Michael Reeves' The Sorcerers opens with Boris Karloff tutting
at a canoodling young couple as they walk past him in the street - his
character Professor Marcus Monserrat is a miserable old sod and no mistake
- disillusioned with the world and uncomprehending of the "free love"
and changing ideals that were rife at the time (apparently).
In the shop, Monserrat berates the keeper for removing his card from the
window (the fact that he hasn't paid to keep it there seems of secondary
importance to the belligerent old geezer)
"Ah, so you're the famous Professor Monserrat
says the equally miserable shopkeeper. "It didn't seem to interest
the public like some of the others
Monserrat is a "Practitioner of medical hypnosis", but the other
cards promise stress relief of a more immediate nature.
Monserrat returns home to his dirty flat (think Rising Damp, but
with less class) and his even more raddled wife, Estelle, where they talk
about testing "it" tomorrow.
Whatever "it" is will have to wait, because we then get the
credits, with some quality late 60s music playing over them (courtesy
of Lee Grant And The Capitols, whoever they were).
We're also introduced to Mike (Ian Ogilvy), who comes across as a bit
of a shit from the moment he swaggers into shot, with his turtle neck
sweater and brown corduroy drainpipes. Mike's world revolves around bars
and clubs, his best friend Alan (curly ginger hair, bad dress sense -
in other words, obvious cannon fodder) and gorgeous girlfriend Nicole
being left to trail in his wake.
The Monserrats need someone willing to try "new experiences"
to test "it". "No-one will laugh this time," spits
Estelle. "Nothing to laugh at," replies her husband. "Nothing
" (he's not wrong). Luckily, the Professor runs straight
into Mike, who's just left Alan and Nicole in a swinging club ("Bloody
artistic temperament," Alan comments - obviously secretly pleased
that he's ended up with Nicole by default).
"You are looking very bored, young man," says Boris, and Mike
must be, because following a strange old man back to his house is preferable
to whatever he was doing before
Back chez Monserrat, Mike is promised "Intoxication with no hangover,
ecstasy with no conscience," but actually gets a pink light shined
in his face, some maniac going nuts with a zoom lens and one of those
hot oil projector things that every home had in the 60s.
Come the end of this lengthy effects "extravaganza", the Monserrats
have established some kind of psychic link with the young man, which gives
them power of him from a distance, and an extra surprise the Professor
didn't expect: "My God, Estelle! We're feeling all his sensations!"
None the wiser, Mike goes for a swim with Nicole and the two pensioners
lap it up.
"This must be used to help people," burbles the Prof. "Old
people like us, who don't have what we have!"
Unfortunately, Estelle has other plans - and wants to have a little fun
before going public with their amazing invention. Within minutes she's
got the poor lad stealing, driving cars too fast and eventually getting
into an extremely messy punch-up with his former best mate.
"I didn't realise.. it would be like THIS!" she screams with
pleasure during Mike's burglary spree, adding later: "We all want
to do things deep inside ourselves. Things we can't allow ourselves to
do. But now we have the means
without the fear of the consequences!"
Too late, Marcus realises that his dear old wife is a murderous fruitcake
and Mike's future becomes a battle of wills between his elderly tormentors.
The film ends with a couple of brutal murders (including a shockingly
young Susan George), a big fight and an excellent car chase.
If ever a film seemed to be fed up with the groovy 60s, The Sorcerers
is it (see also Corruption and Reeves'
classic Witchfinder General). The main
protagonists are either hopelessly out-of-step pensioners or cold-hearted
"youngsters" who pursue their selfish ends with little thought
for anyone else.
The one half-decent person throughout the whole proceedings (Alan) gets
beaten up by his best friend and cruelly used by his best friend's girl.
But despite being a brutal and bleak film, it remains strangely compelling
and very watchable.