Tuesday, October 20, 2009

The Brotherhood of Satan (1971)

In this little-seen and underrated Satanic flick, elderly residents of a isolated town have taken to snatching children and turning them into followers of Satan. Once they’ve collected enough children, a ritual will be held to transpose the senior citizens souls into the bodies of the kids, giving them renewed life!

Meanwhile, Ben (Charles Bateman), his girlfriend Nicky (Ahna Capri) and his daughter K.T. (Geri Reischl) are on their way to grandmother’s house when they happen upon a horrible accident and drive to the nearest town for help. Unfortunately, it’s the same Satanic town mentioned above and there they are met with hysterical townsfolk. They drive away, but car trouble forces them back into town. Once back in, a supernatural force keeps them and the rest of the townsfolk trapped. Seems that the senior citizen Satanists need one more child to perform their Black Mass, and that child is K.T. Will Ben save his daughter and the town before it’s too late and the small fry of Satan are unleashed?

The Brotherhood of Satan certainly has a convoluted and confusing way of unfolding its narrative, but as the pieces come together you are drawn further and further into the story. Besides its weird narrative structure, the film also boasts some odd scenes including a toy tank turning into a real tank and crushing a car and a dancing doll that causes the death of some parents, among others. The real highlight of the film for me was the Satan-worshipping party the seniors had. It was just like a potluck, except upon entry each person pledged their allegiance to Satan and one of their own was tried for allowing her grandson to be baptized. When she was deemed guilty, the ferocity and rage her brethren had towards her was truly frightening. There are also clever ideas used throughout the movie, including children’s toys as the instruments of murder (I don’t want to speak too much on this lest I give anything away, but toys come to (larger than) life to exact murder on parents).

Though the film is very PG-ish and lacks much blood and/or gore, the use of weird camera angles, an evocative score, creepy kids, the colorful visuals and the disorienting narrative really help give it a nightmarish, disturbing quality. Director Bernard McEveety and writers L.Q. Jones (who also stars as the town’s sheriff), Sean MacGregor and William Welch did an excellent job with the film, and I can’t understand why it hasn’t gotten more recognition over the years. It certainly isn’t perfect (especially with the confusing narrative structure), but it certainly deserves another look from horror fans.

If you are looking for a quirky ‘70s Satanic movie, The Brotherhood of Satan is one that should not be overlooked. With shades of Rosemary’s Baby and Race with the Devil, it really deserves a bigger audience!

Order it on Amazon!

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