SIMON, KING OF THE WITCHES (1971 ) Reviews and overview

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‘The evil spirit must choose evil…’
Simon, King of the Witches is a 1971 American horror feature film directed by Bruce Kessler (Deathmoon; Cruise Into Terror; Kolchak: The Night Stalker TV series) from a screenplay written by Robert Phippeny.

The Fanfare Films production stars Andrew Prine, Brenda Scott, George Paulsin, Norman Burton, Gerald York, Ultra Violet. Executive producer Joe Solomon also made Tower of Evil (1972) and Werewolves on Wheels (1971).

Plot:
Simon Sinestrari (Andrew Prine), a cynical ceremonial magician, is on a quest to become a god. Simon lives in a storm drain, selling his charms and potions for money when he is befriended by a young male prostitute named Turk (George Paulsin).

Turk introduces Simon to his world of drugs, wild parties, and hysterical Wiccan rituals featuring a goat. Death and mayhem ensue, along with romance for Simon with the district attorney’s daughter (Brenda Scott)…

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Reviews:
” …there’s a freaky psychedelic sequence towards the end that looks as if it was lifted straight out of 2001: A Space Odyssey. But Simon, King of the Witches is not the kind of movie that will scare the pants off of you. Instead, it’s a clever, engaging, and sometimes hilarious motion picture about the black arts, and I for one enjoyed it.” 2,500 Movies Challenge

“There’s just no pacing or excitement. A ride down the Hollywood Freeway around 4:30 p.m. any weekday is scarier.” John Stanley, Creature Features

” …with goodies like Andy Warhol Factory icon Ultra Violet leading a nude wiccan ceremony or a psychedelic freak out of a climax that gets closer to trippy Saul Bass territory than you’d expect. The wonderful, delirious score by Stu Phillips (fresh off of his epic work on Beyond the Valley of the Dolls) is a major asset as well, and as a slice of L.A. during the Nixon era, it’s a tough one to beat.” Mondo Digital

“A trippy counterculture character study masquerading as a horror movie, Simon is very much a product of its time but benefits greatly from Andrew Prine’s energetic performance in the titular role…” Temple of Schlock

“This is everything I love about exploitation movies in one glorious hour-and-a-half potion. It’s engaging, quirky, authentic in its inauthenticity, sincere in its bracingly honest insincerity. These people didn’t know squat about the occult, but they were game to give it a go, and the end result is pure magic.” Trash Film Guru

” …Phippeny’s script makes his protagonist go from being likeable (if a bit wacky) to rather annoying. There’s just not much of a flow to the proceedings and if it wasn’t for the fact Prine gives a commanding lead performance there’d be little here to talk about – if you don’t count the bad 70’s fashions on display or some brief nudity by Scott.” The Video Graveyard

Choice dialogue:

Simon Sinestrari: “My boy, you don’t know how important it is for a magician to have the right kind of workshop.”

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Release:
The movie premiered on 19th May 1971 in Chicago and Los Angeles.

Dark Sky Films released the film on DVD on June 24, 2008. Buy from Amazon.com

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Cast and characters:
Andrew Prine … Simon Sinestrari
Brenda Scott … Linda Rackum
George Paulsin … Turk
Norman Burton … Willard Rackum
Gerald York … Hercules
Ultra Violet … Sarah
Michael C. Ford … Shay
Lee J. Lambert … Troy
William Martel … Commissioner Dan Davies
Angus Duncan … Colin
Richmond Shepard … Stanley
Richard Ford Grayling … Detective John Peter
Allyson Ames … Olivia Gebhart
Harry Rose … Landlord
Dean Cromer … Lab Technician (as Mike Kopcha)
John Yates … Policeman
Jerry Brooke … Policeman
Ray Galvin … Chief Boyle
Buck Holland … Detective
David Vaile … TV Newscaster
Earl Spainard … Reporter
Frank Corsentino … Reporter
Bob Carlson … Reporter
John Copage … Reporter
Bill McConnell … Reporter

Filming locations:
Los Angeles, California

Technical details:
1 hour 39 minutes
Metrocolor
Aspect ratio: 1.78: 1
Audio: Mono

Trailer:

MOVIES and MANIA rating:

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