The Brotherhood of Satan – USA, 1971

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‘A story of contemporary family witchcraft in California.’

The Brotherhood of Satan is a 1971 American horror feature film produced by and starring L. Q. Jones. It was directed by Bernard McEveety from a screenplay by William Welch from a story by Sean MacGregor. The movie also stars Strother Martin and Anna Capri.

Actors L. Q. Jones and Alvy Moore produced two other genre films during this period – The Witchmaker (1969) and A Boy and His Dog (1973). The soundtrack score was composed by Jaime-Mendoza Nava.

Plot:

Ben (Charles Bateman), his girlfriend Nicky (Anna Capri), and Ben’s young daughter K.T. (Geri Reischl) are driving through the American Southwest to K.T.’s grandmother’s house for a birthday celebration.

The group come upon an automobile accident in the town of Hillsboro, and when they attempt to report it, they meet the local sheriff, (L. Q. Jones), his assistant Tobey (Alvy Moore), Doc Duncan (Strother Martin), and a priest (Charles Robinson). These locals explain the unusual events in the town which involve several murders, the inability of the people to leave the town, and that many of the local children have gone missing.

It transpires that a local coven of elderly Satanists have been taking the children and leading them to worship Satan in a plot to use their bodies as receptacles for their own souls…

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Reviews:

“The plot details are slightly unique, though mostly the film will only help the viewer to recall other small town-gone-haywire devil-included movies like The Children of the Corn. The performances are flat, thanks more to a flatter script than bad actors. There are a couple of interesting and intense scenes, but the movie peaks with the tank at the beginning…” Martin Liebman, Blu-ray.com

“William Welch’s script has many chilling moments as well as one eerie dream sequence.” John Stanley, Creature Features

The Brotherhood of Satan is definitely a moody, creepy little PG-rated film that keeps the monsters and demons unseen while still delivering the chills. Utilizing shadows, fog and unusual camera angles, it boasts some clever ideas, such as children’s toys working as murder devices…” George R Reis, DVD Drive-In

“It is saved by some neat sequences with great trippy direction and cinematography that could come out of no other era than the late 60’s/early 70’s. Particularly there is a great dream sequence, and some cliched but nostalgic uses of fog, spooky dolls, howling dogs, a neat subdued beheading, and the same old devil movie stuff like the robed cultists chanting some “Hail Satan!… Evil Rules!” mumbo jumbo.” J. Doyle Wallis, DVD Talk

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“The Brotherhood of Satan is like a combination of The Twilight Zone and Rosemary’s Baby. It doesn’t work all the time, and it needs repeated viewings to fully appreciate the storyline. But fans of subtle horror will really enjoy the movie.” Horror Digital

Brotherhood of Satan is low-budget but Bernard McEveety succeeds in creating a certain atmosphere. The film’s big problem is that it is elliptically told – it takes a good two-thirds of the running time before one gets a picture of what is going on in the town. Even then it only disappointingly turns out to be the old standby of Satanists transferring their souls into the bodies of the young.” Richard Scheib, Moria

“Plenty of sinister reds and bright greens and blues give things a very strange feel while the smoke, fog, cobwebs and weird stagey sets sort of seal the deal. This one is just really well done, a great piece of seventies occult inspired cinema made with a keen eye for compositions, a really enjoyable cast and featuring some genuinely surprising set pieces.” Ian Jane, Rock! Shock! Pop!

“There may be a disjointed quality to much of what played out, but that added to the off kilter atmosphere, benefitting from such sequences as the one where one girl’s doll forces her parents into seizures which kill them, or Nicky’s nightmare which isn’t presented in a particularly different fashion to the rest of the movie.” Graeme Clark, The Spinning Image

“Quite good, this is sort of Devil’s Rain for the geriatric set, with shades of Rosemary’s Baby and Race with the Devil thrown in for good measure. It’s an intriguing premise carried out well, and capped by a nice, creepy climax. An admirable product of a long bygone era.” The Terror Trap

“Had the movie been more carefully plotted, not only would it have made more sense, it likely wouldn’t have that same aimless, plodding feeling as those people in the dark. But when all is said and done, after weighing all this negative stuff with the genuinely positive material that was previously mentioned, you get neither the best nor the worst example of this movie formula.” Keith Bailey, The Unknown Movies

Cast and characters:

  • Strother Martin … Doc Duncan
  • L. Q. Jones … Sheriff
  • Charles Bateman … Ben
  • Ahna Capri … Nicky
  • Charles Robinson … Priest
  • Alvy Moore … Tobey
  • Helene Winston … Dame Alice
  • Joyce Easton … Mildred Meadows
  • Debi Storm … Billie Joe
  • Jeff Williams … Stuart
  • Judy McConnell … Phyllis
  • Robert Ward … Mike
  • Geri Reischl … K. T.

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Filming locations:

Albuquerque, New Mexico

Promotion:

When The Brotherhood of Satan was originally released, American movie house goers were given a packet of “Satan’s Soul” seeds when they purchased their tickets. Each paper envelope (illustrated with the movie’s logo) contained two seeds, which were, according to the instructions, supposed to provide protection “from the Black Magic of The Brotherhood of Satan”.

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