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SORCERERS (1967)

 Unrated   DVD

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Product Description

Boris Karloff is at his mesmerizing best in this hypnotic chiller costarring Catherine Lacey (The Lady Vanishes) and directed by Michael Reeves (Witchfinder General). A disgraced hypnotist Professor Marcus Monserret (Karloff) is about to have the last laugh. Inventing a machine that can control the minds of others he lures Mike Roscoe (Ian Ogilvy) to his dingy flat to take part in a grand experiment. Discovering he can experience Mike's sensations as well as his actions Monserret envisions his device as a boon to science. His maniacal wife (Lacey) however embittered by years of poverty soon overpowers her husband and proceeds to use Mike for her own selfish gain. The rarest of the three films directed by the gifted Reeves before his untimely passing The Sorcerers is a unique work of genius that "rivals the brilliance and intelligence of Peeping Tom" (The Overlook Film Encyclopedia).

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Amazon.com: 3.6 out of 5 stars  11 reviews
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Karloff's Final Mind Swap March 16 2013
By William Amazzini - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
Towards his final years, Horror icon Boris Karloff always said to interviewers that he would never stop acting and would die in harness which ,unfortunately, would be the case. Before that would happen, he did have the fortune of acting with two young film makers who would utilize him in the best of his final roles, Director Peter Bogdanovich's 'TARGETS'-1968 and Director Michael Reeve's 'THE SORCERERS'-1967. The 23 year old Reeves was cutting his teeth in film production and his persistence and love of film would have him complete the foreign 'CASTLE OF THE LIVING DEAD'- 1964 and proceed to his first feature 'THE SHE BEAST'-1965 with actress Barbara Steele. Producer Tony Tenser at Tigon Films was always looking for independent film makers looking for backing. American Producer Patrick Curtis who was married to Raquel Welch at that time had two scripts which he wanted Reeves to direct. Putting those scripts on hold , Curtis and Reeves came up with the basic plot of 'THE SORCERERS' co authored with Tom Baker and through an acquaintance, it came across Tenser's desk. Karloff was no slouch to this type of script having mind swapped decades back in Britain with Director Robert Stevenson's excellent 'THE MAN WHO CHANGED HIS MIND'-1936. Reeves had Karloff in mind for this film and they got along wonderfully . The film emerges as a chilling prospect of the older generation wishing for eternal youth which theme would eventually peak in Director Bernard McEveety's chilling masterpiece 'THE BROTHERHOOD OF SATAN'- 1970. It also stars Catherine Lacey in a scene stealing performance and Reeves's friend Ian Ogilvy who would appear in all three of Reeves films. You will also glimpse a 17 year old Susan George in her first feature appearance as a doomed girl friend of Ogilvy's. Appearing as a sixties time capsule with its rock music and psychedelic lighting, the film shows Director Reeves honing his craft which would come to fruition in his masterpiece 'WITCHFINDER GENERAL' aka 'THE CONQUEROR WORM'- 1968 and who got Horror icon Vincent Price to emote one of his greatest performances. With brilliant editing by David Woodward and superb photography by John Mantell, Reeves orchestrates his mind swap plot with a snap-crackle-pop pace making it more tragic that Reeves's life was cut off too soon due to a drug overdose just before he was to direct 'THE OBLONG BOX'. The film has been rarely seen having been released on VHS by Allied Artists back in the eighties in a horrible transfer and badly cut (surprisingly , there is no nudity in the film and has some minor gore scenes). Warner Archive has released it in its first DVD transfer in the United States in its proper 1.85 ratio but no negative clean up which makes the film look more cutting edge than ever. Unfortunately, their are no extras, it would have been nice to see a feature on Director Reeves or even an original trailer but it's not to be. Warner, however, deserves kudos for giving Karloff fans a glimpse of one of his final performances even through the pain he must have been feeling in his scenes (you can see him wincing as he sits in a chair or walks across a room). He was a real trooper and a brilliant artist who along with Director Michael Reeves created a unique be-careful-what-you- wish-for thriller.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Fascinating Film On Many Different Levels. Oct. 13 2012
By Chip Kaufmann - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
I first saw this movie at a drive-in back in 1971 along with several other features which I don't recall. Having been a Boris Karloff fan since the age of 8, I had to see it and I remember being struck at the time by how old he looked (he was 79 then and had been dead for 2 years by the time I saw it) and by how cool it would be if you really could experience other people's sensations (the principal plot device of this film). It was only much later that I realized that THE SORCERERS was made by Michael Reeves the same man responsible for WITCHFINDER GENERAL.

Just how familiar Reeves was with Karloff's "Mad Doctor" films, I don't know (there are definite echoes of 1936's THE MAN WHO CHANGED HIS MIND), but THE SORCERERS is certainly an interesting and appropriate update on that theme. An elderly hypnotist and his wife (the "sorcerers" of the title) develop a system of advanced hypnosis that enable them to not only control a young man (Ian Ogilvy) but to feel what he feels. Things ultimately veer out of control as the embittered wife wants to experience more and more sensations including murder (a young Susan George is the victim) which leads to tragedy for everyone concerned.

