Ladies Night Presents: Land of the Minotaur (1976)

This month we've looked into a lot of religion, and when the Ladies of the Lair get their higher power on, it's time to break out the robes and get all Pagan up in here. So sit back as the Ladies take us on at trip to a little part of Greece sometimes known as....
Land of the Minotaur [a.k.a The Devil's Men] starring Donald Pleasance, Peter Cushing, Kostas Karagiorgis, and Laurie Gordon. Directed by Kostas Karagiorgis.

Tagline: Half man... half beast... trapped in a world forgotten by time. 

Father Roche (Pleasance) has been concerned by the disappearance of several young tourists in a nearby town, but when his three young friends go missing, he decides it's time to take action. The priest enlists the help of an American PI, Milo Kaye (Karagiorgis), who used to live in Greece, to help find the kids. 

Once the PI hits town they meet up with Baron Corofax (Cushing) who seems an affable enough fellow, but he is actually the head of a pagan cult dedicated to the worship of the Minotaur god. It's not long before Roche and Kaye learn that the entire town is part of the cult, and it's more than just the missing kids whose life is in danger. 

I learned a lot watching this movie, and I’d like to share a few of those things.

When Peter Cushing arrives on screen, whatever you are watching improves. This movie was entertaining in a fun 70’s campy way, but it got so much better the first time he stepped out of his car.

I also learned that hippies are stupid, but I already knew that from seeing drum circles. 

One thing that stuck me as a member of the female sex is how tough women were in the 70’s.  Getting up everyday, even when you are pretty sure you’re in a town is trying to sacrifice you to their Minotaur god, and putting on those wooden platform heels, well it’s more than I could do. Even a girl like me with a shoe habit would reach for the adidas on a day like that. I would also probably go for jeans instead of cutoffs so short that if you wore them as underwear you would have no panty lines. Women of the 70’s, I must respect your misguided fashion sense.
Aside from all I learned there were some down sides. The first in my mind is that Minotaurs are in the same class of mythological creatures as unicorns. They're just so dang cute. Use all the camera tricks in the book, but a statue of a half bull half man will not invoke any fear in my heart.  

This could have been overcome by fear my of the cult members. Nothing scares me more than a cult movie, and I’m talking a literal cult movie not the midnight showing of Rocky Horror, although maybe that too now that I think of it.  The problem there is all these people were very polite Europeans. The only creepy town folks are one little girl that does not talk and the ex-pat Peter Cushing, who was banished from his own land for always speaking in a very eerie way. At least that’s why I assume he was living in exile.

The pacing of Land of the Minotaur was not great. It’s well after the half way point when we meet the hero. Director Kostas Karagiorgis finally shows up as the PI from America with a great, giant gray mane of hair that would make Sam Elliott and Taylor Hicks wonder what they have been doing with their life. There seems to be an ongoing joke about how badly he drives, but it never hits the funny bone. I have to say for a PI he is not the most observant, but still these people put all their faith in him to save their friends. 
 All of the flaws aside it’s a great time capsule. The film belongs to that time late in the decade when free love was ending and the flash of mainstream disco was about to grab the world in its vice. At the beginning of the movie we start with a hippie archeologist in a VW bus, at the end we have Dorothy Hammil hair cuts and Italian suits. This was not the point of the film but it’s always interesting to see how pop culture evolves.

Minotaur Rating

First of all the tag line (half man, half beast…) has nothing to do with the film. When I watch a movie called Land of the Minotaur, I expect some Minotaur. What I got was a statue with blue, glowing, smoky nostrils. As far as Pagan gods go, it was just not menacing. 

The plot of the film was just not very well laid out. I got the gist of it, but I have no idea what the town got in exchange for all their sacrifices. Maybe they made S’mores on the open flame that the statue spewed forth from its schnoz. Mmmm, Minotaur god statue nose S’mores. 

Peter Cushing and Donald Pleasance, who looks adorable in his little Greek priest stocking cap, did good jobs with their characters, and there were a few other characters that were enjoyable as well. All in all, I liked the movie from start to finish, but would I recommend it? No, probably not. Sure every time I think about the Minotaur with its fiery nostrils, it takes me to a special place, but it’s just not enough. Don’t seek it out, but if you happen to come across it, give it a watch.  

Minotaur Rating

1 comment:

  1. I'm glad you commented about "don't seek it out," because this is sort of plot that would pull me right to it, with the right cast (and it sounds like one of my favorite hammer movies, The Gorgon), and thus manage to perfectly disappoint me. Thanks for the review.


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