The Sorcerers (1967)

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Released 5-Sep-2005

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Horror Main Menu Audio
Featurette-Blood Beast Documentary
Gallery-Posters And Stills
Theatrical Trailer
Trailer-The Haunted Strangler, Corridors Of Blood
Trailer-The Abominable Snowman
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 1967
Running Time 81:50
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 1,2,3,4,5,6 Directed By Michael Reeves
Studio
Distributor

Umbrella Entertainment
Starring Boris Karloff
Catherine Lacey
Ian Ogilvy
Elizabeth Ercy
Victor Henry
Susan George
Sally Sheridan
Ivor Dean
Case ?
RPI Box Music Paul Ferris


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 2.0 (448Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.70:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio Unknown Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    “Dazzling indescribable experiences - complete abandonment with no thought of remorse. Intoxication with no hang-over - ecstasy with no consequence.”

    Disgraced hypnotist/inventor Professor Marcus Monserrat (Boris Karloff) creates a device that allows him and his elderly wife, Estelle (Catherine Lacey) to control and experience the thoughts and sensations of others. Finding a young thrill-seeking groover, Mike Roscoe (Ian Ogilvy) to use in their experiment, the increasingly unbalanced Estelle becomes infatuated by Roscoe and his lifestyle and begins to incite him into acts of violence.

    The Sorcerers was the late Michael Reeves’ second feature after the comically deranged She-Beast (1966). Frustrated by censorship problems enshrouding his most famous film, The Witchfinder General (1968) and plagued by self-doubt, Reeves sunk into a drug and alcohol aggravated depression. He died at age 25 from an accidental (some believe deliberate) barbiturate overdose on 11 February, 1969. His dark frame of mind was further exacerbated by the residual effects of his privileged, yet rebellious upbringing and almost pathological need for artistic freedom.

    Touted by fans and many in the film industry as a filmmaking wunderkind, the tortured artist left a legacy of only three low-budget, but highly impressive features. Each of them bled with social metaphor and personal insights into his own psychological problems.

    In The Sorcerers, Reeves teases the audience with the voyeuristic nature of cinema itself. The old middle-class married couple are in essence like the viewer - for a brief moment in time they live out their fantasies through someone else acting on their behalf. Perhaps mirroring his own internal struggles, he also highlights stereotypical notions of the young being fatalistically led by their sexual and violent impulses. And like David Lynch, Reeves demonstrates how easily good people can turn bad. He pulls these concepts together with masterful precision by drawing powerful and resonant performances from all the key actors.

    As an aside, actor Victor Henry (Ian Ogilvy’s best buddy, Alan) was hit by a bus shortly after the film was finished. He lay in a coma for 17 years and died in 1985 when he was taken off life support.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    The 1.70:1, 16x9 enhanced transfer shows its age and appears to be taken from a slightly beaten 35mm print.

    The rendering is quite noisy, with a thin to medium layer of grain evident throughout. Although reasonably sharp, shadow detail clarity can at times be obscured by the darkness of the print, making images appear murky and ill-defined (12:40, 12:51, 39:30, 43:29 for example). Regardless, black levels are deep and show only minor signs of low level noise. Contrast tends to fluctuate with some scenes looking too bright and others too dark.

    Colours are reasonably vibrant, especially on the groovy 60s fashion, but can look a bit faded at times. The use of pink and blue gel lighting during the psychedelic sequence at 15:12 is handled reasonably well by the transfer.

    A lot of film artefacts such as speckling, fine hair lines and blemishes appear throughout. This is more evident during the reel changes. But rather than being a distraction it actually enhances the visual experience by reminding the viewer they are indeed watching an old obscure film from the 50s.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    The Sorcerers is granted a decent Dolby Digital 2.0 mono mix.

    The eerie oboe score by Paul Ferris is a constant presence and is reminiscent of the otherworldly score used in Blood on Satan’s Claw.

    Ferris also delights in using those funky musical pieces found in British spy thrillers from the 50s to connote intrigue to worthwhile effect.

    The score is also filled with the rich sounds of old-fashioned instruments such as the harpsichord, piano, violin and trumpet which are an aural feast and appropriately enhance the grammar of particular scenes – a sombre mood invoked by the ticking of a clock is suddenly broken by the wildly high-pitched feedback and throbbing effects of a psychedelic sequence. In another instance a sense of age and youth is achieved by forcing the groovy strains of a 60s pop song to juxtapose with the classical music played over scenes with the elderly couple. Quaintly dated, but effective nevertheless.

    The spoken word is clearly audible with no hiss or distortion.

    Being a mono mix the surrounds and subwoofer are silent.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

Blood Beast documentary (un-countered approx. 23 minutes)

    This well-produced and fascinating mini-doco is centred on the late Michael Reeves. A still very good-looking Ian Ogilvy and a number of key film professionals reminisce about Reeves, his films and eventual slide into depression.

    Although more of Reeves’ personal life could have been explored, it is still a solidly recorded time capsule of his brief career. It also contains some terrific footage of The She Beast with the exotically creepy Barbara Steele. I hope some enterprising company restores this film and releases it soon.

Image gallery

    A series of 28 badly scanned posters, publicity, and behind-the-scenes stills.

Theatrical trailer (uncountered approx 2-minutes)

    Intoxication with no hang-over, ecstasy with no consequence…

Horror trailers for The Haunted Strangler, Corridors of Blood and The Abominable Snowman

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    The Sorcerers is only available in Region 2 (UK) on a single disc edition through Prism Leisure Corp. The transfer, sound and extras appear to be identical to our own.

    Our Region 4 is excellent value as it comes with two other essential Karloff films: The Haunted Strangler and Corridors of Blood in a nicely presented Superstars of Horror: Volume 2 box set.

Summary

    The relatively obscure Sorcerers is a highly intelligent, thought-provoking gem that straddles the grey area between the horror and sci-fi genres. The film is part shocker and speculative satire, but mostly a bleak depiction of lost youth and bitterness.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Robert Winter (read my dead sexy bio)
Friday, April 07, 2006
Review Equipment
DVDYamaha DVR-S200 (it came free with the plasma), using S-Video output
DisplayYamaha 106cm Plasma. Calibrated with Sound & Home Theater Tune Up. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt into amplifier. Calibrated with THX Optimizer.
Amplificationget a marshall stack, and crank it up.
Speakers2 x Bose Speakers and 4 NX-S200 Yamaha mini-speakers.

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