ICFIFC: The Touch of Satan (1971)

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Monday, January 19, 2015

ICFIFC: The Touch of Satan (1971)

The Touch of Satan is a 1971 horror film.  It was directed by Don Henderson, and it starred Michael Berry and Emby Mellay in their debut roles.  The film was shot in 1970 in the Santa Ynez, California area and featured early work by movie makeup artist Joe Blasco.  The film was relatively obscure, playing only in drive-in theaters and dollar movie houses until a 1998 appearance on the series Mystery Science Theater 3000.

The Touch of Satan (1971)

  • A.K.A. Title: Night of The Demon
  • A.K.A. Title: The Touch of Melissa
  • Genre: Horror
  • Directed: Don Henderson
  • Produced: George E. Carey
  • Written: James E. McLarty
  • Starring: Michael Berry, Emby Mellay, Lee Amber, Yvonne Winslow, Jeanne Gerson, Robert Easton, Lew Horn, Sharon Crabtree, John J. Fox, Hal K. Dawson, Frank Jansen, Ellen Bailey
  • Music: Robert O. Ragland
  • Cinematography: Jordan Cronenweth
  • Editing: Dick Elliott
  • Studio: Stupendous Talking Pictures International
  • Distributed:
    • Futurama International  
    • Dundee Productions  
    • International Film Distributors  
    • Parker National Distributing  
    • Shout! Factory  
    • Cinefear  
    • King of Video
  • Rated:
  • Release Date: 23 August 1971 (USA)
  • Running Time: 90 minutes
  • Country: USA
  • Language: English

The Touch of Melissa?  Was someone working through a bad breakup and wanted the world to equate “The Horned One” with some poor girl who broke your heart?

The movie begins with the murder of a farmer by an elderly insane woman with terribly burned facial features.  After stabbing the farmer and accidentally setting his barn on fire, the woman stumbles home to her family.  The family, an older couple and a teenage woman, argue about the best way to handle the situation and make vague references that the elderly woman may have killed people in the past.

The scene then switches to the main character, a young man named Jodie who is on an open-ended car trip across America to find himself and discover whether or not he wishes to follow in his father's footsteps as a lawyer.  Jodie stops at a small pond to have lunch and meets Melissa, the teenage girl from the previous scene.  They banter briefly and she convinces him to come visit her family on their walnut farm, despite the intense distress this offer causes her parents.  The young couple grows increasingly close, despite the frightening presence of the elderly woman and various clues dropped along the way that Melissa is, in fact, a 127-year-old witch and the birth sister of the elderly insane woman.

When the old woman murders a deputy policeman in front of Jodie, Melissa confesses that she is a cursed witch and is possessed by Satan.  Jodie refuses to believe this, so Melissa reveals in a dream-sequence that her sister was burned as a witch by an angry mob of villagers in the 19th century.  Melissa was so distressed by the sight of her sister being burned at the stake that she offered her soul to Satan in order to gain the power to save her.  Satan agreed and allowed Melissa to save her sister.  Melissa was given eternal life and youth as a result of this bargain, but the gift was a curse as she watched her now-insane sister grow old and homicidal.  The old woman tries to kill Jodie, but Melissa uses her powers to stop her and her sister dies in a fire that she started.  Jodie eventually believes Melissa and has sex with her, effectively "freeing" her from Satan.  Unexpectedly, however, she instantly ages to her "actual" age and Jodie must sell his soul to Satan in order to restore Melissa's youth and save her life.  The movie ends with the realization that each are bound to Satan and that Melissa's attempt to save herself has only managed to draw Jodie into the evil contract as well.

The film was featured on a season nine episode of the movie-mocking show Mystery Science Theater 3000 where it was "riffed".  The episode makes frequent references to dialogue gaffes in the film, such as Jodie referring to the Strickland family farm as a "walnut ranch."



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