The Brotherhood of Satan


1h 32m 1971
The Brotherhood of Satan

Brief Synopsis

A vacationing family is trapped in the desert by aging devil worshippers.

Film Details

Also Known As
Come In, Children
MPAA Rating
Genre
Horror
Release Date
Aug 1971
Premiere Information
New York opening: 6 Aug 1971
Production Company
First LQJ Corp.;
Distribution Company
Four Star-Excelsior Releasing Company
Country
United States
Location
Hillsboro, New Mexico, United States

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 32m
Sound
Mono
Color
Color (Technicolor)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
2.35 : 1

Synopsis

While driving through a deserted stretch of land in the Southwest, Ben Holden, his little daughter K.T. and his girl friend Nicky spot a demolished car that has run off the road. Ben speeds to the nearest town, Hillsboro, to report the accident, but upon arriving, finds the townspeople barricaded in their houses, paralyzed by fear. Pete, the town sheriff, suddenly appears, and at gunpoint, throws Ben against his car and begins to interrogate him. After ascertaining that Ben has stopped in town to report an accident, Pete releases him, drawing the townspeople out of their houses. When one of them, Mike, runs at Ben with an axe, Ben jumps into his car and speeds off. Unknown to Ben, the town is on edge because twenty-six people have met grizzly deaths within the past seventy-two hours, and members of Mike's family have been among them. Pete, his deputy Tobey and Doc Duncan, who has recently retired to Hillsboro because of his heart condition, drive out to the wreckage and discover that the car's occupants have been crushed, with the exception of Timmy, the family's young son, who is now missing. Meanwhile, as Ben drives down the highway, he suddenly sees a young girl standing in the middle of the road, and while trying to avoid her, runs off the road, incapacitating his car. With no other choice, Ben, Nicky and K.T. turn around and walk back to town. Later, in Hillsboro, Ed Meadows returns to his house, and upon finding his son Stuart and daughter playing in the yard, hurries the children inside and chastises his wife Mildred for allowing the children outdoors. After Ed reveals to Mildred that he has learned her sister and her children have been in a deadly accident, the family, shaken, recites grace at the dinner table. That night, at the old, abandoned Barry house on the hill, several elderly people approach the door and are beckoned in by Doc, who in reality is the head of a coven of witches. The twelve elders who enter are also members of the coven, and later at the gathering, after pledging allegiance to Satan, marvel at a series of pedestals on which are standing the children destined to assume the witches' spirits. Later, as Ed is reading the bible to Mildred, their daughter's doll suddenly appears in the middle of the room, after which both adults die violent deaths. Stuart and his sister then join a group of children who are waiting for them outside and escort them to the old Barry place where they are welcomed by Doc. Soon after, Ben, K.T. and Nicky reach the Meadows house and find the dead bodies. The Meadows' bodies are taken to a meat locker where the rest of the town's dead have been deposited to be blessed by Jack, the town's priest. Ben and his family go to the sheriff's house to spend the night, and soon after, Doc comes to visit. When Pete ponders why Ben and his family have managed to enter Hillsboro while no one else has been able to enter or leave town, the priest suggests that malevolent forces are at work. Doc scoffs at Jack's theory and suggest that everyone get some sleep. Later, while pouring over books containing drawings of devil worship, Jack notices a preponderance of children's images. When Nicky wakes up screaming from a frightening nightmare, Ben announces that they are leaving. Although Pete doubts that Ben will actually be able to leave, he tosses him a set of car keys. On the drive out of town, one of the car's tire goes flat, and after stopping the car, Ben and Nicky turn around and realize that K.T. had slipped out of the backseat when they were not looking. K.T. joins the other children at the Barry house, where they play with party favors set out along a table, over which hangs murals of slain children and black-cloaked figures. When Ben and Nicky report K.T.'s disappearance, Jack announces that the witches took her. Producing a list of eleven missing children from the ages of six to nine, Jack explains that a coven of witches consists of thirteen people. He continues that the town was short of one female child, which is why K.T. was recruited, then warns that only four more boys of that age group remain, and that one of them will disappear next. Arming themselves with rifles, Tobey, Doc, Ben and Pete spread out to protect the houses of the four boys. At Mike's house, Mike sleeps as his little son Joey walks out of the house and into the woods in a trance-like state. Upon awakening, Mike notices that Joey is gone and follows him into the woods, where an armored horseman gallops by and beheads Mike. Jack follows Mike, and upon witnessing the beheading goes insane and wanders back to Ben and the others. After procuring one child for each witch, Doc approaches the altar to entreat Satan to connect a bridge between the dead and the living so that the elderly witches can cross over into the children's bodies. The witches then take their places beside the children standing on the pedestals. After finding Mike's headless body, Ben, Tobey and Pete, with Jack raving in the backseat of the car, drive up the road and notice the old Barry place on the hill. Upon searching the area, Pete finds a figure of a toy horseman, his lance covered with blood, and when Jack sees the figure, he screams in horror. Realizing that Jack was right, they break into the house, but are too late because the witches have all perished by blows meted out to them by a fiery sword, their spirits crossing over into the children. By the time Ben, Pete and Tobey break down the door to the room in which the ceremony was held, the witches and altar have disappeared and the room has reverted back into a dusty ruin. Around the cob-webbed covered party table stand the group of missing children.

