Friday, January 4, 2013

The Sorcerers

The Sorcerers. Directed By Michael Reeves. Starring Boris Karloff (1967)
        A tough Mod freakbeat garage band plays during the credits (kinda like a Brit version of Charlie from the opening of The Blast Off Girls). Their music echoes through the club as Mike Roscoe (Ian Oglivy) watches the girls sway to the beat, he's bored black and blue by the dull mod scene. The table is loaded up with coke glasses and in the background, as some mods pass joints. 
        Boris Karloff is a Practitioner of Medical Hypnosis (or a mad scientist) who advertises in a creepy tobacconist shoppe in creaky old London. You can hear the loud whirring of the camera, during some scenes. Boris bumps into Mike (Olgily) in a hamburger joint trying to peddle a "weird experience", (wink, wink say no more!) he is intrigued enough to go to his apartment. He's so bored with the mod scene that he'll hang out with a dreary old elderly couple, doesn't really happen, but OK.
       Once he's there, an odd assortment of stereo equipment rigged up like a death chamber is hooked up to his skull. They project psychedelic lights and patterns over his face (almost like the ones used later in Combat Shock and experimental films). The camera zooms in and out, while excruciatingly squeaky tones emit from the soundtrack. Karloff and his wife (Catherine Lacey) can now control him like a robot and the whole thing starts off painfully goofy and laughable, a total send up. It's pretty surprising how ugly it gets in the last half! 
      The underlying premise is about the generation gap as the old want to experience the swinging hipster scene through a youngster robot. This type of light hearted goofiness doesn't seem to reflect the darkness of WitchFinder General or Reeves dangerous depression and at first it gets very kitschy. 
Karloff is incapable of performing badly in anything, he's so accomplished but the silliness of this film gives me the impression that Reeves just wanted to write anything around Karloff just to have him act in his production. Scenes of Karloff and his wife sitting around a table and pretending to control the robot are painfully ridiculous, I mean its watchable, but pretty dumb. The most entertaining parts are with Mod band Lee Grant & the Capitols and like most Beach Party movies, the band is the best part and the rest of the film is campy fluff.  I'm glad I stuck it out because it gets pretty nasty.
This one has that beach party thin plot, but instead takes place in dreary old London. Towards the end it gets pretty grim as the wife commands him to beat a mechanic with a pipe. A very young Susan George shows up toward the end as Mike's coffee date, she would later go onto great roles like Venom (where she gets a snakebite to the face) and Enter The Ninja. The violence comes out of nowhere and really helps the film out as the wife causes Mike to start killing random girls! One of the victims sings with the band! The film slowly develops into a creepy thriller, but fools you in the beginning, just stick around for the last half it gets really strange!     
       I doubt if anyone following Reeves would expect him to release such a ghastly kick in the teeth the next year as Witchfinder! This one is worth seeing just to watch it evolve from goofy 60's counter culture hammyness to a bizarre thriller, worth watching just for that. 

Burn in Hell

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