The Brotherhood of Satan (Special Edition) [BR]
(Strother Martin, L.Q. Jones, Charles Bateman, et al / Blu-ray / NR / (1971) 2021 / Arrow Films UK)
Overview: A small rural town and a family of outsiders, both trapped in the demonic grip of The Brotherhood of Satan!
Recently widowed Ben, his glamourous girlfriend Nicky and his small daughter K.T. are on a road trip across the Southwest, which comes to a screeching halt when they witness an accident.
Heading to the nearby isolated desert town of Hillsboro to report it to the Sheriff (played by L.Q. Jones), they are met with a hostile reaction from the locals, who are gripped by paranoia and fear due to a series of gruesome deaths, as well as the mysterious disappearance of eleven of the communities children.
As the bodies continue to pile up around them, Ben and his family find themselves joining the sheriff, a local priest and the towns enigmatic physician Doc Duncan (Strother Martin, Cool Hand Luke) in the midst of a mystery that points towards a deadly satanic cult.
Produced by Alvy Moore and L.Q. Jones, a veteran character actor best known for his work with Sam Peckinpah, The Brotherhood of Satan is an atmospheric and chilling tale of terror that provides a crucial missing link between Rosemary’s Baby (1968) and The Devils Rain (1975) in the cycle of turn-of-the-seventies shockers involving sinister devil worshipping cults lurking within the dark shadows of modern-day America.
Blu-ray Verdict: If it’s not already considered something of a cult classic, then The Brotherhood of Satan certainly should be, in my humble opinion.
It’s one of a few interesting genre items produced by actors L. Q. Jones and Alvy Moore; the others are The Witchmaker and the justly famous A Boy and His Dog.
Joined by director Bernard McEveety (a veteran of mostly TV), cinematographer John Arthur Morrill (Kingdom of the Spiders) and other talents, they’re wise to concentrate mainly on an escalating sense of danger. In fact, the whole film has a memorable atmosphere of weirdness, not to mention some effective imagery.
Its opening is one of the most memorable things about it, as the filmmakers switch between shots of a toy tank and a real one as it crushes a car beneath it.
This leads us into a story (written by William Welch, with story credit given to Sean MacGregor (director of Devil Times Five) about vacationers Ben (Charles Bateman), his girlfriend Nicky (luscious Ahna Capri), and K. T. (Geri Reischl), Bens’ daughter from a previous marriage.
They come upon a small town whose citizens are scared silly. It seems that no one can enter (save for Ben and company) and no one can leave. Adults are dying, and kids are disappearing. The frustrated sheriff (Jones) doesn’t understand what’s going on and it’s driving him crazy!
This is creepy from the start, and gets under the skin due to a deliberate pace and some deeply committed performances, from bit players as well as main cast members.
Jones and Moore are great value, as always, and Charles Robinson (not to be confused with the actor from Night Court) is good as the priest who comes to figure things out.
Strother Martin is wonderful as the cheerful Doc Duncan who’s hiding a LOT from some of his fellow citizens. There’s also a very fine music score by the under rated Jaime Mendoza-Nava (The Town That Dreaded Sundown ’77).
The nightmare sequence in the latter half of the picture is stylishly done. And there’s one noteworthy scene where a member of the coven (Helene Winston) is confronted for going against the ways of their Dark Lord.
Horror buffs should give this one a try, if they’re not already aware of it. It just makes this viewer more impressed with Jones and Moore that they gave genre fare a go during this period. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.78:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Special Features of:
High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) presentation
Original uncompressed mono audio
Optional English subtitles
Brand new audio commentary by writers Kim Newman and Sean Hogan
Satanic Panic: How the 1970s Conjured the Brotherhood of Satan, a brand new visual essay by David Flint
The Children of Satan, exclusive new interview with actors Jonathan Erickson Eisley and Alyson Moore
Original Trailers and TV and Radio Spots
Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Richard Wells
+ FIRST PRESSING ONLY: Illustrated booklet featuring new writing by Johnny Mains and Brad Stevens