1973 Version –
Original Air Date: September 19th, 1973
2000 Version –
Original Air Date: March 13th, 2000
There was a reason that ABC was once nicknamed the Aaron Broadcasting Channel! His resume of popular television outweighs almost any other filmmaker from that time period until today. I'm still not exactly sure what spurred the remake of Satan's School for Girls, except that perhaps Spelling had hoped to rekindle the once popular TV horror movie of the 70s and 80s. And why of all of his films he chose Satan 73 is anyone's guess. I mean, the man did produce the superior Home for the Holidays! Satan 73 is a fun but weakly paced film that will be mostly of interest to Charlie's Angels fans who would like to see the pairing of Kate Jackson and Cheryl Ladd pre-Jiggle TV. Well, it's also of interest to those of us who adore Roy Thinnes, a stalwart in these small screen terror flicks (Horror at 37,000 Feet, anyone?). Also, Satan 2000 gave Spelling and company a good shot at updating a supernatural film that originally had to forgo effects for expense's sake. If that’s so, the 2000 version is replete with bad CGI to make up for it!
But was it worth it?
Surprisingly, although these films are extremely different - only sharing various character names and the most base of concepts - both are full of enough moxey to warrant a lazy Sunday viewing.
The original came along in the early 70s and therefore relies heavily on traditional suspense devices (stormy nights, creepy corridors, etc...) to push the plot ahead. The adorable Pamela Franklin is the daring Elizabeth Sayers, a woman who has checked into her sister's all girl college after sis hangs herself. Determined to discover the truth behind Salem Academy, Elizabeth may have gotten more than she bargained for when the horrible truth is finally revealed.
Although not one of the better made for television films, it is well remembered and does have some interesting and creepy qualities. Bochner’s performance as the on-the-edge-of-a-breakdown science teacher is so over the top you swear he’ flying! There’s not much of a surprise at the end reveal, but there’s enough atmosphere to keep you hanging on…
I do love Shannen Doherty so, and she really holds her own here and comes across as warm and charismatic, especially with her love interest (another new twist), Mark (Daniel Cosgrove - also of 90210 but after Shannen left). Kate Jackson returns, this time as The Dean. She's not given much to work with but she does have some good screen time. I'm not sure there was ever an actress more natural than Kate. Or Miss Jackson if you're nasty.
If you had to pick one (I know, why is life so hard!), I'd go with the Satan 73 because the pairing of Ladd and Jackson remains oh-so-sweet. The original is available on DVD and the remake airs sometimes on ABC Family (!), so what's your excuse?!?