“It’s like half the time I don’t know why I’m doing things.”
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 a young man (Ian Ogilvy) 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, Themes, Actors, and Directors:
- Boris Karloff Films
- Elderly People
- Mad Doctors and Scientists
- Michael Reeves Films
- Mind Control and Hypnosis
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 drug overdose at the age of 25), The Sorcerers stands on its own as an intriguing black comedy with an unusual premise; indeed, as Peary writes, it’s Reeves’ “oddest film and… just as bleak and fascinating as his other works.”
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 this story of “an elderly couple’s obsession for youth and excitement” and was reminded of Homebodies (1972) — another sleeper film about elderly folks who discover their darker nature when push comes to shove. As Peary writes, the “low budget hurts” but this “film has excitement, strong black humor, and strong and interesting directorial touches”; it “should be seen” — but not by “those out for a happy time”.
Redeeming Qualities and Moments:
- Catherine Lacey as the increasingly “diabolical and greedy” Estelle
- Boris Karloff playing against type as a man who must stop his wife “before she goes too far”
- Elizabeth Ercy and Victor Henry as Ogilvy’s confused and worried friends
- Strong direction and editing
Yes, as one of Michael Reeves’ tragically few films.
One thought on “Sorcerers, The (1967)”
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.]