The Sorcerers (1967) [31 Days of British Horror Review]

Hot on the heels of his “31 Days of Hammer” in January, Jules is at it again in March, treating us to a chronological run through the classic era of British Horror, from the late ’50s to the end of the ’70s, with one review every day for the entire month.

You can check out the rest of our “31 Days of British Horror” by CLICKING HERE.

Starring: Boris Karloff, Catherine Lacey, Ian Ogilvy
Director: Michael Reeves

One of the last films in a career packed with highlights, The Sorcerers was a prime example of just what a talent the great Boris Karloff really was.

Even when he’s not playing the villain of the piece, there’s just a gravitas to those gnarled features and hypnotic screen presence that’s rarely been topped. This time though, that face is perfect for a more hangdog persona, a gentle soul who is only one of the victims of one of the most despicable and disturbing villains of the decade…his wife.

Dr Marcus Montserrat (Karloff) is a elderly medical hypnotist who lives with his wife Estelle Monserrat (Catherine Lacey). He invents a device that allows the user to control another person while feeling their experiences through the power of hypnosis. He selects hip young man about town Mike Roscoe (Ian Ogilvy) to test it out on and is delighted by its success.

They decide to allow him to leave and test the device again, only this time over longer distances. Marcus wants to publish his findings but Estelle is instantly seduced by her new power over Mike and increasingly controls his mind. Initially it’s just to experience a young person’s life, but it soon becomes clear that Estelle is out of control and has murder in mind…

Of all the great villains that British Horror produced in the 1960s, Estelle Monserrat is definitely one of the greatest. Sure, she’s an old woman who barely leaves her house, but for sheer flat-out evil, malevolence and gleeful cruelty, she’s hard to top. Catherine Lacey is absolutely magnificent here, radiating all those horrible emotions with relish and more than holds her own with a towering presence like Karloff.

Naturally, he’s absolutely magnificent here, a good man with good intentions, he’s betrayed by his own wife, held prisoner and forced to experience the evil acts that Mike is forced into committing. It’s heartbreaking stuff and Karloff totally sells it, conveying real pain both at what his wife is doing and the guilt that his device is responsible for it all.

Ian Ogilvy is perfectly cast as the young hipster, making his fall from grace all the more upsetting, but utterly believable at the same time.

The Sorcerers is a very small story really, one that could have easily fit in an Amicus portmanteau, but in this full length feature it expands to fill the gaps with steady character progression and great performances across the board. A classic? Probably. Very near if not.

Rating: 4.5/5.

JULESAV The Writer of this piece was: Jules Boyle
Jules tweets from @Captain_Howdy

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