CHILLING CLASSICS MONTH: Land of the Minotaur (1976)

I watch a lot of bad movies. Often, you have to take a part of the movie that you like and use it to get through a film. This one is a case in point. There’s a lot of this movie that would kill the spirit of an average movie watcher. Not me. Not when there are so many hilarious and amazing parts. It’s like giving feedback to an employee: let’s start with a little sugar, some things we like before we really start hammering them with everything they’ve done wrong.

Otherwise known as The Devil’s Men, the first two things you’ll notice good about this film are its two stars; Donald Pleasence and Peter Cushing. This is yet another in the long list of roles that Mr. Pleasence did not turn down. In fact, I wonder what it would have taken for him to refuse to act in a film. True fact: he didn’t even turn down acting roles when he was a prisoner of war in the German camp Stalag Luft I. The longer the film went on, the more things I yelled out at the screen in Pleasence’s trademark shout.

Peter Cushing is so far above this film that it makes you sad to watch his dignified face as he conducts a rather ridiculous ritual to a concrete bull god/minotaur. I can only imagine that his stiff upper lip was sorely tested and he could not wait to get back home to paint his wargaming miniatures and sit at his table at the Tudor Team Rooms in Whitstable. He would never complain, however. It would be beneath him.

The actual movie itself is just a trifle — a cult led by Cushing is kidnapping hippie tourists as they work on a Greek archeological site and Pleasence is an Irish priest who is a friend to the youngsters that joins forces with a private detective to save the kids, growing more and more irritated as time goes on.

Perhaps the most mindblowing thing about Land of the Minotaur is that Brian Eno, of all people. Maybe that, as well as Cushing exploding when Pleasence holds up a glowing crucifix, is enough to say that this movie isn’t a complete waste of time.

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