valentina Cortese) and a boy from her school. Carlotta seeks help from her witchy friends and even an evil priest (John Phillip Law) but Daria is too strong for them all. There is a final showdown but you’ll only see it if you’re still awake at the end of the movie.

If you were looking for the worst satanic horror film ever made, you’d meet up with Satan’s Wife on your way down the list. Way, way down. Pier Carpi serves as both director and writer on this one and botches them both pretty good. The film is also edited poorly and it feels as though scenes are out of order but they probably aren’t. The dubbing is particularly atrocious as are the lame visual effects. Stelvio Cipriani’s score is a synthmare (which I normally appreciate) but sounds awfully familiar. It may be made up outtakes from other better film scores.

One reason to check out this mess is for all the great actors on hand. Anne “Chiseled Cheekbones” Heywood of The Killer Is On the Phone is great as the exasperated mother of the daughter of Satan. Heywood is always good for some Joan Collins level silliness and this film is no exception. Dig on her rocker makeup for the big final ceremony. Valentina Cortese of Juliet of the Spirits and Irene Papas of Oasis of Fear are pretty great and do a fine job in this terrible flick. John Phillip Law and Marisa Mell of Diabolik? What the hell? Were they bored that year or something? The insanely beautiful Paola Tedesco of Watch Me When I Kill is here as well but I will she wasn’t. Tedesco, who hasn’t acted since the early 80s, is totally underused in this film.

Lara Wendel would show up for a grisly death scene in Tenebre a few years after this nightmare. She would even get starring roles in Umberto Lenzi’s Ghosthouse and the terrible Joe D’Amato produced Zombie 5: Killing Birds. In Satan’s Wife, Wendel has some pretty cool moments but mostly this child of the devil doesn’t act very evil. Daria just seems like a smug teenage jerk who is obsessed with dolls and occasionally talks directly to the camera. The potential is there for a really creepy performance but Pier Capri’s confused script just isn’t up to the task.

It’s impossible not to be a little underwhelmed and/or insulted by Satan’s Wife but if you’re like me, you’ll ignore the bad reviews and watch this sleazy crap anyway. Pier Carpi’s film is a bottom of the barrel Exorcist/Omen-clone but it does feature some unintentional comedy from the terrible dialogue, pitiful overacting, and wacky opening dance number. Pretty much everyone involved (except the director/writer) has done better work elsewhere. There are some interesting elements like how all of Carlotta’s old satanic buddies’ lives are destroyed because of their alliance to the dark lord. Hey, you know what? This film features a chess analogy! Okay, okay, don’t watch this one.


“Where did you get my sword? I told you never to go near that cupboard!”

DVD Stuff

Here comes another Mya Communication bootleg and that’s totally cool with me. If anyone spent any time trying to restore Satan’s Wife, they’d probably take a look at the final product and then go on a killing spree. The film looks a little murky and quite scratchy but definitely watchable. The English audio is in decent enough shape. There is an Italian audio track available on the disc but no English subs.


  1. Here's a review I wrote a few years ago. Needless to say, I liked it a lot better than you did!

    Italian movie that manages to flawlessly combine elements from popular Satan-centric movies of the era: exorcisms, demonic rituals, and spawn-of-the-devil children. Here, a coven of middle-aged Satan-worshipping women are worried about the effects of their black masses on their young teenage daughters. They try their best to remedy the situation by inviting a reluctant priest (underutilized John Phillip Law) to perform an exorcism on one of the girls, but this female Damien (named Daria!) is much stronger than expected. Anne Heywood is terrific as the worried mother (and still looked good for her age) but it’s Lara Wendel who steels the show as the bitchy teen daughter trying make her daddy Lucifer proud. The movie is full of otherworldly moments including ritual scenes where topless women prance around a smug Lucifer in human form; a scene where young Wendel buries her fingernails clippings in a potted plant so that nobody has access to a part of her body (!); and a scene where a schoolteacher freaks out, runs out of the classroom screaming and jumps off the school roof after Wendel draws a circle on the blackboard. Other highlights include a groovy Satanic handshake (!!) and similar hand gesture that can be used to blow out candles and magically open locked doors. The Devil has thought of everything! The deaths aren’t frequent or gory, but that’s not the point of the film. Instead, we get truly unforgettable visuals such as a bloody Eucharist, a burning handprint left on a boy’s chest and a jaw-dropping final nude confrontation between mother and 13-year-old daughter! Plus, all this action is complemented by the very best score Stelvio Cipriani has ever done. Highly recommended.

  2. Oh snap, I forgot about that hilarious secret satanic handshake. Wow, duder. "Highly recommended"? We did watch the same film, right? Now I want to watch it again.