Simon, King of the Witches
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|Simon, King of the Witches|
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Bruce Kessler|
|Produced by||Joe Solomon|
|Written by||Robert Phippeny|
|Music by||Stu Phillips|
|Cinematography||David L. Butler|
|Edited by||Renn Reynolds|
|Distributed by||Fanfare Films Inc.|
Simon, King of the Witches is a 1971 film directed by Bruce Kessler and starring Andrew Prine. Not technically a straight horror film as the title might suggest, it also falls in the realm of camp and psychedelia. It is considered a cult classic.
Simon Sinestrari (Andrew Prine), a cynical Ceremonial magician, is on a quest to become a god. Simon is living in a storm sewer, selling his charms and potions for money, when he is befriended by a young male prostitute named Turk (George Paulsin). Turk introduces Simon to his world of drugs, wild parties, and bizarre Satanic rituals featuring a goat and Andy Warhol star Ultra Violet. Death, freakouts and mayhem ensue, along with romance for Simon with the district attorney's vague daughter (Brenda Scott).
- Andrew Prine as Simon Sinestrari
- George Paulsin as Turk
- Brenda Scott as Linda
- Gerald York as Hercules
- Norman Burton as Rackum
- William Martel as Commissioner Davies
- Ray Galvin as Chief Boyle
- Art Hern as Mayor
- Ultra Violet as Sarah
- Harry Rose as Landlord
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The misleading advertising campaign, which set up Simon as a Satanic sex orgy film cashing in on the Charles Manson trials, seriously hurt the film at the box office. The film is practically bloodless, with only brief nudity (which, again against the norm, actually serves a purpose in the story) but no explicit sex and no parallels whatsoever with Manson. Like many other more eccentric 1970s low budget genre films, Simon has become a cult film over the years, albeit an extremely marginal one.
There was also a paperback novelization of Simon by Baldwin Hills, more than likely a pen name, which took the satirical camp of the film one step further into full-on absurd comedy. Long since out of print, the book comes up occasionally on eBay and online used book stores.
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Ian Jane from DVD Talk gave the film a positive review, writing, “Simon King Of The Witches is a wild mix of seventies psychedelics and occult quirk that makes for a truly quirky watch. Andrew Prine is great in the lead and the film might work better as a cultural artifact than an actual horror picture but regardless, it remains an interesting and well-made movie”  Charles Tatum from eFilmCritic.com awarded the film one out of five stars, writing, “This film tries to be serious, almost like an expose, but it fails miserably. It is often funny, without meaning to be. "Simon, King of the Witches" is all smoke and mirrors. I do not recommend it.”  Jason Coffman from Film Monthly.com gave the film a positive review, writing, “Simon, King of the Witches is an entertaining film and an interesting time capsule of very early 1970s culture. The hippies and the squares in the film mingle uneasily, most notably a pair of bumbling drug dealers who keep Hercules’s parties swinging while police officials play parlor games. It’s great that Dark Sky has given the film a proper release, and it’s worth tracking down for Andrew Prine’s performance alone. It might not be a lost genre-defining masterpiece, but it is a gem that deserves to be seen.”
- Gods In Polyester: A Survivors' Account Of 70's Cinema Obscura ISBN 90-808700-1-3 features a chapter by Bruce Kessler on the making of Simon.
- "Simon, King of the Witches". darkskyfilms.com. Retrieved 2011-03-31.
- Jane, Ian. "Simon, King of the Witches : DVD Talk Review of the DVD Video". DVD Talk.com. Ian Jane. Retrieved 2 December 2017.
- Tatum, Charles. "Movie Review - Simon, King of the Witches - eFilmCritic". eFilmCritic.com. Charles Tatum. Retrieved 2 December 2017.
- Coffman, Jason. "Film Monthly.com – Simon, King of the Witches (1971)". Film Monthly.com. Jason Coffman. Retrieved 2 December 2017.