[NSFW THEATER!] NUDE FOR SATAN (1974)

 

 

 

 

With a title like NUDE FOR SATAN (1974), you enter into a viewing of the film with certain expectations. Primarily, that there will be both nudity and Satan. While I can only say for certain that one of those things were present, I can confirm that NUDE FOR SATAN is one of the most beautiful, well shot films of the ‘70s that has fallen into obscurity; perhaps it’s the fault of the title, leaning too heavily on the erotic aspects of the story, or it’s the fault of the hardcore scenes cut into the Dutch release, scenes that detract from the overall quality of the picture, but NUDE FOR SATAN is one of those films that has not been given the respect it is due.

 

 

Director Luigi Batzella, best known for his SS-camp exploitation features, begins his masterful NUDE FOR SATAN with a slow-motion shot of the gorgeous Rita Calderoni running fully nude through a forest. The movie never pauses to address what is actually happening; rather, it sets the tone for the dream of a film that will follow. We then change gears and follow actor Stelio Candelli as he crashes his car shortly before Rita Calderoni does the same. With Rita in no state to move, Stelio takes it upon himself to hike up to the nearby gothic castle and seek help. Inside he finds another version of the girl he saved, played again by Rita Calderoni, though it’s clear by her behaviour that she isn’t the same character that he left behind.

 

 

 

The next morning, when Stelio hasn’t returned to help her, Rita travels to the castle herself, to seek help and to find out what happened to Stelio, and finds herself trapped within the confines of the castle which serve as a little piece of hell on Earth — where basic principles of space and time fail to work as expected. Within the castle — which itself demonstrates a highpoint of the film, the beautiful use of the old European architecture which is lacking from American films — Rita and Stelio meet an unnamed character played by James Harris but credited as “The Devil.” Harris’ first meeting with Rita sees him stripping her nude, whether this is in reality or in his mind is unclear as the film superimposes her nude form over his eye and never addresses her return to clothing, before leading her off to her own room where she showers and has a softcore encounter with another lady before realizing that she must escape the castle and the dark secret within.

 

 

This would be a good spot to take a moment to address the biggest issue this film faces: the inclusion of hardcore scenes in the Dutch release. When exploitation films of this nature were being produced at the end of the sixties and throughout the seventies, the rights to final cut within a given country would often be sold off so that distributors from countries with looser censorship laws could include scenes of harder material. Unfortunately, as is the case with NUDE FOR SATAN, these scenes weren’t shot by the original filmmakers; are clearly on different sets; with different actors serving as body doubles; maintain a different colour temperature; terrible cinematography that, in this case flies in the face of the wonderful work done by Antonio Maccoppi; slows the progression of the plot down terribly; and, worse of all, the footage is not even erotic. NUDE FOR SATAN uses its dreamscape cinematography to create the atmosphere of an erotic dream, it’s unrelenting odd, beautiful, and sexy. The erotic scenes within the film proper are akin to a nice buzz off some red wine while the hardcore is straight up mainlining cocaine; it just ruins the tone of the film entirely.

 

 

The proper Italian release of NUDE FOR SATAN is a wonderfully erotic masterpiece of the highest order. Rita Calderoni stands out in a double performance, as the castle creates doubles of those that enter, in which she is equally naive and evil; she plays the role with a sensuality that is, as yet, unsurpassed within the erotic horror field. Antonio Maccoppi’s cinematography is made up of flowing camera movements that alternate between hiding and showing the action in a way that leaves the viewer begging for more. The manipulation of time and space leaves the castle feeling like a vortex out of time, a place that could never exist; but the ending confirms our deepest fears — that it undoubtedly must exist and is waiting for each of us.

 

 

Zack Long

Zack Long is an independent film historian with a focus on horror, an aspiring filmmaker, a cat owner, and host of the 'Paths of Glory; or How I Learned To Stop Worrying and Love the Shlock' podcast. When he isn’t working on something film related, you can find him ‘enjoying’ an overabundance of caffeine, or playing roleplaying games with his friends. Check out Paths of Glory at soundcloud.com/pathsofglorypod!

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