Simon, King of the Witches (1971)

Article #1416 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 1-29-2005
Posting Date: 6-28-2005
Directed by Bruce Kessler
Featuring Andrew Prine, George Paulsin, Brenda Scott

A warlock befriends a young man, finds himself involved with the daughter of the D.A., and becomes involved in a narcotics investigation.

The movie opens with Andrew Prine delivering the line, “My name is Simon. I live in a storm drain. When it rains, most people go in. I go out.” Thus begins one of the oddest movies about witchcraft that I’ve seen in a long time. Andrew Prine underplays the title character, and this makes him more human and more sympathetic than he might otherwise have been. In fact, his friendship with Turk, a young male prostitute, is quite touching. The movie is also filled with some genuine intentional humor, and I laughed several times. However, the movie has problems. It’s never really as scary as it hopes to be, and a rather lame monster (played by a red light) doesn’t help. A scene in which Simon performs a ritual with the unwitting help of a gay man is overly stereotypical to be much fun. Some of the scenes are more silly than anything else, including one at a witch’s coven (though the line “Don’t touch me, I’m a sacred object.” is a keeper) and one where Simon talks to the trees. And once Simon and Turk part ways (in a rather sad scene), the movie gets lost in its messy, confusing and unsatisfying plot, and even engages in some 2001-inspired visual pyrotechnics that lead the viewer nowhere. It’s a shame; there’s something unique and inspired about this one at its best. Chalk it up as an interesting failure.


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