Film Details

Also Known As
Come In, Children
MPAA Rating
Genre
Horror
Release Date
Aug 1971
Premiere Information
New York opening: 6 Aug 1971
Production Company
First LQJ Corp.;
Distribution Company
Four Star-Excelsior Releasing Company
Country
United States
Location
Hillsboro, New Mexico, United States

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 32m
Sound
Mono
Color
Color (Technicolor)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
2.35 : 1

Articles

The Brotherhood of Satan


Vintage '70s Ameri-horror-cana at its most grubbily disturbing, Bernard McEveety's The Brotherhood of Satan (1971) was intended for adult audiences but invariably wormed its way down the film distribution chain to unsuspecting kiddie matinees, where its depiction of a physical world turned inside out by Devil worship warped a generation of impressionable young minds. The film's first and second acts seem indebted to John Sturges' Bad Day at Black Rock (1955) and Roman Polanski's Rosemary's Baby (1968), respectively, but the subplot of soul transference by which members of a senior citizen Satan cult plan to shoehorn their corrupt souls into the fresh bodies of young children bears a Luciferian likeness to The Mephisto Waltz (1971), released earlier in the year. Offsetting its Gothic blandishments with a dusty desert milieu, Brotherhood kicked off a mini-vogue for shockers utilizing the American Southwest as a crucible for the war between Good and Evil, among them Enter the Devil (1972), Race with the Devil (1975) and The Devil's Rain (1975).

Top to tails, The Brotherhood of Satan gets better mileage out of its smaller moments (God fearing folk asphyxiating in their Barcaloungers, a small town ice house filling up with the recent dead, an infernal birthday party complete with black-frosted red velvet cake) than it does in its big setpieces but those bits add up to a palpable atmosphere of dread and disgust. In his August 7, 1971 New York Times review, Roger Greenspun praised the film's "uncomplicated acceptance of its supernature," which he felt was "the essence of fantasy moviemaking" and noted "some wonderfully spooky scenes...in which nothing quite happens and which are the most terrifying moments in The Brotherhood of Satan."

Working with an obvious limited budget but a wealth of weirdness, Hollywood character actors turned independent producers L.Q. Jones and Alvy Moore scored a casting coup when Strother Martin signed on for the pivotal role of a backwater sawbones who does double duty as the head of the local devil cult. The Kokomo, Indiana-born actor (who started out in Hollywood as a swimming instructor to the stars) was certainly comfortable in a western setting, albeit more often as unreliable frontier businessmen, apoplectic civil servants and degenerate lawbreakers. (Longtime Sam Peckinpah stock players, Martin and Jones first appeared together onscreen in the 1955 Warner Brothers Korean War drama Target Zero [1955] but are perhaps most memorable as the grungy bounty hunters of Peckinpah's The Wild Bunch [1969].) Despite an early bit in the Curt Siodmak-scripted The Magnetic Monster (1953), Strother Martin's spookshow appearances were few and far between. However out of his element he may have felt here, Martin was clearly relishing the opportunity to cut loose, never content to chew scenery he could otherwise bite whole chunks from. As the earthly helpmeet of the Prince of Darkness (whom he addresses as "Dear One"), the actor even strips down for a fleeting moment of all-but-full-frontal nudity.

