Starring: L.Q. Jones, Strother Martin, Charles Bateman, Ahna Capri, Charles Robinson
Directed by: Bernard McEveety
Licensed by: Arrow Video
Release Date: Released on Blu ray on the 30th of August 2021.
A family road trip suddenly comes to a halt, for a recent widowed Ben (Charles Bateman) with his newly girlfriend Nicky (Ahna Capri) and Ben’s young daughter K.T (Geri Reischl), when they come across a car accident on the highway. After witnessing the car accident, the family heads to the isolated town of Hillsboro to report it to the local sheriff (L.Q. Jones). After trying to report the incident, the family is met with violent locals and with the failure of trying to leave this crazy town, they’re warned by the sheriff (L.Q. Jones)., deputy Tobey (Alvy Moore), the local physician Doc Duncan (Strother Martin) and the local priest (Charles Robinson), of the strange occurrences, that has left the locals paranoid in fear, due to several gruesome murders and the mysterious disappearance of eleven local children gone missing. This soon becomes reality for Ben and Nicky, when Ben’s daughter K.T suddenly goes missing and is believed through the local priest, that a dangerous satanic cult of Satan worshippers are behind it all.
‘’The Brotherhood of Satan’’ (1971) is an American low budget horror movie, that surrounds a family consisting of Ben (Charles Bateman), who’s wife died years prior is now on a road trip with his newly girlfriend Nicky (Ahna Capri) and Ben’s young daughter K.T(Geri Reischl), who are on their way to visit K.T’s grandmother’s house to celebrate K.T’s birthday, which unfortunately for them soon comes to a halt, when they come across a brutal car accident on the highway, leading them to go to the small town of Hillsboro to report the accident they came across to the local sheriff. This film starts with a bizarre opening that may cause confusion to audiences on what is going on, as before we are introduced to our main protagonists Ben and his family, the film shows what had happened that had lead to the car accident Ben and his family had witnessed the aftermaths of, in which the opening of the film shows a continuing theme within this movie, which is children’s toys coming to life and killing those within the town, as a toy tank is shown being brought to life and destroying a car with a family inside, which continues to be even more creepy, as a child is seen walking away from the crash with the toy tank in his hand, indicating something sinister is happening, Ben and his family soon experience the strange occurrences themselves, when they try to leave but are forced to stay, due to a mystical force, that is not letting them or any of the locals leave the town. While the local sheriff (L.Q. Jones).and some of the other locals try to come up with a logical explanation for not being able to leave or the reasoning behind all the gruesome murders and missing children within the town, they all laugh at the local priest (Charles Robinson), who suggests their dealing with witchcraft, but they’re soon proven along with Ben and Nicky, that the priest maybe onto something, when K.T (Geri Reischl), becomes the next child to suddenly go missing and more dead bodies start piling up.
The film introduces our main protagonists Ben (Charles Bateman) and his newly girlfriend Nicky (Ahna Capri), as a loving couple, due to them holding each other’s gazes throughout and their first scene within the film is them passionately having a private moment, before they’re interrupted by Ben’s daughter K.T (Geri Reischl and a sudden pouring down of lashing rain. Ben’s newly girlfriend Nicky (Ahna Capri) is portrayed from the very start to have been treating Ben’s daughter K.T (Geri Reischl) as if she was her own, as despite K.T not being hers by blood, Nicky is shown being affectionate towards her and K.T seems to reciprocate the same affection, showing there is trust between them, as Nicky’s character isn’t portrayed as a cruel step mother but a doting one instead. The locals within the town of Hillsboro are firstly introduced as crazy town’s people, as they turned dangerously violent the minute Ben and his family showed up, as due to all the strange occurrences and the mystery behind no one being able to come in or out of the town, has caused the locals to become paranoid, as they became suspicious of Ben and his family, as they were the first outside people to get into the town. The character of the local sheriff (L.Q. Jones) is shown in most of his scenes to be smoking, which indicates he might be using it as a copying mechanism, as character traits like this has made his character stand out, as he shows more emotion and presence on screen than our lead protagonist, as he has moments where he loses it, due to the stress of how he can’t solve the mystery, which is even more frustrating for him, as his niece is one of the missing children and even though he is sceptical at first, he does step up, when he finally comes to terms and believes the priest (Charles Robinson), that there is something satanic at play. The character that stood out the most was the cult leader (Strother Martin), due to his performance being quite eccentric, as he embodied the craziness and evilness of a satanic worshipper with the pride and egotistic mind of a leader, who wants those to bow down to him and kiss his hand.
This ambitious low budget horror film was a truly entertaining watch, with its unique visual ideas that were quite well executed while others were not. This film had one of the most strange openings, that involved a toy tank destroying a car with a family inside, with the film showing the back and forth of seeing a toy tank to the tank becoming life size and with no context on why or how this is happening, it will keep audiences intrigued to see how this ties into the overall plot. Along with the toy tank, the film also has other toys come to life, that were visually quite well executed, such as the film showing the contrast between a toy of a knight on a horse reflecting in the shadow on the wall behind it to seeing the same knight on a horse brought to life and having their shadow reflect the image of the killing of its victim. One of the killings that wasn’t executed visually as well as some of the others, was where a creepy doll is about to murder a couple but the scene comes off more laughable that creepy, as it looks as though someone was just shaking the doll in front of the camera and edited to look as though it had killed their victim. The most visually striking scenes were those with the satanic cult, as due to the creepy imagery that is shown describing horrific events and the red lighting that helps set up a more gothic feel, it causes those scenes to stand out, as it visually looks as though it’s not in the same contemporary setting, as the rest of the movie with our main protagonists. The character of the cult leader (Strother Martin) stood out from the rest of the cast, as the actor Strother Martin, who is mainly known as a character actor, looked as though he had the most fun with his role, as he had brought much needed life into the film. Other than the character of the cult leader (Strother Martin) giving a more of a memorable performance, there is a sense of disconnect for our other characters such as our main protagonists Ben (Charles Bateman) and Nicky (Ahna Capri), as they don’t really get much to do, other than having a sweet family dynamic and it’s the same with the characters of the sheriff (L.Q. Jones) and the local priest (Charles Robinson), as it felt as though they were all doomed from the start.
I highly recommend watching ‘The Brotherhood of Satan’ (1971), as I guarantee you will be surprised by how quite ambitious the film tries to be, as despite it being low budget, the filmmakers tried to make something unique, which is evident especially in it’s opening scene and even though the film doesn’t always perfectly execute all their visual ideas, it will leave audiences with chills from the film’s fiery satanic bloody ceremony to the eyes of those staring back in its dark unsettling end.
‘The Brotherhood of Satan’ (1971) is a mix between the horror film ‘Children of the Corn’ meets ‘Rosemary’s Baby’ , as the children in this film are used as pawns by something satanic and the film also indicates towards a sickening reason behind those involved in the satanic cult. ‘The Brotherhood of Satan’ (1971) is directed by Bernard McEveety, who famously directed Jodie Foster’s first film Disney’s ‘Napoleon and Samantha’ in 1972.
Special thanks to Vertigo Releasing, who has announced that ‘The Brotherhood of Satan’ (1971) will be available on Blu ray with a broad range of special features including new audio commentary and much more, to be released on the 30th of August 2021.