BROTHERHOOD OF SATAN, THE(director: Bernard McEveety; screenwriters: from a story by Sean MacGregor/L.Q. Jones/William Welch; cinematographer: John Arthur Morrill; editor: Marvin Walowitz; music: Jaime Mendoza-Nava; cast: Strother Martin (Doc Duncan), L.Q. Jones (Sheriff), Charles Bateman (Ben Holden), Ahna Capri (Nicky), Charles Robinson (Priest), Alvy Moore (Tobey), Geri Reischl (KT), Helene Winston (Dame Alice); Runtime: 92; MPAA Rating: PG; producers: L.Q. Jones/Alvy Moore; Columbia TriStar; 1971)
“Nonsensical, creepy satanic supernatural thriller.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
Veteran TV director Bernard McEveety (“One Little Indian”/”Napoleon and Samantha”) helms this nonsensical, creepy Satanic supernatural thriller. The low-budget horror film, derived from a story by Sean MacGregor and scripted by L.Q. Jones and William Welch, does itself proud with a few nice artistic touches (like the ice house filling up with the recent dead) and a few hair-raising scare scenes involving children and Satanists. But it’s all too silly to get worked up over, and might only please those looking to get some gothic thrills over an hysterical Satan whipping up his coven of Satanists into a frenzy. It’s indebted to the superior John Sturges’ Bad Day at Black Rock (1955) and Roman Polanski’s Rosemary’s Baby (1968), but strains all sensibilities and credibility by having such ridiculous scenes as a Black Mass that is out to lunch as weirdo camp.
Torrance, California engineer Ben Holden (Charles Bateman), his 8-year-old daughter K.T. (Geri Reischl) and the widower’s new squeeze, the mini-skirted hottie Nicky (Ahna Capri), miss a turn to grandma’s house in the Southwest desert (somewhere in rural California) and on the deserted back road spot a demolished car with a dead family. Reporting this to the intense Sheriff Pete (L.Q. Jones) in the nearby town of Hillsboro, they are met with hostility and a town barricaded in their houses, paralyzed by fear. When Ben is attacked by a man wielding an ax, he escapes with his family but runs into car trouble when he goes off the road trying to avoid the ghost-like figure of a girl on the road. Returning to uptight Hillsboro, Ben learns the reason for the hysterical town is because twenty-six people have met grizzly deaths within the past seventy-two hours and some eleven children are missing. I guess the Devil’s power is so great that no one from the town can leave and all the lines of communication are down and the leading citizens can only think to barricade themselves in their houses rather than find some alternate way to, maybe, contact the FBI., state police or an exorcist.
Warning: spoiler in the next paragraph.
But since Ben is the sturdy, rational, and no-nonsense all-American kind of guy, he listens to the Anthony Perkins lookalike priest’s (Charles Robinson) belief that all signs point to a devil worshiping coven taking place somewhere in this old town. With the help of Sheriff Pete, who finally believes there’s some connection between witches and the 13 missing children (two more kiddies are snatched), the good guys search the isolated Barry house (where a few dead bodies were discovered) and get the surprise of their lives. They discover all the missing children, including K.T., standing around mesmerized in a barren room, as the witches have all perished by blows meted out to them by the fiery sword of the Devil, none other than the new mild-mannered doctor in town (Strother Martin), and that their evil spirits have transported over into the children.
REVIEWED ON 4/1/2008 GRADE: C+
Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”
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