Following The Brotherhood of Satan, Martin played a mad scientist who turns hunky Dirk Benedict into a king cobra in SSSSSSS (1973). He also turned up in the bat attack thriller Nightwing (1979) shortly before his untimely death from heart failure in 1980.

As a jobbing actor specializing in rural types of debatable intelligence and moral fiber, L.Q. Jones (born Justus Ellis McQueen, Jr., in Beaumont, Texas, he took his stage name from the part he played in Raoul Walsh's Battle Cry, 1955) had to take whatever work was offered. As a writer/director/producer, however, Jones demanded greater job satisfaction. Turning down well-paying offers to direct projects in which he had no interest, Jones preferred to scrape together his own budgets to make his own kind of films. He studied books on witchcraft and the occult to write The Witchmaker (1969), which he handed over to director William O. Brown (later the author of the early independent film primer Low Budget Features). The Brotherhood of Satan was the third go-round for Jones and producing partner Alvy Moore. (The pair had first acted together in Don Siegel's An Annapolis Story in 1955, an Allied Artists picture on which Sam Peckinpah served as dialogue coach.)

A World War II veteran and Iwo Jima survivor who took advantage of the GI Bill to study acting at the Pasadena Playhouse, Jack Alvin Moore carved out his own industry niche with his energetic portrayals of well-meaning but ultimately ineffectual schlemiels and is best remembered for playing absent minded county agent Hank Kimball for six seasons on the CBS sitcom Green Acres. Jones and Moore would score a cult hit with their next project, the Hugo Award-winning post-apocalyptic sci-fi satire A Boy and His Dog (1975), based on the book by Harlan Ellison.

In support of headliner Strother Martin are a number of familiar 70s faces with resumes rich in television credits. Leading lady Ahna Capri would go on to plum roles in the Bruce Lee vehicle Enter the Dragon (1973) and in the cult favorite Payday (1973) with Rip Torn but was reduced to bit parts by the end of the decade. The bland good looks of Capri's costar Charles Bateman (who bears a passing resemblance to the late American president John F. Kennedy) kept him busy on the small screen but he was strictly a walk-on in films; the following year he appeared briefly as the ill-fated first officer of Irwin Allen's The Poseidon Adventure (1972).

Anthony Perkins look-alike Charles Robinson got his start in show business in a deuce of James Stewart comedies at Fox and as one of the legendary actor's sons in the Civil War tragedy Shenandoah (1965) at Universal. A few additional high profile films followed (he co-starred with Steve McQueen in The Sand Pebbles [1966]) but this early promise went largely unfulfilled as Robinson job-hopped from one weekly TV series to another.

Child actor Geri Reischl was by the age of eleven a seasoned professional, a singer and commercial actress. She was reportedly one of several girls short-listed for the role of Regan in The Exorcist (1973) and later gained a kind of cult immortality as "Fake Jan" when she was hired to replace Eve Plumb as Jan Brady for the short run of The Brady Bunch Hour, a variety show spin-off of The Brady Bunch.

Producers: L.Q. Jones, Alvy Moore
Director: Bernard McEveety
Screenplay: L.Q. Jones, William Welch; Sean MacGregor (story)
Cinematography: John Arthur Morrill
Art Direction: Ray Boyle (production design)
Music: Jaime Mendoza-Nava
Film Editing: Marvin Walowitz
Cast: Strother Martin (Doc Duncan), L.Q. Jones (Sheriff), Charles Bateman (Ben), Ahna Capri (Nicky), Charles Robinson (Priest), Alvy Moore (Tobey), Geri Reischl (KT).
C-92m. Letterboxed. Closed captioning.

by Richard Harland Smith

Sources:
L. Q. Jones interview by Justin Humphreys, Psychotronic Video issues 21-22, 1995
L.Q. Jones interview by Rusty White, Entertainment Insiders, 2003
L.Q. Jones interview by John C. Snyder, www.SciFiDimensions.com, 2003
L.Q. Jones interview by Matthew Hays, Montreal Mirror 2003
The Official Geri Reischl Website
Low Budget Features by William O. Brown
The Brotherhood Of Satan

