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Wednesday, September 6, 2017

The Sorcerers (1967)



The great Boris Karloff spent many of his final years cashing paychecks from less than stellar directors and producers to briefly appear in their movies. When I see his name attached to a movie in the ‘60s I always cringe just a bit. There are some gems like Target from 1968, but most of the time it isn’t great. That is why I avoided The Sorcerers until recently. I eventually watch everything.

Karloff plays a hypnotist named Monserrat. He and his wife are barely scraping by in their old age. Monserrat isn’t a sideshow attraction, but was actually a professor and serious academic. Something went wrong in his past and he was discredited. But he hopes that his latest discovery will put him back in good standing with his colleagues. He has developed a way to control a subject at a distance by using his mind. They find a bored young man named Mike and experiment on him, promising him an experience unlike anything he has had before. Not only are they able to control him, but they also experience what he feels. Everything is going well until Monserrat’s wife, Estelle, gets addicted to the power and wants more. She is able to mentally and physically overpower her husband and send Mike on a crime spree that includes murder!

This isn’t a great movie, but it was better than I expected. Karloff is limited to spending most of his time sitting at a table reacting to things happening off-screen as he is feeling what Mike is. This should have been boring but he does such a wonderful job emoting that even seated in a chair I was fascinated by Karloff’s performance. Now again this isn’t a great movie and the material leaves a lot to be desired. I just wanted to point out that in spite of this Karloff gives it his best and at least tries to make something of it. He succeeds in rising above the material and making the movie somewhat interesting.

Get ready for some action sequences! Not really...
That is about all the positives that I can find with The Sorcerers. The pacing is slow with far too many scenes of characters just talking. All the action takes place towards the end of the movie when Estelle has Mike kill a couple of girls. Before that we get a stolen fur coat and not much else. There are a couple of fights and a car chase that are poorly filmed and choreographed. They should be highlights but end up being boring. Hell, one of the actors in the fight is better known as a stuntman and they still manage to stage a fake looking fight. The movie is also very dated with the club scenes and the groovy music. That doesn’t normally bother me but because of the glacial pace of the proceedings you can’t help but notice it.

Sadly, the Sorcerers is a good example of the kinds of parts that Karloff was getting in his later years. He is normally good but those around him appear to be putting minimal effort in and cashing in on his name to make a quick buck. The same director/writer combination did a similar thing the following year with the Conqueror Worm, this time casting Vincent Price with slightly better results. I suggest passing on this one.



© Copyright 2017 John Shatzer

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