Sorcerers, The (1967)

“It must be a stranger… Someone who doesn’t know us. A complete stranger, who need never know what happened to him.”

The Sorcerers

Synopsis:
After years spent perfecting their mind-control machine, elderly hypnotists Marcus and Estelle (Boris Karloff and Catherine Lacey) are able to control the thoughts and actions of Michael (Ian Ogilvy), a young man Marcus meets on the street. Things quickly turn sour, however, as Estelle reveals her desire to commit increasingly heinous crimes through their unconscious subject.

Genres:

Response to Peary’s Review:
Known primarily as the second of three films helmed solely by prodigy director Michael Reeves (who died of an accidental overdose at the age of 25), The Sorcerers stands on its own as an intriguing black comedy with an unusual premise. While parts of the script are heavy-handed — for instance, Marcus and Estelle “remind” each other of their history with mind control while talking out loud, surely unnecessary for a couple living and working together for decades — I nonetheless got completely caught up in the story. I was reminded of Homebodies (1972), another sleeper film about elderly folks who discover their darker nature when push comes to shove.

Redeeming Qualities and Moments:

  • Catherine Lacey as the increasingly diabolical Estelle
    Catherine Lacey
  • Boris Karloff playing against type in one of his final films
    Boris Karloff
  • Elizabeth Ercy and Victor Henry as Michael’s confused and worried friends
    Michael's Friends

Must See?
Yes, as one of Michael Reeves’ tragically few films.

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One Response to “Sorcerers, The (1967)”

  1. First viewing. A must-see. And another that’s inexplicably difficult to find, esp. considering that director Reeves’ final film – ‘The Witchfinder General’ (aka ‘The Conqueror Worm’) – pops up on tv occasionally (even if it, too, as far as I know is not currently on DVD in the US). It’s simply remarkable to think that this film is the work of a 23-year-old; it seems the product of a much more seasoned director. But then, Reeves was particularly fond of director Don Siegel’s work and he certainly absorbed a lot from Siegel’s sharp, dime-store-novel way of storytelling (particularly his editing). What I find most compelling about ‘The Sorcerers’ (which, thankfully, is not even hinted at) is the idea that the hypnotist and his wife (played perfectly by Karloff and Lacey) select as their guinea pig a young man who, on some level, appears to be something of an accident waiting to happen — and what the couple doesn’t anticipate is that the ambiguity in the boy will turn on them. In essence, the real horror unleashed is the subliminal war between good and evil that lies dormant in the boy and, through thought- control, overtakes the couple. I particularly like Reeves’ various forms of a heartbeat sound throughout (as an actual sound, as a clock ticking, as a police siren, and in the music soundtrack). This is pure pulp stuff with a lot on its mind (if you will) — it covers a lot of ground in 87 min., and has a startling ending. [There is as much speculation via the net re: Reeves’ ‘suicide’ as there is about his ‘accidental death’; either way, an intriguing talent gone too soon.]

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