Starring: Felissa Rose, Ellen Sandweiss, Edwin Neal, Irma St. Paule, Danny
Lopes, Christie Sanford, Ron Millkie
Directed by: Dante Tomaselli
Story: Satan's Playground is a chiller with a vacationing family lost in the
woods and the Jersey Devil lurking in the Pine Barrens.
Satan’s Playground, directed by Dante Tomaselli adding the fourth film to his
credit. This film although listed as a 2005 release, I remember hearing about
this film being shot four years back and I’ve been exited to see it ever since.
Starring Ellen Sanweiss of EVIL DEAD fame, and Felissa Rose of the cult
classic SLEEPAWAY CAMP. The film begins with a family containing Rose as
Donna, Sandweiss as her sister Paula, Paula’s infant, Donna’s husband Frank
and their autistic son Sean. They are riding along to I didn’t catch where (I
assume vacationing?) as they fight in the car the way many family’s do.
Donna pops pills, and Paula complains she’s hearing inaudible noises. Their
car breaks down in the middle of the woods, and husband Frank goes to
seek help. He comes across a seemingly abandoned cabin and knocks at the
door. An old decrepit woman answers and introduces herself as Mrs. Leeds.
The woman is accompanied by her creepy daughter who is reminiscent to the
character Fanny in the 1988 film AMERICAN GOTHIC.
For those of you who didn’t catch that one, she’s a middle aged woman who
dresses like a 5 year old girl; pig tails and all. Frank is captured by the senile
woman and her daughter, so Donna decides to go see where the hell Frank
went and hence, arrives at the same cabin and encounters Mrs. Leeds as well.
Without spoiling what happens next, let’s just say this isn’t the end of this
old woman and she’s pretty much up to no good. I think this film had a lot of
pros, and a lot of cons. I’ll start with the good stuff first. This film was very
beautifully lit. The locations were fantastic and very similar to Evil Dead, which
I can only assume was done on purpose. Regardless, it captured the same
feel. The film was shot on 16mm which gave it that nostalgic feeling and really
brought you back to the days of 80’s horror. It's very raw and captivating.
The acting was hit and miss. Irma St. Paul who plays Mrs. Leeds was really
terrifying. She nailed her performance in this film. I was completely convinced
she was the elderly crazy lady interviewed in the beginning of THE BLAIR
WITCH PROJECT, but upon further investigation it looks like I was wrong.
Felissa Rose was convincing through about 80% of the movie, but there were
moments that came across as so unbelievable I had to roll my eyes. Ellen
Sanweiss was utterly horrible, and I hate to say that. She was really bad. If
there was ever a time I wanted to see Sandweiss raped by a tree again, it
would have been in this movie. The casting didn't so much fit the roles either.
Frank, Donna’s husband was twice her age and I only assumed it was her
father until that was cleared up for me. The dialogue just didn’t flow well
between the characters. Sandweiss’s character must have asked what ‘that
noise was’ about a half a dozen times and it’s frustrating for the viewer
because as an audience we don’t here any damn noise most of the time.
I think the most memorable scene in the entire movie was when Rose’s
character is tied up in the basement by one of Mrs. Leed’s retarded children. I
think it was supposed to be a serious scene, but I couldn’t keep a straight
face when she convinced her mentally challenged capture to release her after
offering him a bottle of Valium. The end of the movie slightly leaves you
hanging, not in a sense where you’re confused, but you just kind of feel
jipped. If you want a good Jersey Devil movie, this really isn’t it. I think
people will have mixed feelings for this. There really are a lot of good things
about it. I think Tomaselli really could be the next Masters of Horrors despite
the points I found as negatives. I'd recommend this for anyone who digs the
old school 70's and 80's in your face horror films. Also check out Dante's
other film HORROR, which actually scared the hell out of me and was very
surreal and David Lychian. I look forward to seeing Tomaselli progress in his
craft and I will be watching out for what he comes up with next.
Online since: February 20th, 2006
Review done by: Michelle Fatale