The Brotherhood of Satan

Vintage '70s Ameri-horror-cana at its most grubbily disturbing, Bernard McEveety's The Brotherhood of Satan (1971) was intended for adult audiences but invariably wormed its way down the film distribution chain to unsuspecting kiddie matinees, where its depiction of a physical world turned inside out by Devil worship warped a generation of impressionable young minds. The film's first and second acts seem indebted to John Sturges' Bad Day at Black Rock (1955) and Roman Polanski's Rosemary's Baby (1968), respectively, but the subplot of soul transference by which members of a senior citizen Satan cult plan to shoehorn their corrupt souls into the fresh bodies of young children bears a Luciferian likeness to The Mephisto Waltz (1971), released earlier in the year. Offsetting its Gothic blandishments with a dusty desert milieu, Brotherhood kicked off a mini-vogue for shockers utilizing the American Southwest as a crucible for the war between Good and Evil, among them Enter the Devil (1972), Race with the Devil (1975) and The Devil's Rain (1975). Top to tails, The Brotherhood of Satan gets better mileage out of its smaller moments (God fearing folk asphyxiating in their Barcaloungers, a small town ice house filling up with the recent dead, an infernal birthday party complete with black-frosted red velvet cake) than it does in its big setpieces but those bits add up to a palpable atmosphere of dread and disgust. In his August 7, 1971 New York Times review, Roger Greenspun praised the film's "uncomplicated acceptance of its supernature," which he felt was "the essence of fantasy moviemaking" and noted "some wonderfully spooky scenes...in which nothing quite happens and which are the most terrifying moments in The Brotherhood of Satan." Working with an obvious limited budget but a wealth of weirdness, Hollywood character actors turned independent producers L.Q. Jones and Alvy Moore scored a casting coup when Strother Martin signed on for the pivotal role of a backwater sawbones who does double duty as the head of the local devil cult. The Kokomo, Indiana-born actor (who started out in Hollywood as a swimming instructor to the stars) was certainly comfortable in a western setting, albeit more often as unreliable frontier businessmen, apoplectic civil servants and degenerate lawbreakers. (Longtime Sam Peckinpah stock players, Martin and Jones first appeared together onscreen in the 1955 Warner Brothers Korean War drama Target Zero [1955] but are perhaps most memorable as the grungy bounty hunters of Peckinpah's The Wild Bunch [1969].) Despite an early bit in the Curt Siodmak-scripted The Magnetic Monster (1953), Strother Martin's spookshow appearances were few and far between. However out of his element he may have felt here, Martin was clearly relishing the opportunity to cut loose, never content to chew scenery he could otherwise bite whole chunks from. As the earthly helpmeet of the Prince of Darkness (whom he addresses as "Dear One"), the actor even strips down for a fleeting moment of all-but-full-frontal nudity. Following The Brotherhood of Satan, Martin played a mad scientist who turns hunky Dirk Benedict into a king cobra in SSSSSSS (1973). He also turned up in the bat attack thriller Nightwing (1979) shortly before his untimely death from heart failure in 1980. As a jobbing actor specializing in rural types of debatable intelligence and moral fiber, L.Q. Jones (born Justus Ellis McQueen, Jr., in Beaumont, Texas, he took his stage name from the part he played in Raoul Walsh's Battle Cry, 1955) had to take whatever work was offered. As a writer/director/producer, however, Jones demanded greater job satisfaction. Turning down well-paying offers to direct projects in which he had no interest, Jones preferred to scrape together his own budgets to make his own kind of films. He studied books on witchcraft and the occult to write The Witchmaker (1969), which he handed over to director William O. Brown (later the author of the early independent film primer Low Budget Features). The Brotherhood of Satan was the third go-round for Jones and producing partner Alvy Moore. (The pair had first acted together in Don Siegel's An Annapolis Story in 1955, an Allied Artists picture on which Sam Peckinpah served as dialogue coach.) A World War II veteran and Iwo Jima survivor who took advantage of the GI Bill to study acting at the Pasadena Playhouse, Jack Alvin Moore carved out his own industry niche with his energetic portrayals of well-meaning but ultimately ineffectual schlemiels and is best remembered for playing absent minded county agent Hank Kimball for six seasons on the CBS sitcom Green Acres. Jones and Moore would score a cult hit with their next project, the Hugo Award-winning post-apocalyptic sci-fi satire A Boy and His Dog (1975), based on the book by Harlan Ellison. In support of headliner Strother Martin are a number of familiar 70s faces with resumes rich in television credits. Leading lady Ahna Capri would go on to plum roles in the Bruce Lee vehicle Enter the Dragon (1973) and in the cult favorite Payday (1973) with Rip Torn but was reduced to bit parts by the end of the decade. The bland good looks of Capri's costar Charles Bateman (who bears a passing resemblance to the late American president John F. Kennedy) kept him busy on the small screen but he was strictly a walk-on in films; the following year he appeared briefly as the ill-fated first officer of Irwin Allen's The Poseidon Adventure (1972). Anthony Perkins look-alike Charles Robinson got his start in show business in a deuce of James Stewart comedies at Fox and as one of the legendary actor's sons in the Civil War tragedy Shenandoah (1965) at Universal. A few additional high profile films followed (he co-starred with Steve McQueen in The Sand Pebbles [1966]) but this early promise went largely unfulfilled as Robinson job-hopped from one weekly TV series to another. Child actor Geri Reischl was by the age of eleven a seasoned professional, a singer and commercial actress. She was reportedly one of several girls short-listed for the role of Regan in The Exorcist (1973) and later gained a kind of cult immortality as "Fake Jan" when she was hired to replace Eve Plumb as Jan Brady for the short run of The Brady Bunch Hour, a variety show spin-off of The Brady Bunch. Producers: L.Q. Jones, Alvy Moore Director: Bernard McEveety Screenplay: L.Q. Jones, William Welch; Sean MacGregor (story) Cinematography: John Arthur Morrill Art Direction: Ray Boyle (production design) Music: Jaime Mendoza-Nava Film Editing: Marvin Walowitz Cast: Strother Martin (Doc Duncan), L.Q. Jones (Sheriff), Charles Bateman (Ben), Ahna Capri (Nicky), Charles Robinson (Priest), Alvy Moore (Tobey), Geri Reischl (KT). C-92m. Letterboxed. Closed captioning. by Richard Harland Smith Sources: L. Q. Jones interview by Justin Humphreys, Psychotronic Video issues 21-22, 1995 L.Q. Jones interview by Rusty White, Entertainment Insiders, 2003 L.Q. Jones interview by John C. Snyder, www.SciFiDimensions.com, 2003 L.Q. Jones interview by Matthew Hays, Montreal Mirror 2003 The Official Geri Reischl Website Low Budget Features by William O. Brown

