TV Terror Guide: Satan's School for Girls (1973)
Production Companies: Spelling-Goldberg Productions
Running Time: 78 min.
Available on: DVD (Cheezy Flicks Ent.), YouTube
Written by: Arthur A. Ross
Directed by: David Lowell Rich
Cast: Pamela Franklin, Kate Jackson, Lloyd Bochner, Jamie Smith-Jackson, Roy Thinnes, Jo Van Fleet, Cheryl Ladd
Satan’s School for Girls (1973) is probably a 1970s TV movie that people remember fondly. However, I’m willing to bet that a modern-day viewing will leave you at least a little disappointed. It’s such a product of its time and, while it does have some spooky moments, it doesn’t hold up very well overall.
The plot is simple. Refusing to believe she committed suicide, Elizabeth (Pamela Franklin) travels to Massachusetts to investigate the death of her sister and stumbles into a satanic cult at the private school she attended. That’s it. No pesky subplots or character development to interfere. The bad guy(s) are interesting, I suppose, but they’re more caricatures than characters.
Lloyd Bochner plays Delacroix, the psychology professor performing cruel experiments on rats. In their maze, he attempts to make them passive so they can’t fight back… “so they can act as we wish.” Like humans, they are apt to react more to terror than any other emotion… Humans are most dangerous when they’re in this state of terror." Hmmm… sounds like a red herring to me.
Roy Thinnes plays Clampett, the art teacher spouting hippy-dippy psychobabble like, “What we think we see is as real as what we really see. You have to let your mind hang loose… dare to see something differently.” I’m not saying Satan’s School for Girls isn’t fun at times. For example, it winks at you during moments such as when Clampett asks, “What the devil’s going on?”
Jo Van Fleet plays “Headmistress,” known as the “dragon lady.” She’s another obvious red herring in a mystery in which you know who is not the villain and, by process of elimination, learn the villain’s true identity in what is supposed to be a twist or surprise. Maybe there have been too many movies like this for it to be truly effective.
Believe it or not, Satan’s School for Girls was written by the same man who wrote Creature from the Black Lagoon and The Creature Walks Among Us! This was one of his last films, although he is also credited for the 2000 remake. It was directed by David Lowell Rich, who did episodes of The Twilight Zone and Alfred Hitchcock Presents, but also The Concorde: Airport ’79.
It has other great credentials, also. It was produced by Spelling-Goldberg Productions, who gave us many television hit series, included Charlie’s Angels. Coincidentally, three years before Charlie’s Angels, Satan’s School for Girls starred Kate Jackson as Roberta, and Cheryl Ladd (in a small part) as Jody. At that time, she was known as Cheryl Stoppelmoor.
We discussed Satan's School for Girls on Episode 35 of The Classic Horrors Club Podcast: Back to School. You can also visit the TV Terror Guide: 70's TV Movies playlist at ClassicHorrors.Club TV on YouTube to watch this as well as all the great movies from this series...