Roadkill/My Sweet Satan

Roadkill/My Sweet Satan

The Van Bebber Collection

An essential director gets his UK DVD premiere, courtesy of on the UK's leading genre distributors. So, is this utterly essential? Well ... that's debatable. Where do I start? I guess the best way to evaluate this disc is to divide the review into pros and cons. So, here goes the neighbourhood:


Both films are excellent examples of what can be done on a budget.

ROADKILL (sub-titled THE LAST DAYS OF JOHN MARTIN) is a 15 minute descent into madness as the title character gets drunk in his squalid dwellings, collects dead animals, and finally goes out on a gory hunt for innocent victims. Fans of old-school US horror a'la TEXAS CHAIN SAW will lap this up. It looks raw and grainy, but suits this presentation. The picture quality is brighter than the old Exploited VHS release - check out those vivid reds as the male hitchhiker gets it ...totally uncut!!

MY SWEET SATAN recounts the true tale of Devil-worshipping teen Ricky Casso (also the subject of Tommy Turner's more transgressive WHERE EVIL DWELLS). Playing Ricky himself, the muscular VanBebber dominates the screen with his undeniable presence. Ricky's a jaded teen with a serious chip on his shoulder. One night at a house party, he notices a friend - Gary - stealing money from him - while Ricky's pretending to be asleep. Cue a trip into the woods the following evening for a show-down that will ultimately prove fatal for the disloyal Gary ... SATAN is an effective 20 minute film that is technically polished, well-acted and recommended viewing for anyone who loves their horror straight-faced and free of the usual Hollywood clichés. The picture quality is the best representation of this film so far on DVD.

There's plenty of interesting extras (early 8mm shorts by the director, the trailer for the eagerly anticipated CHARLIE'S FAMILY, an excellent 20 minute interview with VanBebber shot in 1999 offering his thoughts on early influences, censorship and the fate of DEADBEAT AT DAWN at the hands of the BBFC). You also get a few minutes of on-set footage from CHARLIE'S FAMILY, and a promo video for Necrophagia's "Embalmed Yet I Breathe". Not great, but it's here - so let's be thankful!

The real treat though is the audio commentary by the director on both short films. On ROADKILL he gives insight into the location, the acting methods of Mark Gillespie and the gore FX of the startling finale.

But it's the commentary for MY SWEET SATAN that really impresses. Clearly drinking while commentating, VanBebber is witty and informative to begin with, but aggressive when discussing a colleague who let him down on set - and goes absolutely spastic over BBFC head-honcho Robin Duval's decision to cut the film. Which leads us to the Cons ...


MY SWEET SATAN is already available uncut on the R1 disc of DEADBEAT AT DAWN. The version here is cut - a hugely impressive head-stomping/stabbing scene has been 'lessened'. Even VanBebber himself can't believe it - on the commentary he goes ape, wondering why Duval took offence to a prosthetic head being stabbed with a knife, dripping fake blood. Indeed, this is no fault of distributor or director, but a fact you may want to take into consideration before buying.

Most (almost all, in fact) of the material on this disc is already available on Exploited's brilliant ROADKILL/MY SWEET SATAN VHS release. Essentially what you're paying for is ROADKILL on DVD for the first time, a couple of commentary tracks totalling 36 mins or so, and a music video - oh, and a brief photo gallery.

The DEADBEAT AT DAWN trailer - advertised on the back cover - is nowhere to be seen. The VanBebber biography is one text page, and the filmography page is incomplete in that although it includes details of music videos he's directed, there's no mention of Necrophagia's AND YOU WILL LIVE IN TERROR - as featured on Anchor Bay's Special Edition of THE BEYOND (OK, so now I'm being pedantic!!).


And I speak as an owner of Synapse's DEADBEAT AT DAWN disc - I would heartily recommend this disc. Picture quality is good for it's 16mm origins. ROADKILL may be short but is a must-have addition to any self-respecting gore fan's collection, and MY SWEET SATAN is superior to it's R1 counterpart not only in picture quality but also due to the engaging commentary track that accompanies it. Don't worry about the few seconds of cuts - it's still an absorbing, dark, violent nightmare. The extras, while most having been previously available on VHS, are still a joy to behold.

The tragedy of the interview and commentary tracks though, is that we have here a gifted visionary with the potential to give the genre something truly special. But so many of his celluloid dreams remain undeveloped (and, frighteningly, seem no closer to fruition even now - what has VanBebber been doing lately!?!). Hopefully, if VanBebber realises just how many people are in favour of his nihilistic visions, he'll finally release CHARLIE'S FAMILY, and get on with his feature-length versions of ROADKILL and the remake of TOOLBOX MURDERS (I kid you not) ...!

Review by Stuart Willis

Directed by Jim Van Bebber
Released by Exploited
Running Time - Approx 80 mins (inc extras)
Extras :
Audio Commentary, Jim VanBebber interview, Charlie's Family Trailer & On-set footage, early 8mm shorts, music video, filmography, photo gallery