An Angel for Satan Blu-ray Review (Severin Films)

Barbara with the Steele-y performance

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Barbara Steele starred in a number of Italian gothic films during her illustrious career, but her most famous will always be Black Sunday thanks to Mario Bava’s masterful direction. Her last Italian gothic performance – a dual role, no less – was An Angel for Satan, and clearly director Camillo Mastrocinque gleaned some inspiration from Bava’s picturesque cinematography for this moody affair about a cursed statue that involves possession, lust, murder, and a bit of sculpture. Co-starring with Steele is Anthony Steffen, who plays her love interest and art restorer Merigi called to Count Montebruno’s manor to fix up the aforementioned bewitched statue.

An Angel for Satan features a languid pace, but Mastrocinque immediately throws the viewer into the situation once Merigi arrives at Montebruno’s village. The 19th century denizens are superstitious, and they immediately blame the recovered statue of Montebruno’s ancestor for causing a number of mishaps including two boat deaths. Harriet (Steele) has an obvious resemblance to the statue, and the villagers label her a witch; it doesn’t help that Merigi also has a strange nighttime encounter with a talking portrait of the Montebruno’s much less beautiful ancestor Belinda, who tells the tragic story of drowning in the sea due to her ugliness.

The supernatural elements in An Angel for Satan are prominent throughout, and Mastrocinque does a great job with misdirection throughout. Steele’s performance requires her to shift between the lovely, good-natured Harriet and the assumed presence of Belinda possessing her body and causing seductive mischief around town; her raven-haired look and wide eyes do a great job selling innocence and mischievousness, although there’s intention here to disguise the difference between Belinda and Harriet too to keep both the viewer and Merigi guessing.

The film’s most interesting moments occur during Steele’s sultry seductions. One of “Belinda”‘s motivations is to ruin love for anyone, and she interferes in multiple relationships along the way. Her ravishing looks certainly enhance the believability of her impact on the men in town, and there are a number of sexy implied sequences. While the violence and explicit sex are tame, the tension of these moments adds momentum to the film’s plot.

And just as Mastrocinque is able to capture the beauty of Steele, he also knows how to get the most out of the gothic Italian settings on display in An Angel for Satan. Beautiful backdrops and setpieces provide eye candy for the wandering eye, and though they don’t come nearly close to Bava’s mise en scene, it’s still a wondrously shot film.

The movie’s conclusion doubles back on the implied supernatural elements for a giallo-esque twist reveal that works fairly well despite feeling a bit rushed. An Angel for Satan‘s slow pacing gives way to an abrupt end with a good amount of chaos, and overall it’s an effective deviation from expectation. Ultimately, this gothic churner from Mastrocinque is well worth a watch for its unique story and picturesque 19th century backdrops.


Severin Films brings An Angel for Satan to Blu-ray with a new 2K scan from the original 35mm camera negative. Historically, the film has not had great picture quality, but that all changes with this 2021 release that features an extremely strong transfer. The new restoration shows the beauty and contrast of Mastrocinque’s black-and-white cinematography quite well, though at times the additional detail reveals some cheapness in the sets. However, the Blu-ray exhibits robust facial and clothing definition. At times, the source shows its age with a few lines, burns, and hairs, but these are relatively minor inconveniences. Grain scale is medium-bodied with occasional heavier grain in darker scenes. Overall, a solid picture offering.

Audio includes both the Italian DTS-HD MA 2.0 mono soundtrack as well as a thought-lost English 2.0 mono track. Both sound fairly robust, with the Italian track being slightly louder; I found neither overly preferable to the other, though. English subtitles are included for the English track, and English translated subtitles can be turned on for the Italian dub.

Extra features include two new audio commentaries, the first with Barbara Steele, historian David Del Valle, and David Gregory. This track is recommended simply because of Steele’s presence, who offers a number of interjections about the film. The second track features Kat Ellinger providing more contextual background about the film and its stars. Also new to this release is a 19-minute interview with Vassili Karis, who plays a schoolteacher in the film. He mostly shares some funny anecdotes about avoiding starring in a few horror films. Included in this interview are some snippets of film history from Fabio Melelli, which I thought was slightly odd added to this overall interview and probably could have used its own featurette. A short film entitled “Barbara & Her Furs” starring Barbara Steele is included as well, based on the classic Venus in Furs. Barbara Steele also provides partial commentary. Finally, a trailer and extended trailer are included.

Note: there’s a quick 2-minute excerpt from the film I motorizzati as an Easter egg if you select up from the audio commentary with Steele. In this excerpt directed by Mastrocinque, the characters are watching Bava’s Black Sunday.

This release gets a limited edition hardback slipcover with alternate artwork as well (see gallery).

Extra Features

  • NEW Scanned in 2K from the original negative – with both the Italian and thought-lost English tracks
  • NEW Audio Commentary With Actress Barbara Steele And Horror Film Historian David Del Valle
  • NEW Audio Commentary With Kat Ellinger, Author Of ‘Daughters Of Darkness’
  • NEW The Devil Statue — Interview With Actor Vassili Karis (HD; 18:25)
  • Barbara & Her Furs — 1967 Short Film By Pierre Andro Based On “Venus In Furs” Starring Barbara Steele With Optional Partial Commentary By Steele (unrestored HD; 9:27)
  • Trailer (HD; 2:00)
  • Extended Trailer (HD; 2:30)
  • Easter egg: excerpt from I motorizzati (unrestored HD; 2:01)
  • NEW Limited slipcover


An Angel for Satan is a satisfying gothic thriller from Mastrocinque with a seductive performance from Barbara Steele. Severin Films has given it a great Blu-ray release with an excellent new transfer a number of new bonus features that easily make this worth a collector’s while.

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