Thursday, October 8, 2015

October Movie Challenge: Simon King of Witches (1971)

There is something about the 70s Occult Revival that keeps me coming back for more.  This movie has been in my queue since the summer so I was really looking forward to it.
It starts kind of slow and you are never really sure at the start if "Simon Sinestrari" is a real witch or just a con man.  But as the movie goes on the magic is played as being very, very real.
I have to admit I was surprised by the performance of Andrew Prine.  Not that I didn't think he was a good actor, but because he played the role of Simon with such earnestness.

The horror elements are few, but many of the occult trappings are good. There is a camp to it that doesn't quite allow the movie to be fully comedy, satire or even supernatural horror.  Though there are some good scenes.  I liked his whole astral-projection bit, more late 60s than 70s. I also liked the part when he is about to make a sacrifice for his big spell and he ponders how he must not be done with violence yet in this life.  A wholly cheesy line but Prine pulls it off with earnestness and even conviction.
Brenda Scott on the other hand was sleep-walking through her role as Linda, the love interest. I found her neither convincing nor interesting.  Heck, Simon had better on screen chemistry with Turk the young male prostitute he befriends.  In fact there was more emotion in the scene where Simon removes Turk's memory of him so he would not get caught up in his magical doings than any scene with Linda.
I ended up liking it more than I anticipated, but not as much as I wanted to like it.

It was a good one to watch along with The Devil Rides Out.  Two differing views of occult ceremonial magic.

Simon of course would make for a great NPC in a modern horror game.  Something about the setting and how he was portrayed makes me think Chill more than say Buffy or World of Darkness.
He is not entirely evil, but he is also not entirely good either.  He would play like a bargain basement Aleister Crowley; a human with some magical power that now thinks he is akin to the gods. This can be threatening or comical depending on how you want to play it.

7 Watched / 5 New

1 comment:

Dr. Theda said...

We remember he dwelled in the drainage system and was flooded out in the film...