Simon, King of the Witches


1h 27m 1971

Brief Synopsis

Cynical ceremonial magician Simon Sinestrari lives in a sewer where he sells charms and potions for a living and believes that he is going to become a god. Simon meets a male prostitute named Turk who introduces him to his world one of wild parties, drugs, and Wiccan rituals. Simon's exploration of

Film Details

MPAA Rating
R
Genre
Horror
Release Date
May 26, 1971
Premiere Information
World premiere in Los Angeles and Chicago: 19 May 1971
Production Company
Fanfare Film Productions, Inc.
Distribution Company
Fanfare Film Productions, Inc.
Country
United States

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 27m
Sound
Stereo
Color
Color (Eastmancolor)

Synopsis

Simon Sinestrari, a warlock and magician, lives in a city storm drain. One night, he is arrested for vagrancy and imprisoned with a naïve young hustler named Turk. After they receive suspended sentences, Simon allows the admiring Turk to come to his underground dwelling and Turk invites him to a party at the home of his wealthy friend Hercules Van Sent. Hercules immediately introduces Simon to the crowd as a warlock. Willing to capitalize on his talents, Simon announces that he will sell his magical services and sexual enhancements. Linda, the drug-addicted daughter of District Attorney Willard Rackum, is enraptured, and Hercules is amused enough by Simon to give him money in exchange for a promise to take care of Turk. Back at the storm drain, Turk brings Simon a hair from his beloved, a married woman, which Simon uses, along with Turk's "effluvium," to create a spell that will cause her to fall in love with Turk at the next full moon. Soon after, Simon performs a tarot card reading for a snide friend of Hercules, Colin. After Simon warns of danger ahead, Colin pays him with a bad check. Outside, Linda swoons at Simon's embrace, but as rain begins to fall, he races away to his storm drain, where he is just in time to witness all of his belongings being swept out to the ocean. With only his dagger left, he angrily vows to fight the gods until he becomes one of them. Simon then rents a basement room in order to transform it into a proper laboratory. He is setting up his space when the landlord returns with the police, stating that Colin's check, which Simon used to pay the rent, has bounced. Simon visits Hercules in a fury, but his new friend mocks him, daring him to use his so-called powers to balance the scales. Simon states that he will cause Colin's death within days, but that Hercules must carry half the blame. Returning to the drain with Turk, he builds a platform to keep his belongings safe from the water. That night, a red, pulsing circle of light awakens Turk, but Simon sends it away without explanation and the next day sacrifices a chicken in a dangerous ritual. Hours later, Colin sees a dog barking up at the red circle, and mesmerized by it, stands unmoving as a potted plant falls off a ledge onto his head, killing him. During that night's full moon, Turk is successful with his paramour and returns to find Simon moving back into the basement apartment. Simon sets up the space with an altar and huge oval mirror in which, he tells Turk, he can see or hear anyone or anything he desires. Later, Simon undresses Linda and chants an incantation, but before he can finish, he drops his dagger, breaking the spell. Disappointed, he determines to conquer magic through sin and lust, and makes love to her ecstatically. One day soon after, Turk races to Simon, announcing that his girl's husband took her away and now he has a painful, permanent erection. After Simon recites a spell to dissipate it, Linda shows up with Hercules, who is being terrorized by the red circle, and begs Simon to release him. After Simon does so, Hercules vows to introduce him to everyone important in town. Turk then brings Simon to a Wiccan coven in the city. Sarah, the queen, considers Simon inferior, but as she commences a ritual in which men are tied up while naked women dance with a goat, Simon interrupts, yelling at the men to stand and commanding the women to fly on broomsticks. As the coven turns on them in a fury, Turk pulls Simon outside to safety. At Hercules' next party, Simon meets police commissioner Dan Davies, who secretly supplies the town's drug dealers, including Shay and Troy. Turk, annoyed by the aggressive advances of a flamboyant gay man, urges Simon to curse the man. Suddenly Simon realizes that he must be aroused to be a successful warlock, but