My good friend The Black Saint from www.horrornews.net was kind enough to answer my call for guest contributors here at Vic’s Movie Den. I am very honored to have him serve us up a review of a very ghoulish and scary film from the 1970’s called “The Brotherhood of Satan.” The Black Saint is one helluva busy man reviewing countless horror films and interviewing up and coming horror directors, so I would like to thank him for thinking of Vic’s Movie Den and all of my awesome followers and readers! Here is his review and interview page over at HorrorNews.Net –
When Victor invited me to contribute a short column to “Vic’s Movie Den” I immediately thought “Who is this guy and why is he bothering me?” Does he even realize how valuable The Black Saint’s time is? I was preparing to eradicate any vestige of both him & his blog when I decided to read a few of his blog entries. 12 hours later (!) I came to the conclusion that Vic might have something here and came up with an idea for his perusal…
The Black Saint is something of a horror film historian and the 70’s produced some of my all time favorite horror films. Films like “The Abominable Dr. Phibes”, “Sssssss”, “Bug” among others. You’ll note that besides “Dr. Phibes” the films I mentioned aren’t considered classics of either the decade or the genre but I have a fondness for smaller, lesser known films. One film comes to mind immediately, a film that is rarely spoken about and isn’t widely known but should be required viewing for anyone who’s interested in horror films of the 70’s. The name of this movie is “The Brotherhood Of Satan”
Directed by Bernard McEveety (Simon and Simon, Gunsmoke and In The Heat Of The Night) and starring first class character actors Strother Martin & L.Q. Jones, “The Brotherhood Of Satan” (TBOS from here on) tells the story of a a widower driving with his girlfriend & his young daughter when they come upon a car accident. Understandably trying to do the right thing, they drive towards the nearest town (Hillsboro) to report the accident. Once they arrive they aren’t treated especially well and the locals start to harass the three of them to leave as quickly as they arrived. It seems that the town is under the grip of a satanic cult which is lorded over by the elderly population of town. There has been a spate of child disappearances going on as well and everyone in town is on edge.
That’s all you really need to know! To tell you anymore would be to spoil what is one of the most atmospheric low budget beauties of the 70’s. “TBOS” starts off odd & disquieting with a couple of kids turning toys into real weapons and for a short while you might not understand what the hell is going on but trust me…give the film a little time to work it’s way into your head and you won’t be able to take your eyes off of the screen. McEveety’s direction paints every scene with an ambiance of dread & despair from the first frame on & after you get your bearings that dread jumps off of the screen and into your soul. It’s a seriously unnerving atmosphere that he’s created and it really gets to you after awhile.
The tense script, written by L.Q. Jones & Sean MacGregor accentuates short, terse dialog over long drawn out monologues. Jones (Along with actor Alvy Moore) not only produced the film but appear in it as a no nonsense sheriff (Jones) & his comic relief deputy (Moore). Along with Martin (who plays the town doctor & leader of the cult) this little gem featured three of the best character actors of the 70’s. And Strother in particular has a field day with the script! He gives each line reading a down home flavor that’s seasoned with a generous dollop of evil for spiciness. There are no bad performances to be found here.
McEveety wisely uses fog to illustrate the isolation of not only the town but the people in it. The fog is almost a character in this movie as are the toys that the kids use to murder adults. Although the whole “Killer Doll” bit has been done to death both before & after this film, it’s unusually effective here and is the stuff that nightmares are made of. Surreal lighting techniques highlight the overall oddness of the town & the foreboding nature of what it hides from the prying eyes of strangers. What really makes this film special to me is it’s downbeat ending. Leading into the 70’s american films began to embrace the idea that not every movie had to have a happy ending. Arthur Hiller’s “Bonnie & Clyde” (1967) being a prime example of that movement.
“TBOS” has an especially downbeat (& scary) ending that left me lying in bed with my eyes open for more than a few nights after I had seen it for the first time on late night TV. But now I’m getting ahead of myself aren’t I? Do yourself a favor and make a point to watch one of the most unheralded horror films of the 70’s. You might not like it as much as I do but I truly believe you’ll come away from it thinking that it wasn’t too bad at all. Unfortunately it’s not streaming on Netflix but it is available to watch instantly on Crackle. Trust me, you could do a whole lot worse than this one and I’m sure you already have. Drop me a line after you’ve seen it & tell me your thoughts, I’m really not interested in them but I’ve been told that I have to rehab my reputation a bit…
The Black Saint has now left the building…
Many Thanks to “The Black Saint” Please stop in again soon!