The Sorcerers (1967)

The original story for this movie came from John Burke, who for the majority of his career wrote the novelizations for movies such as A Hard Day’s Night, Dr. Terror’s House of Horrors, two volumes of The Hammer Horror Omnibus, Ian Fleming’s Chitty Chitty Bang BangMoon Zero Two and many more. Director Michael Reeves and his childhood friend Tom Baker — not the scarf-wearer Time Lord — re-wrote the script, including making Boris Karloff’s character more sympathetic at the actor’s request.

Burke only got an idea by credit, but after his death, his estate published a limited edition of the original script, as well as letters and legal documents related to the film.

The Sorcerers is very 1967 and I mean that in the best of ways. There are places within the London of this film that feel ancient and shopworn while others feel vibrant and new. The technology seems old and the movie is more than fifty years old, but it still feels like something that could be made today.

Dr. Marcus Monserrat (Karloff) has invented a hypnosis-based machine that allows him to control people and feel what they feel. His wife Estelle is part of his experiments and as their device allows them to live the lives of others, a frisson occurs between them. Marcus wants to document and publish his experiments; Estelle wants to live a youth free of consequences through others. She destroys the device, making all of his work meaningless, and asserts herself as the stronger of the twosome. Now that she has complete control of Mike (Ian Ogilvy), she uses the young man to race recklessly, to steal and even to kill.

Reeves had only made The She Beast and would only make one more movie, the amazing Witchfinder General, before sadly dying from an accidental overdose at the age of 25. He’d been suffering from insomnia and depression, with a variety of treatments being prescribed to help him. An investigation proved that this was no suicide, just a horrible tragedy.

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