Peter Sasdy isn’t a household name, unless you live here in the palatial B&S About Movies estate, where he’s celebrated for movies like Taste the Blood of Dracula, Hands of the Ripper, The Lonely Lady and Welcome to Blood City.
Here, he has two dependable stars: Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee. You really can’t screw this up.
Three wealthy trustees of the Van Traylen fund have committed suicide during the last months. But after a mysterious bus accident claims the lives of the final three members of the fun and thirty orphans, Colonel Bingham (Lee) starts to wonder if it’s all a coincidence.
When one of the orphans gets treated by a psychiatrist who also ends up murdered, that brings in Sir Mark Ashley (Cushing), who agrees to join the case.
That’s right — Cushing and Lee, on the same side.
There’s also the matter of Mary, one of the orphans, having a prostitute mother who keeps begging to see her daughter. By the end, however, there’s a turn ala that year’s The Wicker Man, with the children being revealed as the real culprits, with their minds being replaced by the elderly rich people who want eternal life. The lemmings to the sea death of all the youngsters is pretty shocking today; I bet it was even worse in 1973.
This was the only movie that Charlemagne Productions, a company set up by Lee and famed British producer Anthony Nelson Keys, would release. They had optioned two other books by John Blackburn, Portrait of Barbara and Bury Him Darkly, as sequels to this movie with Lee in the role of Colonel Bingham, but it never happened. They also optioned some of Dennis Wheatley’s books. One of them, To the Devil a Daughter, was made by Hammer.