Land of the Minotaur Reviews
Better than you might expect horror outing about a small Greek village succumbing to the old, Pagan ways and keeping alive the cult of the Minotaur, in this case a statue of a bull that shoots out flames from its nostrils and apparently speaks independent of any moving mouth. Young, crazy "kids" have been disappearing after they go searching for the site of the Minotaur. Father Roche( a Catholic priest living inexplicably in a remote part of Greek Orthodox country)has his suspicions that evil forces are at work and warns a group of teen travelers to stay away from the site. They ignore him and disappear. Soon Roche calls for a friendly detective from New York, who along with the girlfriend of one of the missing guys, aids Roche in discovering the secrets of the village and the nature of the evil. What makes this highly implausible, totally absurd story work is the acting. Pleasance is a very underrated actor and is able to make the most of his Van Helsing type role - battling the forces of evil and having a sort of sixth sense about it. Veteran horror icon Peter Cushing plays the bad guy, here a Baron Corofax from Carpathia, with his usual charm, grace, and stoicism. Cushing and Pleasance give very good turns in their roles and raise this film above the mire. As for the rest of the cast - don't expect too much. They are for the most part all Greek as this is a Greek production and directed by Costas Karagiannis. There are; however, two beautiful blondes that wear the shortest shorts possible - Luann Peters and Vanna Reville. Both are very attractive, but cleavage(from both ends) aside - their acting is only adequate at best. Costas does do some things very nicely. He creates some tension in the village by creating a sense that everyone is against the threesome. The scenes in the cave with Cushing presiding over sacrifices are pretty eerie until the bull shows up. By no means is this a great film, but Cushing and Pleasance show once again that good, solid acting can overcome most obstacles. 2 1/2 Stars 9-2-13
THE DEVIL'S MEN/ LAND OF THE MINOTAUR : Starring Donald Pleasance & Peter Cushing in what can be called an honest let down to most diehard horror fans since SCREAM AND SCREAM AGAIN . The 1976 made film THE DEVIL'S MEN/ LAND OF THE MINOTAUR despite being shot in scenic Greece and the presence of two great actors, is a below average horror film.
PLOT: Somewhere in Greece Three archaeology students go searching for the site of an ancient Devil worshiping cult. Despite the heartfelt wishes of Father Roche (Pleasance), the group go and get sacrifice in horror movie fashion to the living devil cult of the Minotaur. The Father then enlists the help of a NYC PI and one of the victim's partners to help him find the group. Upon arriving in the village, suspicion soon points to the mysterious Baron Corofax (Cushing) and his followers.
THOUGHTS: Despite the decent performances by the always brilliant Donald Pleasance & Peter Cushing, and the shear fact it was filmed near some Ancient Greek Ruins; this film isn't without its drawbacks. With the over use of the zoom lens for no real purpose, and the awkward editing start to make it difficult to know what one is looking at. Despite the dull vibe throughout the film, there are some amusing moments in this film. For example the Minotaur isn't a species of a small Carnivorous Dinosaur as one would think with a name like "Minotaur", but it's just a statue of a humanoid Bull with blow torch nostrils. And also the way the satanic chants sound more like people gargling mouthwash than actual chanting; this films odd mix of dull and weird moments make it worthy of a 50% rating from me.
What we have is a group of archeologist hippies meet up with a priest (Donald Pleasance) in order to go study the ruins of a local castle in Greece. The kicker is that the castle is the home of a satanic cult who worships a Minotaur statue and soon our three hippies disappear. A girlfriend of one of the missing hippies arrives on site and our priest calls a detective friend from New York to come and press the local Baron (Peter Cushing) to see where the missing hippies are.
What I don't get is why would Satanists worship a statue of a Minotaur? The Minotaur in Greek mythology was never a "satanic" figure and it is none of the writings of Christian history. Very odd indeed. Our Minotaur statue also has the ability to talk with no mouth and blow flame through its nostrils. Ouuuuu....scary!
The main attraction of this film to horror film fans is that it has to seasoned actors of the genre with Donald Pleasance and Peter Cushing. Their appearance does aid the film but they seem underused and the dialogue is definitely not up to their usual caliber. It's almost humorous to hear Pleasance say such lines as "he was on the edge of death but it takes more than the force of an automobile to destroy them." The character's also have odd relationships. How do Pleasance and the detective from New York know each other? Despite Pleasance calling on him for help, he sure doesn't seem to like him too much and always criticizes his driving. Our detective even saves Pleasance's life by pushing him out of the way of a speeding car and he has the gall to say "Did you have to push me so hard!?" Some thanks! The rest of the cast is adequate and the two blonds in the cast are nice eye candy as they wear shorts so tight and short that they look like denim underwear.
With a cast like Donald Pleasance and Peter Cushing this film should have been far better than it is and the film feels like it's beneath their talents. Satanic cult horror films in the seventies were a dime a dozen it this is definitely not one of the best yet it at the same time it lacks the cheesy goodness of such trashy efforts like "The Devil's Rain." The film might be of minor interest for fans of 70s horror cinema or fans of Pleasance and Cushing otherwise horror fanatics are better off checking out Hammer's "The Devil Rides Out."