Michael Reeves, English Director

Michael Reeves, Director

After watching “The Sorcerer,” a movie by the visionary but hopelessly depressed English filmmaker Michael Reeves I was surprised and satisfied in the same way as when I watched Montgomery Clift’s last film, The Defector. Intrigued by an obtuse story featuring quality acting and capturing the euro-sixties these two films have much in common in the presentation of modern mind control. To my discouragement, Reeves only directed 3 features; She-Beast, The Sorcerer and Witchfinder General. He also did a student short you can see on Youtube, an assistant director credit and a screenplay for The Oblong Box, presumably his next feature. So there is not much to indulge in, only to wallow in what could have been. I remember as a pre-teen being attracted to a certain kind of horror film (vampires, blood and babes) at theaters or drive-ins; Mark of the Devil, Tower of Evil and of course, Witchfinder General. Not caring so much about direction, lighting or production values (neither were some of the producers at times), I was into the gothic period pieces, costumes that showcased plunging necklines, ostentatious hair-dos and of course the gnarly mouths with crazy teeth, blood dripping and the violent one-upmanship between good vs. evil. I recognized Vincent Price (an American in London), Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing but I preferred my rogue monsters, chambermaid seducers and innocent victims to be more anonymous. Hence, my fondness for British Horror; I didn’t recognize many of the actors by name; only by trope and circumstance. If he hadn’t over-dosed in his mid-twenties I imagine Michael Reeves film work would eventually transition into the Brit-Grit genre of the 70’s and slowly widen into pre-CG blockbusters to be resolved in retrospective period pieces and return to strident indie character driven films. Witchfinder General in particular is worth multiple viewings and makes anyone interested in these kinds of film feel deprived by someone’s potential and untimely demise.

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