The Swinging 60s setting (the film was made in 1967) is dated to be sure but fascinating nonetheless. Karloff is his usual fine self even at the age of 79 and crippled by arthritis but it is Catherine Lacey as his wife who gives a truly remarkable performance. She reportedly hated her role just as Vincent Price hated his in WITCHFINDER GENERAL yet Reeves proved himself right in the end as both performances are among their best. A truly fine example of what can be done on a meager budget with a multi-layered screenplay and a good role for Boris at the end of his career. This is the American Allied Artists release. Thanks to Warner Archive for finally making it available on Region One for the American market.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Stylish Grit Nov. 8 2013
By THE BLUEMAHLER - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD
Michael Reeves’ The Sorcerers (1967), starring Boris Karloff, became a barely noticeable cult film in a cinematically innovative era. A few prominent, hip critics took note of Reeves, and, in some quarters, predictions were made that he could become a horror director of the caliber of James Whale, Tod Browning, Jacques Tourneur, or Terence Fisher.

Reeves’ had only made one previous film, the low budget The She Beast (1966) starring horror icon Barbara Steele, but it was imitative of Mario Bava‘s work and received scant notice. In contrast, The Sorcerers was stylish, quirky, and unique, although it was also low budget and barely made a profit. Still, it resulted in Reeves’ being given a larger bankroll to work with in his third film: the critical and box office hit Witchfinder General (1968) starring Vincent Price.

Reeves’ death of a drug overdose at twenty-five, shortly before the release of Witchfinder General, affected that film’s reputation. Reeves was hailed as a tragic auteur in the James Dean mold. Since then, Witchfinder General has long been lauded as one of Price’s finest films. Its was considerably helped by the actor/star himself, who listed it as one of his two personal favorites, along with Theater of Blood (1973). Having a historical subject, Witchfinder General defies its period, is highly esteemed, frequently revived, and has been readily available throughout the video age.

In light of Witchfunder General’ s reputation, The Sorcerers was considered a lesser, obscure effort, partly because it seemed more dated and did not have a vital star to promote it (Karloff died a mere week before Reeves). Nor did the actor’s fans promote it. Instead, of Karloff’s late films, they waxed sentimental about Peter Bogdanovich’s Targets (1968), feeling that film was a truer coda for the “King of Horror.” It was only this year that The Sorcerers was finally made available on DVD as part of the Warner Archive collection.

The aged and poverty stricken Professor Marcus Monserrat (Karloff) is a long publicly disgraced hypnotist who invents a machine (cue sci-fi mumbo jumbo) which allows him and his wife Estelle (the delightfully vile Catherine Lacey) to project their consciousness into the minds of others. The Monserrats live in a dilapidated London flat during the swinging 60s (cue sex, drugs, and rock n’ roll), and Estelle is corrupted from bitterness due to her husband’s fall from grace. The couple find a willing guinea pig for their gizmo in stud Michael (Ian Ogilvy). Michael, bored with sex, drugs, and rock n’ roll, agrees to be strapped into the Professor’s mind-altering gizmo (cue psychedelia). Although clearly a product of the 60′s, The Sorcerers is imbued with a stylish, compact, contemporary impudence that transcends mere period novelty.

Once the couple psyche into Mike’s experiences, Estelle begins making up for lost years. She quickly becomes addicted to the experience, which causes her to become increasingly imbalanced. After she forces Mike into hedonism, theft, and murder, a battle of wills between Estelle and her husband leads into Being John Malkovich (1999) and Scanners (1981) territory.

The Sorcerers stands out as a respite from Karloff’s humiliating last years. Although seriously ill, the actor gives an admirably subdued performance that rises to a crescendo in the final showdown with his wife. As good as Karloff and Ogilvy are, it is Lacey who steals the film.

The lower budget trappings actually enhance the grittiness of a film that seems to be saying something about the jaded nihilism of the “I, me, mine” culture (well, at least it noticed it).
4.0 out of 5 stars Of course it is DVD-R (burned) but nice silk-screening on the disc & packaging art-work is quite ... Aug. 19 2014
By Christian Hartman - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
Lot's of reviews (mixed) of the content-just want to comment on quality of the Warner Archives release. Of course it is DVD-R (burned) but nice silk-screening on the disc & packaging art-work is quite nice. The print (16x9 enhanced) had no restoration so has some extreme instances of dirt & occasional scratches but not through-out the film (in fact for a film from 1967 it looks pretty darn good). No breaks or jump-cuts & the sound is OK (not home-theater stereo quality but I did not find any obnoxious hissing or out of balance sound effects). Worth the price to complete your Michael Reeves collection (I didn't think I'd EVER get to see this film so I'm happy).
4.0 out of 5 stars creepy swan song Feb. 26 2014
By E. M. Wolf - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
this has quite often been described as Karloff's last great movie. It was quite a creep show, although a bit hampered by the incredibly low budget. Karloff rarely played a truly evil character and he is again the nice guy here. Great bit part by Susan George and some interesting action and fighting scenes made more graphic by the lack of special effects. Director Reeves really hit his peak with Witchfinder General.

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