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The Devil's Men (1976) aka Land of the Minotaur

The old customs remain and the ancient gods live on.

Baron Corofax (Peter Cushing)

In The Devil’s Men (1976), Peter Cushing doesn’t look as gaunt as he does in Star Wars (1977.) It’s an odd coincidence, though, that both movies were released on the same day in the United States. Guess which one emerged as a box office champion? It sure wasn’t this one, known in the States as Land of the Minotaur.


Take the most basic plot elements from a 1970s Satanic cult movie, minus any ambiguity or mystery, and you’ll have The Devil’s Men. There is literally nothing new or interesting in this one. By opening the film with a cult ceremony and sacrifice, fully revealing the faces under the colorful hoods, there’s no compelling reason to stick with it.


That is except, of course, for Cushing… normally. He’s fine and it’s good to see him in any film, but this role doesn’t require him to do anything exciting or speak with any of his usual eloquence. He plays Baron Corofax, the leader of a cult that worships an anatomically correct minotaur that rises from the ground to blow smoke (and movie credits) out of his snout.


As underutilized as Cushing is, Donald Pleasence is misused. His character, Father Roche, is incapable of taking action against the cult by himself, yet he has all the answers in the end. He summons Milo (Kostas Karagiorgis) from the United States to help. Milo tells his girlfriend that Roche is his best friend and that he owes him a lot…


…yet when he arrives, he treats him terribly. The two bicker like old ladies. When the Baron’s limousine almost collides with Roche and Milo pushes him out of the way, Roche asks if he had to push him so hard. Milo replies, “Sorry; I should have let them hit you.” This is tender, loving care, though, compared to the way Milo treats the young women in the film.


When Laurie (Luan Peters) barely survives pursuit, Milo tells her she probably saw a cow in the woods and “At least you didn’t pass out this time (referencing an earlier scene when she fainted after robed figures tried to grab her in the bathroom.) When Laurie doesn’t buy Roche’s theory that the devil has taken possession of the village, Milo says, “She’s not as dumb as I thought.”


This is one of those movies wherein one character asks another how he knows something, and the other replies, “I just know it; that’s all!” That’s Roche, who, played by Pleasence is a much calmer version of Dr. Loomis from Halloween. That is, until his favorite hat blows off his head when Milo drives the convertible.


Based on his reaction, you’d think this was the biggest crime being committed in the village, even if it were possessed by the devil. Little does he know that the biggest crime of all is that The Devil’s Men was made in the first place. From some of the names, you can tell the film was produced in Greece. Maybe something was lost in translation.


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