2019 Psychotronic Scarecrow Challenge: Day 31: The Brotherhood of Satan (1971)

Day 34 The Gold Watch: One set in a retirement home or elderly community (or elderly Satanic coven)

You’d think I would have learned by now to research a film on B&S Movies before I write a review. Hey, it’s an L.Q Jones project and you can never, ever get enough of the very cool L.Q Jones (1975’s White Line Fever). My only quibble with L.Q: Why didn’t you write and direct more films, bro? The Brotherhood of Satan and 1975’s A Boy and his Dog (see Sam’s 2017 “Fucked Up Futures” review) are finer than any other demon cult-horror or post-apocalyptic film out there.

Before we came to see L.Q on a weekly, weekend basis courtesy of the perpetual TNT cable replays of Martin Scorsese’s Casino (he’s the western-styled Vegas Commissioner Pat Webb; his dweeb nephew was played by Drive-In guru Joe Bob Briggs) and as Sam Peckinpah’s go-to actor (Major Dundee, The Wild Bunch, Pat Garrett & Billy the Kid), the man that Justin Humphreys chronicles in his book, Names You Never Remember, With Faces You Never Forget (2006), L.Q Jones augmented his prosperous television and film acting career — which began in 1955 — with writing and directing assignments.

During the course of his TV acting endeavors, Jones befriended TV western writer Claude Hall to direct (under the Justus McQueen nom de plume) Hall’s western-dramatic feature film, The Devil’s Bedroom (1964). (As far as I can tell: L.Q’s directing debut has never aired on cable television or seen a VHS release. And it seems no one else has seen it either: there’s no reviews posted on the IMDb and other web resources only offer a cut ‘n pasted synopsis that traces to the TV Guide (so, maybe it did air on TV at some point in the pre-cable universe).

Seven years later, Jones sat behind the camera again as a producer, and as a screenwriter, on the Albuquerque, New Mexico-shot (doubling as a small California town), The Brotherhood of Satan, directed by another one his old western TV director-friends, Bernard McEveety. (Bernard’s career goes from Clint Eastwood’s Rawhide to The Dukes of Hazzard. He also co-directed the 1958 cult horror, The Return of Dracula.) And, get this: L.Q’s other TV buddy, Alvy Moore, the ditzy Mr. Kimball from the ‘60s TV series, Green Acres, co-produces and stars.

“Okay, but what’s this got to do with the elderly theme for today’s Scarecrow Challenge? You hinted about an old people’s coven?”

The Brotherhood of Satan begins as most horror tales do: a family on vacation stumbles into the wrong town at the wrong time where the aloof local sheriff (L.Q Jones) and his hick deputy (Alvy Moore) are investigating the murders of several people and multiple child kidnappings.

“I knew I should have taken that left turn at Albuquerque (that small California town).”

. . . Ah, old Doc Duncan (Strother Martin), who may be Satan incognito, is the head of an elderly Satanist coven stripping the children’s bodies of their souls so the crusty curmudgeons are “reborn” in the children’s bodies. And long before Chucky and Charles Band made a career in the creepy toys market, these elderly Satanists can “mobilize” toys to do their will. i.e., a knight-on-horseback wielding a tiny sword becomes a murder weapon.

Caveat: This is a film where evil triumphs. So if you’re not into the souls of innocent children becoming eternal, spiritual fang-chum for Satan, then you best rent something else. But if you do: You’re missing out on one of the creepiest, underrated low-budget horror films of the ‘70s, one of the best made to cash-in on the horror boom ignited by George Romero’s Night of the Living Dead (although BoS’s geriatric-cult is more likely influenced by Roman Polanski’s 1968 signpost, Rosemary’s Baby). Pair The Brotherhood of Satan with Necromancy (1972) and Messiah of Evil (1973, review, review) and you have yourself a night of surreal, creepy viewing.

And . . . pop quiz: Can you name the actress who starred as “Jan Brady” (Eve Plumb’s replacement) in the mid-‘70s variety-show sequel to The Brady Bunch and the splatter classic, I Dismember Mama (1974)? It’s Geri Reischi, who stars as K.T in The Brotherhood of Satan, the kidnapped daughter of the bumbling travelers who fall into the lair of Satan’s Geriatric Rehabilitation and Soul Re-Implantation Clinic of Albuquerque. (One of the cult’s victims is Judith McConnell, later of The Thristy Dead, who was making a career out of being a cult victim until she got smart and started taking roles in U.S daytime soaps.)

As with Rob Zombie utilizing dialog from 1966’s The Undertaker and his Pals (reviewed as part of B&S Movies’ upcoming November “Pure Terror Month” tribute to the Mill Creek 50-film box set namesake), the twenty-something grungers of the Gen-X world came to rent-out The Brotherhood of Satan as result of My Life with the Thrill Kill Cult sampling lines from the film—“Blood, Blood” and “Drown our useless age in blood”—for “Rivers of Blood, Years of Darkness” from their second album, 1990’s Confessions of a Knife.

Oh, and while we are on the subject of movie lines sampled in songs—and I have Strother Martin (1973 snake-horror Sssssss) on the brain—his classic line from 1967’s Cool Hand Luke was used by Guns N’ Roses. You can watch the song-film comparison on the Who Sampled database. (Mr. Zombie? It’s time to sample Strother from his two horror offerings in your own songs.)

L.Q Jones eventually adapted The Brotherhood of Satan into a 1980 paperback, while the VHS found its way into the home video market in 1986 through RCA/Columbia, and on a 2002 Columbia TriStar DVD. If you’d rather a Blu-ray: Mill Creek Entertainment issued a 2013 double-pack with Mr. Sardonicus. You can stream or download The Brotherhood of Satan from Amazon and Vudu. Sorry, there’s no free online VHS rips.

Clint Eastwood, Green Acres, The Brady Bunch, My Life with the Thrill Kill Cult, Guns N’ Roses, Martin Scorsese, and Bugs Bunny? Referenced within the frames of one film?

It can only happen on the Drive-In and video fringe. And it’s only on B&S Movies.

The Arrow re-issue low down!

We bow to you, Mr. L.Q Jones. We bow. So much so that, in addition to myself, Sam reviewed it, and Horror and Sons proprietor Dustin’s Fallon took a January 22 take on Brotherhood of Satan as part of B&S About Movies’ “Satan Week” (well, three weeks!). Yes. Three reviews for one flick. That’s how good it is!

Doh! Now it’s four with our review of the new Arrow version review. Yes. It is that good. Watch it.

About the Author: You can read the music and film reviews of R.D Francis on Medium and learn more about his work on Facebook. He also writes for B&S About Movies.