Sunday, 25 May 2008

Watch this film

The Sorcerers is my new favourite film. It’s gothic horror set in swinging London -
a violent sci fi/horror about an old scientist (Boris Karloff) who invents a device that links his will with that of a young hipster (Ian Ogilvy) But as he and his wife (Katherine Lacey) control this actions, and experience what he experiences, they become addicted to the vicarious thrills. It easily transcends it’s exploitative (and to be honest, slightly daft) premise with sheer technical verve and the brilliant way it comments on the voyeuristic nature of cinema.

Director Michael Reeves only ever made one other movie - the equally stunning Witchfinder General - before his early death at the age of just 25. The documentary on the DVD makes mentions him in the same breath as Spielberg and Hitchcock, and they’re valid comparisons. Like both, Reeves was technically brilliant and a great manipulator. Like Hitch he had an ability to comment on human nature, and the nature of cinema, within the constraints of genre.

The comparison with Spielberg only serves to empathise what a tragedy his early death. At a similar stage of his career, Spielberg had made Duel and Sugarland Express - 2 really good little films, but just a taster of what was to come.


Anonymous said...

Sounds a lot like the more recent "Being John Malkovich".

Chris Regan said...

Sorcerors is a brilliant film - it's a real shame about Michael Reeves as we could have done with another big name talent, especially one that looked likely to continue making genre films in England.

Jon Peacey said...

The Sorcerors is a cracking little film. But did you ever catch Reeves' first film The She Beast starring (sort of) the inimitable and gorgeous Barabara Steele. The Prodco had a couple of days of contract with her after a film finished shooting and, a bit like Corman's The Terror, they sort of shoe-horned her into the already extant project. It is genuinely terrible! I think it's an extra on one of the Reeves DVDs- but I know not which.

While I love Witchfinder General and think Reeves' death was a big loss I do sometimes wonder about the claims that he would have been a truly great film-maker- his next film was meant to be The Oblong Box (again for AIP) and while the final film is enjoyable I can't help thinking that with a career that starts with four back to back AIP style horrors leaves me wondering where/ how he'd have progressed: Ridley Scott's first three were Duellists, Alien and Blade Runner; Spielberg's first three, Duel, Sugarland Express and Jaws. But it could be noted that both served long apprenticeships in adverts and TV which Reeves didn't. Would Reeves have escaped the horror genre ghetto I wonder?

Of course, Terence Malick's first three films were Badlands, Days Of Heaven and The Thin Red Line...

...and don't you think The Sorcerors seems a precursor to Strange Days?