that perhaps violence can achieve the same result. To that end, he brings the man home and has him kneel before the mirror. The bored man submits to Simon's increasingly threatening chants, and suddenly a gold bar on the alter glows purple. Simon exults, knowing this talisman is now charged with a vital force that will help him gain entrance to the world of the gods. Later, he shows Turk a map that calculates time currents, stating that at 1:33 on a nearby date the gods will be unable to resist his thrust into their domain. Soon after, however, Davies sends his agents to seize Simon's belongings. Concluding that he has herbs rather than drugs, a lab worker finds himself afraid to touch the gold bar and returns it to Simon. Meanwhile, Linda's father orders her to stop seeing Simon, threatening to jail him if she refuses. Linda remains enchanted by Simon, however, and meets him in the woods, where he describes to her his plans to enter the world of the gods. After a brief conversation with a tree, Simon asks Linda not to take drugs during the week of his ritual, warning that he and anyone he loves will be open to attack by the gods. Pleased that he feels so close to her, she promises. On the day of Simon's ritual, Shay and Troy come to him with the news that Rackum is framing and arresting all area drug dealers in retaliation for Linda's ongoing involvement with Simon. They beg him to curse the corrupt narcotics agent, John Peter, but Simon refuses. However, after Turk warns him that Peter has planted drugs in Simon's apartment, they confer with Shay and Troy. Horrified to realize that the 1:33 deadline has passed, Simon plots with Shay and Troy to bring down Peter. Hoping to protect Turk, Simon sadly uses magic to break their bond. After Shay and Troy bring Peter to Simon and beat the policeman unconscious, Simon commands them to leave. Tying Peter to a pallet, he sacrifices him to Satan by stabbing him with his dagger. As Peter's body is swept out to sea, the police search for him and, eager to distance themselves from the corrupt agent, declare him under suspicion of corruption. Shay and Troy celebrate the news while Davies announces to the press that his office is investigating Rackum and setting aside all recent drug-related arrests. That night, the red circle appears to Simon and the gold bar once again glows purple. Climbing into the mirror, he sees Linda begging and Davies holding her in the palm of his hands. Awakening, Simon realizes that Linda has died of an overdose. Rackum visits, demanding to know where Linda procured her drugs, and Simon informs him that Davies is the ultimate source. Davies is arrested for drug possession and sales, and Rackum tells the press that every dealer in town will soon be behind bars. A panicked Shay and Troy call Simon, and when he refuses to answer, they search the city for him. Finding him as he runs through rain, they attack, begging him to fix the situation. He sees his demise in their eyes but declines to soothe them, prompting Troy to stab him to death with his dagger. As Simon collapses and the dagger explodes, Simon notes that death is only temporary.

Film Details

MPAA Rating
R
Genre
Horror
Release Date
May 26, 1971
Premiere Information
World premiere in Los Angeles and Chicago: 19 May 1971
Production Company
Fanfare Film Productions, Inc.
Distribution Company
Fanfare Film Productions, Inc.
Country
United States

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 27m
Sound
Stereo
Color
Color (Eastmancolor)

Quotes

Trivia

Notes

The film begins and ends with voice-over narration by Andrew Prine as "Simon Sinestrari." All credits other than the title and the name of executive producer Joe Solomon appear after the film ends. Although the onscreen credits include a copyright statement for Fanfare Film Productions, Inc., the film was not registered for copyright. The mostly dramatic story contains several comedic elements and occasional psychedelic special effects.
       An August 1970 Daily Variety news item announced that the stock for Fanfare, which distributed its own films via "established subdistributors in each market," was now being traded on the stock exchange. In October 1970, Daily Variety stated that all the film's lab work and location shooting would be done at M-G-M Studios. Although reviews were roundly negative, Simon, King of the Witches later earned status as a cult film.

Miscellaneous Notes

Released in United States Spring April 1971

Released in United States Spring April 1971