Simon King of the Witches (1971)
Directed by Bruce Kessler

Starring Andrew Prine Brenda Scott Gerald York Richard Shepard Ultra Violet

One of the wackiest things about the 1970s was the Wicca trend -- and how it influenced horror movies of the time.

With a beard and hair that really reminds the viewer of what Barry Gibb would look like in the mid to late 1970s (who knows, maybe his appearance here would be an influence on the Bee Gees style), Andrew Prine plays Simon, a warlock who lives in a storm drain. Explaining to the camera that he doesn't go out unless it's raining, we begin watching his adventures after he is arrested by police for vagrancy. Spending the night in jail, he connects with a young hustler with strong social connections in the swinging party set.

Working a party that looks like a tamed down Russ Meyer "happening," he meets the gorgeous pill-popping daughter of the local D.A.; a wealthy party animal philanthropist; and a doubter who writes him a bad check for a reading.

Simon starts going down a path of revenge when he puts a death curse of the bad check writer. A psychedelic flashing light shows up and causes a potted plant to fall on the man, killing him. Things get weirder and weirder as Simon strikes up a sexual and ritualistic relationship with the DA's daughter (Brenda Scott). In one of the film's more explicit scenes, he shows up and defiles a local Wiccan ceremony, apparently unimpressed with the magic the coven is working with.

There's nudity, wacky rituals and a psychedelic sequence that was clearly influenced by Stanley Kubrick's "2001." In short, this is an artifact of an era -- it probably would have been more at home in the '60s than the '70s. Again, the movie at time has a Russ Meyer feel, but watered down.

The best thing about it is the performance by Prine, who gives the role of Simon his all as we watch the character go about his adventures through the hip post-1960s USA. His "Magnetic, Charge, Electric!" ritual is pretty damn entertaining.

A sort of stream of consciousness movie with a slight plot, "Simon: King of the Witches" barely qualifies as a horror film, although it is supernatural and things do get pretty violent and destructive toward the end. Designated for fans of Something Weird Video titles, this film made its way to DVD courtesy of Dark Sky Films, which delivered a stunning transfer.

Recommended for fans of groovy '60s and '70s, cult oddities. Director Kessler also directed some episodes of "The Monkees" TV series and the same '60s style kind of shows up in this offering.

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-- Review by Lucius Gore

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