The first thought that comes to mind when watching The Sorcerers is that Boris Karloff has got to be at least 100 years old. Funny enough, it was not that far off as he was 79 when he made this film. Once again, Karloff plays the mad doctor, albeit a much older one, and because of that there is more of a desperation to the character which he perhaps could not have portrayed years earlier. Directed by the wonderful Michael Reeves who did The Witchfinder General starring Vincent Price, the film while not as good, is still a nice piece of cinema with Karloff still at the top of his game.
Karloff plays Marcus Monserrat, a professor/doctor who is a master hypnotist and has created a machine and a method for taking over the minds of others. He and his wife Estelle, played by Catherine Lacey, are desperate to find a subject for the doctor and who better than a hapless beatnik whom they lure with the promise of drugs. Those beatniks, so predictable! So gullible! Ian Ogilvy stars as said beatnik, Mike, and he agrees to go back to the apartment not knowing there will be no drugs. But like any trusting fool, he still allows himself to be put in the doctor’s chair where he is hypnotized. Marcus and Estelle are ecstatic that they have found a subject for their experiments because now they can control him and experience the feelings and sensations that he himself has, but from afar. They have him do all manner of things, but Estelle soon becomes obsessed and starts controlling Mike more often to commit crimes and more risky things. But as Estelle gets wilder, Marcus aims to stop her and soon things go from bad to worse.
Karloff is great. He always is. And it was nice to see his crazy matched with that by another, specifically Catherine Lacey. She plays psycho exceedingly well and is truly frightening at times. It is mesmerizing as well to see the two match wits and psychically battle each other for dominance of Ogilvy’s mind. It is amazing to see how two truly talented actors can carry a scene with nothing more than facial expressions. Who needs a special effects laden film when you can get two veteran actors to carry a movie with nothing more than their inherent ability? Reeves gets the best out of his cast and the film would most likely have been much poorer with anyone else in the roles. Sally Sheridan plays the eponymous girl, fought over between the two young men in the movie and providing the eye candy for the film. She does a decent job with what she is given, but she could have been interchangeable with any young actress of the day.
The main reason to see this film of course is for Karloff. He is the draw on the marquee, and maybe not so much in 1967 as he was thirty years hence, but he could still act circles around many of his peers. This was only one of four movies that Reeves would direct before his untimely death, but stands as a testament to his emerging skill as a filmmaker. This film, The Sorcerers, was not the greatest, but still quite pleasant and enjoyable for any fan of the genre or good films in general.
4 out of 5