Sunday, October 14, 2012

Witchy Whoa, Man: "Simon, King of the Witches" (1971)



Andrew Prine, who has been wonderful in everything he has ever done except this, plays Simon, a man who practices witchcraft from his home in a storm drain.

He meets Turk, played by George Paulsin, in jail, and Turk introduces Simon to Hercules, a local money man who has powerful friends and makes things happen.

Simon also meets the very stoned Linda, who happens to be the D.A.'s daughter. Simon is bilked out of some money by a skeptical client, and kills him with a curse. Suddenly, everyone wants Simon's services. Simon has big plans of his own, since he will soon join the other gods he worships and will help rule the world.

Well, it seems the D.A. orders the raid of Simon's basement apartment, plants some dope, and Simon cannot go through with "I'm gonna be a god" ceremony. Simon has his revenge by bringing down the city government through some well placed spells, but he also gets Linda killed in the process. In the end, the drug dealers end up killing Simon, who reminds us that death is temporary. So are acting careers, as most of the cast here found out.

This came out in 1971, and it features every reason people roll their eyes when others wax nostalgic about the '70's. It turns out Turk likes women, but will sleep with men if the need arises, i.e. money. In one awful scene, Simon uses a very feminine gay man in a ceremony, because Turk asked him to so the gay man would stop pursuing him. The film treats this "dangerous" subject so gingerly, as if they were making some life changing social point, when today you cannot swing a remote control without hitting a gay character on TV. Brenda Scott's Linda is stoned all the time, which makes her the character you eventually care the least about. Simon's incantations are ludicrous and unintentionally funny. His explosion at another witches' ceremony is very silly. Most of his witchcraft consists of waving a dagger in the air and saying "electric, magnetic" over and over again. Watch for the scene where he has a one sided conversation with a large tree, I am smiling just thinking about it.

Director Kessler pulls out all the psychedelic stops here, the climax looks like rejected scenes from "2001: A Space Odyssey." The cast throws around terms like "cat," "groovy," "far out," "weed," and "pad," I think in the same sentence. The wardrobe is hallucinogenic enough, with every nightmarish cliche you can find.

This film tries to be serious, almost like an expose, but it fails miserably. It is often funny, without meaning to be. "Simon, King of the Witches" is all smoke and mirrors. I do not recommend it. (*) out of five stars. Get this movie now!: Simon, King of the Witches