Sunday, September 4, 2011

Satan's Storybook (1989)

Directed by Michael Rider 
Starring Ginger Lynn and the guy who wrote The Howling.

“I have training for this journey all of my life.”

Satan's Storybook was directed by the mysterious Michael Rider, who never made another film. And I'm being generous by saying that he “made a film” here. Because this is not actually a movie. Unless camcorder-shot footage of non-actors in halloween masks spouting gibberish is a movie, in which case, I am now finished with movies. It's pure 80's fast-buck bargain video garbage that fails on every artistic level, but retains a modicum of grubby charm thanks to the inclusion of former (and, eventually, returning) porn queen Ginger Lynn and a few examples of classic VHS-era fashions and artifacts.

Storybook is a horror anthology, and like all multi-story spookers, it's got a wraparound segment. Satan – AKA a jazz hands-y dude in a goat mask – is waiting for his minions to fetch his queen. She's been absconded by Christeeth (Ginger Lynn), who wants revenge against the devil for killing her sister. Something like that. Mostly it's Ginger and the other chick tromping around in the woods yelling at each other.

Anyway, while Satan waits patiently for queeny to come back, he gets his jester to tell him stories to pass the time. In the first, a hesher dirtbag serial killer (he's wearing an Exodus t-shirt!) breaks into a sleepy suburban home, slashing up mom and dad and coming very close to splattering the brains of Aqua-netted daughter Jezebell (Leesa Roland) before the cops show up and cart him off.

He gets sentenced to death, but Jez wants to pull the plug on him herself, so six years later, on the eve of his execution, she calls on her dead witchy grandma to give her magical powers. Moments before the guard turns up the juice on the electric chair, he is whisked over to Jez's place, still strapped into the chair, to face a sentence even more gruesome than one he already faced.

And then Ginger Lynn has a sword fight with a goblin.

And also what looks like a guy in a Scooby Doo mask with a machete. She is nearly defeated, but blows some magical dust in the air (something tells me 'magical dust' was 98% of the budget for this) and vanishes.

Time for story number two. Charlie (Howling author Gary Brandner!) is a drunken clown with a giant afro who gets fired  from the “Clown House” for hitting the sauce, and promptly hangs himself.

Weird thing is, though, he wakes up some time later, assuming the whole ugly mess was just a booze-soaked nightmare. But then a squeaky-voiced  reaper clown shows up to drag him to hell. But first he makes Charlie watch himself getting cut down from the noose. Panicked, Charlie tries to bail, but reaper-clown lays a whole religious trip on him, and that's pretty much that. Or is it? Can a drunk clown cheat the devil?

No. No, he cannot.

And that not-so neatly brings us back to the beginning. The Queen of Hell (Leslie Deutsch – she was on Fantasy Island once!) returns to her hubby the devil. And they lived happily ever after.

No they don't. She tells him she's leaving him. And then she does. He rips off his cape in anguish.

And then Ginger Lynn shows up for a Jesus-y coda. The end.

In the mid-late 80's Lynn, hoping to make the leap into mainstream movies ala Traci Lords, started showing up in random weird shit like this. Her name guaranteed that at least a few fools would buy it. I am one of those fools. I do not regret it, although I will tell you this: Satan's Storybook is dull, threadbare, devoid of nudity and gore, way too preachy (and possibly even Christian propaganda), annoying, lame, and fucking stupid. Of course, maybe that's what you're looking for. I don't know what you're into.

PS Leesa Roland, please get in touch. I get the feeling you have many hair-raising tales to tell.

- Ken McIntyre 

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