Monday, July 27, 2015

The Sorcerers

A few months ago TCM showed a new-to-me movie called The Sorcerers. It's on again tonight at 6:30 PM on TCM, and is definitely worth a watch.

Boris Karloff stars as Prof. Monserrat, an elderly, down on his luck hypnotist/pyschologist. It's to the point that he has to advertise at corner shops, and can barely pay for those advertisements. But he's been working with his wife Estelle (Catherine Lacey) on a new invention, one that's sure to revolutionize society! The only problem is, to prove that the machine will work, they need to find a young, healthy person on whom they can experiment without the person being aware as to what's going one and what the experiment will entail. Sounds highly unethical, but I suppose if the elderly couple were ethical, we wouldn't have much of a movie, would we?

Thankfully, the couple lives in London during the swingin' 60s, so there are a lot of young people around who like to experience life. They find Mike (Ian Ogilvy), a guy who likes to go out to the clubs with his girlfriend Nicole (Elizabeth Ercy) butalways seems to find himself winding up bored with the whole thing. So when he leaves the club to take a walk by himself and Monserrat approaches him, Mike decides to take Monserrat up up on the offer of having the wildest experience he's ever had, although Mike is understandably skeptical about the whole thing and is really only doing it on a lark.

And so they set out on the experiment, which involves strapping Mike into some ghastly machine while he watches, well, something that looks like an abstract video of lights, colors, and shapes. In fact, this mind-blowing contraption is supposed to put Mike into some sort of super hypnotic trance through which the Professor and his wife will be able to control Mike. But what makes the device revolutionary is not that they'll be able to control Mike, but the fact that they will be able to feel Mike's experiences. And in fact, the experiment seems to be a success as the elderly couple can feel when Mike cracks an egg open on his hand, and then washes his hand.

Think of the good that this contraption could be used for! Professor Monserrat believes it will be a boon to seniors and other shut-ins who will have a better ability to experience the world around him. Yeah right. If that were what the device were going to be used for, we once again wouldn't have much of a movie. Instead, Estelle gets ideas of her own. She's always wanted a fur coat, and with the device giving her the ability to control Mike, perhaps she can get him to break into a furrier and steal a coat for her! And Estelle wants more than that, much more. The Professor wants to stop her, of course, but does he have to will to do it? And won't everybody around Mike figure out that something bizarre is going on?

The Sorcerers is one of those movies that probably shouldn't be thought of as very good, but boy is it entertaining. Boris Karloff for the most part, and Catherine Lacey especially, are confined to one set of their tiny London flat for the entire movie. The hypnotic induction sequence was frankly laughable, albeit reminiscent of The Ipcress File, which is supposed to be a much more serious movie. Poor Ian Ogilvy has to act like an automaton for much of the movie. And yet, The Sorcerers is a heck of a lot of fun. Put it on when you just want to be entertained, and don't have to think too hard.

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