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The Brotherhood of Satan(1971)
A family is trapped in a desert town by a cult of senior-citizens who recruit the town's children to worship Satan.
For more about The Brotherhood of Satan and the The Brotherhood of Satan Blu-ray release, see the The Brotherhood of Satan Blu-ray Review published by Martin Liebman on May 22, 2013 where this Blu-ray release scored 2.0 out of 5.
Starring: Strother Martin, L.Q. Jones, Charles Bateman, Ahna Capri, Charles Robinson (III)
Director: Bernard McEveety
» See full cast & crew
The Brotherhood of Satan Blu-ray Review
The Brotherhood of Boredom.
Reviewed by Martin Liebman, May 22, 2013
Don't any of you go outside.
It was all fun and games and normal life until the Brotherhood of Satan showed up. Those pesky devil worshipers, always making a mess of things on God's green earth. And a mighty fine mess they make in the movie named for them, a lame early 1970s fright flick about a bunch of old folks who should be knitting in the retirement home or bouncing grand baby Jane on their knees but who are instead up to devilish misdeeds in an effort to take over the souls of the local youth. Or something. So that's how kids get so corrupted, so quickly, these days. Who knew? The Brotherhood of Satan is a soulless picture, unwelcoming and one in which audiences will find little reason for faith or praise. It's slow, not at all interesting, and another in a long line of "Devil Worship" movies that are cinematically unholy and that fans will want to exorcise from their minds even before it's over.
A young couple -- Ben (Charles Bateman) and Nicky (Ahna Capri), along with Ben's daughter K.T. (Geri Reischl) -- is traveling through an unassuming small town stretch when they come upon a terrible scene. A car has been completely overrun by a tank, smashing its metallic body and squishing the occupants inside. Little do they know that they're witness to the aftermath of a terrible ritual carried out by a local satanic cult. When Ben and Nicky attempt to report their finings to the local authorities, they find themselves ensnared in a dangerous situation. They cannot leave town and soon became prisoners and pawns in a terrible game where the very souls of children -- including Ben's own -- are at stake. It turns out the satanists are older citizens hoping to channel younger individuals for their own terrible gain, and they are able to manipulate children's toys to do their bidding.
"Painfully slow" best describes the movie's beginning. Shoot, it also decries the middle and end, too. Remember that old movie Manos: The Hands of Fate that now enjoys something of a major cult status thanks to an ingenious episode of Mystery Science Theater 3000? In it, there's a really, really, realllllllyyyyy long go-nowhere family driving sequence. In The Brotherhood of Satan, there's also, most unfortunately, a really, really, realllllllyyyyy long go-nowhere family driving sequence. Both movies also have something to do with the occult, or the devil, or some kind of nefarious and unholy doings behind the scenes. And they both stink. Certainly there's a little more depth, polish, and story structure in Brotherhood, not to mention a bit more star power -- Strother Martin and L.Q. Jones may not be household names, but they were in The Wild Bunch among a few other good films -- but unfortunately that means, in this case, that the movie is elevated from "total train wreck" to just "bad." And boring. Can't say that enough. It's boooooring.
Never does the film make the audience really care about the story, largely because, one, the plot isn't laid out too cleanly, and two, the characters are not necessarily unsympathetic but rather poorly developed and completely forgettable. What were their names again? The film fails to create even a smidgen of a reason to care, and never does it give the audience reason to emotionally invest in the story. It feels like it never goes anywhere, just revolving around in circles with scenes that add little, if anything, to the plot. It does reveal a decent bit of atmosphere in a couple of scenes, albeit in largely generic fashion. The satanic ritual chamber, or whatever it is, occasionally yields a mild sense of discomfort. The plot details are slightly unique, though mostly the film will only help the viewer to recall other small town-gone-haywire devil-included movies like The Children of the Corn. The performances are flat, thanks more to a flatter script than bad actors. There are a couple of interesting and intense scenes, but the movie peaks with the tank at the beginning, even though it's cut in such a way that it makes almost no sense. In short, this is a pretty bad movie.
The Brotherhood of Satan Blu-ray, Video Quality
Mill Creek's high definition presentation of The Brotherhood of Satan is the unequivocal highlight of the release. While certainly not a perfect, stunning transfer, it's certainly balanced and handsome, film-like and with only a few forgivable flaws. Light grain remains over the top and aids in creating a pleasing, albeit basic, film texturing. That's not to mention the absence of significant scrubbing, which leaves the film's rather nice details intact. This is a sharp, usually well-defined image that shows everything from cracked paint and concrete down vegetation and terrain with ease. Facial and clothing details, too, are completely satisfying. Colors are fine, not particularly vibrant but not dulled, either. There's a nice middle ground here that displays a wide palette with no bleeding or any sense of artificialness about it. Black levels and flesh tones are fine. There are some sporadic white speckles, but nothing too concerning. Given the low budget nature of the film, its age, and the Blu-ray disc's status as a bargain release, this is just about a best-case scenario for the film under the circumstances.
The Brotherhood of Satan Blu-ray, Audio Quality
The Brotherhood of Satan features a terribly bland and front-center dominant DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 lossless soundtrack. The weakness is evident from the start as the tank "rumbles" over the car with the sonic force of a fuzzy radio station barely coming in at low volume. The track makes use of the bare minimum in clarity and power and often sounds detached from the film. Whether big, should-be aggressive sounds like that tank or light ambience like a small crackling fire, there's no life, minimal presence, and only the basic sound signature of most every sound element. Dialogue is uneven and clunky, though generally more focused and clear than any surrounding sound elements. Nevertheless, the din of screaming children at a birthday party or an angry mob later in the movie come across as disjointed and lacking anything resembling reality. The track does find the rare moment when things nearly pass for acceptable; distant thunder and buzzing insects in the background of a scene in chapter four don't sound awful, at least in context. Then again, more dominant thunder comes across almost digitally, with no sense of accuracy. This is a completely forgettable track, though certainly attached to a movie that probably didn't enjoy top-notch sound engineering to begin with, anyway.
The Brotherhood of Satan Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
This Mill Creek Home Entertainment Blu-ray release of The Brotherhood of Satan contains no supplemental content.
The Brotherhood of Satan Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
The Brotherhood of Satan certainly isn't the worst movie ever made, but it's pretty far down the list. Decent production values can't mask a slow pace, a terrible script, forgettable acting, and a plot that, while it has its moments, doesn't go much of anywhere, and worse, doesn't always make a whole lot of sense. It's a plodding experience all-around, certainly not the kind of movie to watch other than on a sick day when sleeping through three quarters of it won't matter. Mill Creek's Blu-ray release of The Brotherhood of Satan does offer solid video. Bland audio and no supplements don't add any selling points. Skip it.
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