Robin Pierce OnLine
Addressing the Geek Nation......
Shocktober 2021 13. The Witch (2015)
Shocktober 2021 12. The Frighteners (1996)
Shocktober 2021 11. The Others (2001)
Shocktober 2021 10 The Horror at 37,000 feet
Shocktober 2021 9. Van Helsing (2004)
Shocktober 2021 8. Kiss of the Vampire (1963)
Shocktober 2021 7 The Frozen Dead (1966)
Shocktober 2021 6. Mr. Sardonicus (1961)
Shocktober 2021 5. Race With the Devil (1975)
Shocktober 2021 4. The Return of the Vampire (1943)
Shocktober 2021 2. Gargoyles (1972)
Shocktober 2021 1. The Man Who Laughs (1928)
Shocktober 2021 3. The Sorcerers (1967)

“From now on, we are going to control your mind.” – Professor Marcus Monserrat

The Sorcerers (1967) [31 Days of British Horror Review] – BIG COMIC PAGE

The Sorcerers was, as I recall, my second Boris Karloff film. I think I had seen Son of Frankenstein some time before this one popped up on a late-night Monday evening horror season that ITV used to show every now and again. I had definitely seen it before getting the magnificent Pictorial History of the Horror Movie by Denis Gifford at age 14, which became like a bible to me. A colour plate of the closing scene from The Sorcerers was one of the very few photos I recognised as having seen the film.

In a way, the plot is like an extended Twilight Zone episode – not that I’d heard of the Twilight Zone back when I was 13, of course. What I remembered mostly was the twist ending. Oddly, whereas some films like The Skull would pop up pretty regularly on ITV’s seasons, I didn’t see this one again until I tracked it down on DVD a couple of years ago – and it’s still good!

Filmed on location in the then present-day London of 1967, it’s unusual to see Boris Karloff in a setting that isn’t gothic or American but an ordinary street, arguing with the proprietor of a corner shop. (It’s just as odd as seeing Christopher Lee’s Dracula in the swinging London of 1972). Karloff looks old and frail in this film, and sadly would pass away a couple of years later. But he’s perfect in the role of Professor Marcus Monserrat.  Marcus is a hypnotist. But not a fake stage hypnotist, a medical practitioner – but he’s been disgraced for some reason, thirty years earlier. Now, he’s down at heel living in a small squalid flat, with his wife and former assistant Estelle (Catherine Lacey). But his experiments have continued, as he has eked out a living curing people of their stammers, nervous twitches etc via hypnosis.

In their flat, Marcus has a laboratory containing equipment which will enhance and magnify his hypnotic hold on a person. All they need is a guinea pig.

Enter Mike Roscoe (Ian Ogilvy) a young man about town who hangs out in a disco night spot and has a loose kind of relationship with his French girlfriend Nicole (Elizabeth Ercy). Bored on a date, he leaves his girlfriend with his friend and wanders into a Wimpey’s (pre- McD’s for all you youngsters) where he meets Marcus, who persuades Mike to participate in an experiment.

Obviously, Mike knows no better than to follow a strange man to a flat, where he’s introduced to the stranger’s wife, then strapped to a chair. Once he’s undergone the hypnotic treatment, we learn exactly what this is all about. Mike is told to forget everything that’s happened – and being hypnotised, he does so. Now, both Marcus and Estelle have a hold on him. They can control him remotely, and they feel what he feels. If he goes swimming, they feel his exhilaration, but on the downside, if he cuts his hand for example – they will suffer the same injury. As soon as they relinquish their hold on him, Mike can’t remember a thing that happened under their influence.

The overall plan is to publish a scientific paper that will get Marcus recognised and reinstated among his peers, and use this method to give new, vicarious life to the frail and elderly. They can feel young and vibrant again from the safety of their own homes. Marcus, being a kindly, sympathetic sort of man, sees tis as a great benefit to senior citizens. But Estelle soon has other ideas.

Before they go public – she wants something in return for the thirty disgraced years they’ve lived in poverty. For one thing, she wants a fur coat. (They were all the rage back then, if you were rich) And she persuades Marcus to take control of Mike to steal one for her. Marcus reluctantly agrees and she gets her fur coat. But this is just the beginning.

Estelle loved the thrill and the adrenaline rush of almost being caught by a policeman, and now she wants more, as she realises that the power of her will in controlling Mike might be greater than that of Marcus. She destroys the equipment to prevent Marcus from reversing the procedure, and soon has Mike borrowing a motorcycle to ride at breakneck speeds before indulging her darker whims to feel what it’s like to be beating his friend almost to death and murdering two girls. Intoxicated with her new sensations, she fails to realise that Marcus, now seemingly helpless, is regaining his will and breaks Estelle’s hold of Mike during car chase with the police. Marcus causes Mike to crash, the car catches fire and explodes.

The final scene is of Estelle and Marcus, dead in the kitchen – their skin charred from the fire that killed them vicariously. 

Copyright © 2010 - 2021 Robin Pierce. All Rights reserved.

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