This Saturday, Nov. 15, at 10pm, the Tampa Theatre, Fandomonioumintampabay.com, and Fangoria Magazine are presenting a screening of the little-known, no-budget horror movie Satan’s Children. Satan’s Children was shot in Tampa Bay way back in 1974, by a crew of local TV veterans and a cast pulled mostly from the USF theatre department.
“We had auditions upstairs in the faculty offices,” recalls Rosemary Orlando, a then-student who wound up cast as “Monica.” Though she would eventually find herself hanging from her thumbs in her underwear, Orlando doesn't recall the Satan’s Children auditions causing much of a stir: “At that time, the film department at USF was much more vibrant, and there were a lot of student films, there were a lot of low budget films” being cast there on a regular basis.
When shooting began, Orlando and the rest of the cast and crew trucked out to Gibsonton. The small town, just a few miles southeast of Tampa, still retains its mystique as home base of America’s show folk (aka carnies). Mostly, though, the location was isolated. “It was in the middle of nowhere, and they had to have Steve White (“Bobby Douglas”) running through palmetto bushes in his underwear. Where else are you gonna do it?”
Despite the film’s dark themes and the shoot's strange setting, Orlando says filming was fun and easy. “It was just a nice group of people, and it was done very professionally ... They had something comparable to craft services, [and] Joe was just so nice.”
But it was definitely moviemaking on a budget. “Everything was one take. I learned later that it was that way because they were using all the leftover film from Channel 13 – I don’t know if that could be a rumor or not, but everything was one take.” Asked whether that put a lot of pressure on her as an actress, Orlando just laughed.
“You didn’t even know, you just thought you did it perfectly the first time.”
Though the film didn’t get a full-scale national release, Orlando says the final product did quickly show up on drive-in screens as a double feature across Tampa. “I had friends tell me, ‘Oh my god, we just saw Satan’s Children!’”
Despite not having a wide release, the film had an impact on Orlando’s career, and the shape of Tampa theatre to come. “I made a lot of very good friends ... John Edwards [“Joshua” in the film] and I later worked together with The Alice People,” a Tampa theatre company known for their edgy and heady productions. From there, Orlando went on to have a well-respected run on Tampa's stages, and continues to act today.
When asked whether she’s had any second thoughts about her bloody, exploitative debut, Orlando is having none of it. “No regrets. I think it was very sweet, and I was so young. I only have nice feelings about it.”
Orlando will be joining several other members of the cast and crew for Saturday's screening, and a Q&A sure to be full of warm, blood-spattered memories.