Professor Montserrat (Boris Karloff) was once a renown and respected hypnotist, but that all ended 30 years ago after a scathing newspaper article destroyed his career. That doesn’t mean he hasn’t continued to hone his craft. By the time of London’s swinging ’60’s, he’s developed a method and a device to project his consciousness into the mind of another person, thereby experiencing all of their sensory input and, with effort, controlling their actions (what? you thought nobody came up with this idea until “Being John Malkovich”?). All he needs now is a willing test subject, which he finds in handsome young Mike (Ian Ogilvy). Jaded and bored with all the standard sex, drugs, and rock n’ roll, Mike is in the mood for something different. This trip won’t end so well, though, the Professor’s strings are pulled by his extremely bitter wife (Catherine Lacey). She’s never quite gotten over her husband’s fall from grace and she may have just found a new direction in which to channel her anger.
This film’s baggage derives primarily from its director, Michæl Reeves. A gifted director of English horror flicks, he only managed to finish three movies (this is the second) before dying of an accidental overdose of barbiturates and alcohol in 1969 at the age of 24. “Witchfinder General” starring Vincent Price was Reeves’ masterpiece and swan song, but “The Sorcerers” is nothing to sneeze at, either. Gritty and quite modern, this picture will not be confused with anything that came out of Hammer Studios during that era. Reeves was not prone to comic relief or the Shakespearian theatrics that mar other efforts of that decade. It’s dark and immediate. This may not quite be Scorcese, but it’s at least Richard Lester. Despite the music and the clothes, “The Sorcerers” dates itself only minimally. The same script could probably be shot today with very little change at all.
Strangely, only nine days before Michæl Reeves was found dead by his housekeeper, Karloff passed away at the age of 81. His glory days behind him, Boris spent his final years primarily crapping out (and I mean crapping out) cheap horror flicks that had little going for them but the aura surrounding their aging star, except for “The Sorcerers”. As least Reeves, in his short career, gave Karloff and the movie-going audience one last film for which the screen legend could be proud. Had the director outlived the actor by years instead of days, this film would have been considered a link between different generations of horror filmmakers. As it is, it’s a pretty good film.