What do you do on a Saturday night in the southwest when you’re bored and a member of the local satanic cult? Well, you can always tie up a mexican sexpot with barbed wire, drive metal stakes through her hands, and set her on fire. Which is what members of "The Disciples of Death" are doing on Black mesa near the Mexican border.
But since human sacrifices have a way of attracting attention, Deputy Sheriff Jase (DAVID S. CASS), "the Matt Dillon of West Texas," starts poking around. He starts poking around. He starts by looking for a missing guy named Ozzie Perkins who had his tire shot out by a roadside sniper, hitched a ride to get help, and ended up getting crucified in a giant cavern. When Ozzie's burnt-to-a-crisp body is found by hunters ("Fire: it's a hard way to go..."), Jase checks into a nearby desert-style hunting lodge run by a self-described "high-class hermit" named Glenn (JOSH BRYANT),as does anthropologist Leslie Culver (IRENE KELLY) who's writing a book on "weird cults and crazy religions."
In fact, by the time the above-mentioned Mexican gal is turned to toast, and on of Glenn's guests is tossed into a snake pit by a bunch of chanting, cloak-wearing, torch wielding cultists, Leslie is pretty sure the culprits are a new strain on Penitentes who, despite the title, aren't really satanic though they do love a good human sacrifice. Unfortunately, as she quickly learns, you never really know who's a member of cult until you're spread out on their sacrificial altar: "this unbeliever has come among us to learn our secrets, to expose our brotherhood, to blaspheme our beliefs! For this, she must die..."
A well-made regional rarity (with a surprising plot twist at about the one-hour mark), Enter The Devil puts the emphasis on desert atmosphere -- it really does look like it was shot in the middle of nowhere -- rather than violence. Though some might see it as a precursor to The Hills Have Eyes, it's more like an updated version of the old 1936 roadshow classic The Lash of the Penitentes (a film that, apparently, no longer exists uncut) which documented the rituals of a real Penitentes cult in Taos, New Mexico. That Enter the Devil also plays straighter than the average exploitation horror film is no surprise since both director FRANK Q. DOBBS and leading man DAVID S. CASS would go on to carve out careers working on family friendly cable movies. On the other hand, top-billed Josh Bryant is probably best known to Something Weird fans for his starring roles (under different names) in two Harry Novak sleaze epics directed by Carl Monson, Scream in the Streets, and The Takers. Theatrically released on an official double bill with School of Fear (by the obscure indie Sunset International Pictures), Enter the Devil's end titles boast the credit "Filmed on location at Villa de la Mina, Terlingua, Texas" which seems guaranteed to attract really scary tourists.
From a 35mm print that's as rough as the desert -- Frank Henenlotter
Starring: Joshua Bryant
Co-starring: Irene Kelly
Other cast: David S. Cass, John Martin
Directed by: Frank Q. Dobbs
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