The Sorcerers, 1967. 6/10

Interesting blend of horror/sci-fi and crime drama, a cool ‘Swinging London’ setting, and Boris Karloff. Sounds like a great combination, but it doesn’t work out as well as it could.

Ian Ogilvy’s Mike goes on a rampage after Monsarrat’s (Karloff’s) wife Estelle (Catherine Lacey) takes over the guy’s mind. It’s interesting that Karloff, the semi-mad scientist who creates the mesmerizing gizmo used on Mike, is also subjugated by her.

As other critics have mentioned, the generation gap theme usefully explains the vicarious thrill that Estelle gets from manipulating Mike. What’s isn’t at all clear is her motivation in having him become a violent criminal and murderer. One could see a Karloff character up to no good; but here he’s almost nebbish. Once his experiment works on Mike, he’s relegated to the background. Estelle steps up and becomes a nutjob.

Once used, the hypnosis machine is destroyed; one would think a mastermind with such a device would want to turn out a bunch of compliant zombies. Mike could be used to lure other ‘recruits’ to the Monsarrat’s. But we’re stuck with misanthropic Mike.

In any case, messing with Mike’s head takes a lot of time. If it weren’t for the mod nightclub interludes, the first part of the movie wouldn’t hold up. Mike’s crime spree saves the day. The pace picks up considerably, culminating in the wild chase scene. But Mike, while aware that he’s having memory lapses, never connects them to his experience with the Monsarrats.

For all the mayhem Mike causes, he acts normal enough until it’s time to do Estelle’s bidding. That makes sense, but it would be better if he’s actually had more of a ‘Mr. Hyde’ look. When he’s first mesmerized, I thought that the hallucinogenic lights playing on his face would become some sort of hideous mutation. Then he could skulk around in the alleys at night looking for victims…

As it is, The Sorcerers works better as a straight crime thriller. It would’ve taken a better script to successfully merge the mad scientist plot with the psychopathic killer plot. Either that, or set Mike’s rampage up earlier, and skip the Monsarrat’s domestic rivalry. Karloff’s character just isn’t evil enough here. An entertaining, but uneven movie. 6/10.

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