The explanations I’ve read on Wikipedia for “Simon, King of the Witches” insist that the obscure Andrew Prine movie is not meant to be taken seriously. It’s strictly dark comedy. But then you watch one of the most nonsensical unnecessary opening monologues ever filmed, and wonder if the writer himself was high while creating this genre confused tedious mess.
“I really am one of the few true magicians,” Simon insists in the opening, looking to the camera while declaring his affinity for magic, and aspirations to be a god. All of which is followed by the man being arrested for vagrancy while being hauled away from his home: a sewer. The character of Simon is also a very ill-conceived character, thanks to the scene chewing of Andrew Prine, whose dialogue is delivered with immense emphasis almost like a William Shatner impersonator. I’m usually a huge fan of almost anything coming out of the sixties that brings with it a psychedelic mirror of the decade, but I just wish “Simon King of the Witches” were more focused in its story, deciding whether or not to be a dramatic fantasy, a dark comedy, or just stern satire with a running in-joke that only the very well-versed grindhouse geek will get.
The premise of Simon striking back at the wealthy with his powers after being used and abused for his services is the type of anarchic narrative that would make for some gruesome entertainment. Instead, we get a male prostitute sidekick in a homoerotic friendship with our main character, Simon using his magic to bring the erection of his sidekick down, Simon marveling at rain falling, characters screaming into mirrors and much more assorted goofiness that I had an impossible time finishing.
As for the DVD, it’s an immaculate treatment which becomes the pre-requisite for Dark Sky, with a sharp picture, and wonderful sound. Among the extras are “Simon Says,” a sixteen minute interview with Andrew Prine that doesn’t seem to take the movie as seriously as we do. “Making White Magic” is the eleven minute interview with Bruce Kessler who contradicts Prine’s interview by taking his movie much too seriously, insisting it broke all taboos and exposed us to magical elements we’ve not yet seen. While it’s good to hear a director enthusiastic about his film, let’s not get crazy. There are also the Radio Spots, and the trailer to “Simon King of The Witches.”