Movie Review: Simon, King of the Witches

(1971)
Directed by Bruce Kessler
Starring Andrew Prine, Brenda Scott, George Paulsin, Norman Burton, Gerald York, Ultra Violet

Back in the early days of VHS, finding a copy of this film was pretty damn tough. It had been released on VHS but was a very rare title if you happened upon it. Plus, the print was so dark and grainy that in many of the scenes you had no idea what was going on because it was pretty much black. But it was one of those cult titles that us film geeks had to seek out. Plus, because it starred Andrew Prine, that made it even more of a treasure to find. Thankfully, when Dark Sky Films released it on DVD, the print was a HUGE improvement where you could actually watch the entire film!

This is, however, a very odd, mixed bag of tricks, mainly because it doesn’t really fit into one particular genre. There are elements of horror and the supernatural, but also some dark comedy, all thrown into an early ‘70s hippie-druggie style drama. If anything, that would be the film’s biggest flaw, in that it wasn’t sure what it wanted to be. Or that it did, but then tried to fit into a few other sub-genres to help sell it. But no matter what, I’ve always found this to be pretty entertaining. Granted, this is mainly due to the star of the film, Andrew Prine, who is always amazing onscreen. This character of Simon that he plays is strange and strong enough to draw you into the film. Maybe casting a spell on the viewer???

Prine stars as a modern-day warlock who, when we first meet him, lives in the storm drain. He really believes that he is a magician who knows great power. He makes his living by doing tarot readings, selling charms, and trinkets. After making a friend while doing some time in jail for vagrancy, he is invited to a party with a slightly richer cliental. He impresses the host enough to be invited back, though not too many people there believe that Simon is actually anything more than a trickster or con artist.

The film, according to Prine, “Simon was written by a practicing warlock, and he was dead serious about being a warlock. He had a coven of witches and the movie that he wrote was based upon a part of his life. He was making money at Hollywood parties, doing what he called ‘fakery’. And that supported he real motives of which were to conjure up ‘witching’ powers. This guy was not kidding. He was a fascinating character.”

I think one of the strong points that I enjoyed about this is that it is more reality based, meaning that Simon isn’t some kind of fanciful and all-powerful witch, but more in a realistic approach to it. The guy lives in the sewers after all, and has very little, if any, money, but is always working on advancing his powers and abilities, even if we’re not sure what those might be. It is Prine’s charisma and presence, with his scruffy beard and wavy hair, that makes us not only believe that he thinks that he’s a real warlock, but that he just might have these powers after all.

As Simon makes his way more into this group of rich socialites, he continues his own agenda of advancing his magical and mystical powers. But along the way, he attracts the attention of a young pill-popping girl, who just happens to be the daughter of the District Attorney!

So yes, this isn’t technically a horror film, but if you’re a fan of ‘70s exploitation and the occult, as well of Mr. Prine, then I think there is more than enough in here to hold your attention!

One thought on “Movie Review: Simon, King of the Witches

  1. I remember seeing this film when it came out. The print was very dark, and this was a theatrical print. Also, the story did “loop” around. That said, I still recall the film fondly 🙂 Thanks for the review!

    Liked by 1 person

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