Andrew Prine is an exploitation superstar. Just look at a few of his films: Grizzly, a bonkers ripoff of Jaws with a bear instead; The Town That Dreaded Sundown, a movie that can’t decide if it wants to be a comedy or a brutal slasher and ends up being both while being awesome; Amityville II: The Possession, the scummiest movie perhaps ever put out by a major studio; and many more. Like this one, a film that skewers the youth culture of the early 1970’s.
In this crazy slice of lunacy, Prine is Simon Sinestrari, the king of the witches who lives in a storm sewer. He sells his magic for money, just like his friend Turk sells his body. Together, they explore the world of drugs, parties and fake Satanic rituals thrown by Warhol superstar Ultra Violet. Meanwhile, Simon falls in love with a rich man’s daughter and has to decide whether or not he wants to ascend to godhood.
The ad campaign is what killed this movie. It promised a Manson-like Satanic sex orgy and the movie delivers only brief nudity and no blood. I personally adore it, as it’s such a time capsule of when it was made and such an accurate depiction of magic.
That may be because screenwriter Robert Phippeny was an actual practicing warlock. I can’t find much other information about him, only that he only wrote one other movie, 1969’s The Night of the Following Day. Director Bruce Kessler did much more, with a rich career in TV, including being behind the Night Stalker episode “Chopper,” as well as the TV movie Cruise Into Terror.
As for Andrew Prine, he’s beyond perfect in this movie. He considered his time making as if he were in the circus. The fun he was having is infectious.
Simon represents perhaps one of the most Satanic heroes the screen has ever witnessed. He lives up to nearly all of the Nine Satanic Statements as well as being aware of the Nine Satanic Sins. He fights against stupidity, pretentiousness and herd mentality.
Magus Peter H. Gilmore of the Church of Satan was kind enough to weigh in on this film: “The producers actually approached Anton LaVey and offered for him to play the part of Simon. They didn’t grasp LaVey’s own ideas of pride and self-deification, so the prospect of playing a homeless warlock living in a storm drain with a naïve male hustler was really not a role he’d have relished. That Simon attends a neo-pagan rite and mocks the stilted ceremony would have echoed some of LaVey’s feelings about contemporary occultists.”