Quotes

Trivia

Notes

The working title of this film was Come In, Children. Before the opening credits roll, a toy tank dissolves into a life-size version, after which it attack a car, then smashes it under its tires. "Timmy," a little boy, then walks out of the wreckage, picks up the tank, which has returned to its toy-size, and is greeted by a group of children. When the little girl in the group holds out her hand to Timmy, an aura surrounds her image, after which the film's title and credits appear. The first eight-and-a-half minutes of the film contains no dialogue.
       Although Hollywood Reporter production charts noted that the film's color process was Colorvision, onscreen credits list the color process as Technicolor. A Hollywood Reporter production chart places Tom Hunter in the cast, but his appearance in the released film has not been confirmed. Filmfacts noted that some location filming was done in Hillsboro, NM.
       According to publicity material contained in the film's production file at the AMPAS Library, "LQJAF" is an acronym for L. Q. Jones and Friends. The title "Nepotist" listed in the onscreen credits refer to Barry Moore, the son of producer Alvy Moore, and Randy McQueen, the son of producer-star L.Q. Jones, who, according to studio publicity, both worked on the film's crew. Several other relatives of the crew also worked on the film: Moore's daughter Alyson and mother Elsie appeared as a little girl and one of the witches, respectively. Director Bernard McEveety's children Shelia, Kevin and Brian appeared as three of the children. The Brotherhood of Satan marked the motion picture debut of Geri Reischl.

Miscellaneous Notes

Released in United States 1970

Scope

Released in United States 1970