Monday, April 20, 2009

Land of the Minotaur (Kostas Karagiannis, 1976)

Out of all the films I've seen this year that go out of their way to denigrate ritualistic murder, Land of the Minotaur (a.k.a. The Devil's Men) is definitely the most egregious offender of the lot. A veiled attack on secular values and, like I said, the killing of the physically constrained while wearing shiny robes, the hokey, yet ultimately serious-minded film makes fools out of young people and their disbelieving ways at every turn. Now I don't mean to sound like I had a problem with the film's overall position (so-called good triumphing over evil can be a refreshing change sometimes). But implying that sacrificing inquisitive white people who insist on exploring subterranean caverns is wrong is not only culturally incorrect, it's downright kooky. As the kindly Lithuanian couple who ran the Satanic commune I grew up on during the early 1960s used to tell me: "Overly curious Caucasians and sacrificial slaughter are a match made in Hell." This nugget of seemingly pointless wisdom is repeatedly plays itself out throughout the film, as countless white people seem to wander aimlessly into a ritualistic demise of their own making.

I wasn't a Satanist, by the way, I just liked to hang out there because they had an air hockey table and the best chicken wings this side of Kapuskasing.

The only problem with killing white people to appease a stone deity that shoots fire out of its nostrils is that other white people will no doubt begin to notice that their white friends, white loved ones, and white acquaintances are missing, and come looking for them.

Which, invariably, shall bring much unwanted attention to your cult or alternative lifestyle. And that's exactly what happens to a congenial group of devil worshipers in a small village in Greece, who are under the command of the Minotaur, a large creature with the body of a gay porn star and the head of a tempestuous bull.

Their homicidal ways are disturbed by Milo (Kostas Karagiannis), a non-believing American detective, the equally heathenish Laurie (Luan Peters), the lady friend of a missing white person, and the obnoxiously devote Father Roche (Donald Pleasence), a smug priest who knows for a fact that the Devil is real. These three party poopers think evil is wrong and junk, and want to put a stop to Baron Corofax (Peter Cushing) and his merry band of cloak-wearing fiends.

Sporting lots of close up shots of eyeballs while in the midst of staring intently at something, a wonderfully sinister music score by Brian Eno, and a creepy Greek girl in black knee socks (Christina), Land of the Minotaur succeeds in creating an atmosphere where religious mysticism and pagan rituals are commonplace.

The film, however, takes itself so seriously, that the overly earnest scenes that involve theology come off as clownish, as supposed to deep and contemplative. The fact that the scene where Karagiannis and Pleasence take turns calming an hysteric Luan Peters using the face slapping technique reminded of a gag from Airplane! didn't help matters, either.

I loved Greek mythology as a listless ten year-old: The Hydra, the dog with many heads, Medusa, and the Cyclops, they were all tops in my book (I even remember getting reasonably high marks for a picture book I did on the mythical monsters). However, since that kid doesn't work anymore (I asphyxiated him with a plastic bag laced with guacamole), I had to scan the screen for something else to latch onto. And I must say, the chiseled splendour of Peter Cushing's exquisite bone structure intrigued me immensely (you could chop lettuce on that face).

Nevertheless, I needed something much more substantial than that.

The sheathing of Luan Peters and Vanna "Gelsomina" Reville's attractive lower halves in fabric-depleted short shorts was just what this movie needed in terms of perverted charm. Listening to the amount of nonsense that is uttered in this film was a small sacrifice to pay in order to gaze upon the insanely short nature of the shorts worn by Luan and Vanna throughout this banal undertaking.

The former looked her best, short-short wise, while being chased through the woods by a gaggle of Minotaur fans in black robes, and the latter, well, I thought she did her best short-short work while tied to a wall.

I was planning to go on at length about the huge camel toe Luan sports during her first trip into the realm of the Minotaur, but since I don't want to come off as a depraved lunatic obsessed with the crotch-based lumpiness of others, I'll pass...for now.



  1. I always enjoy your reviews whether I've seen a movie or not. Good one as usual. Hope your week has started off well.

  2. Thanks, Keith. :)

    Herb Tarlek and Les Nessman made an appearance on The Colbert Report the other day.

  3. A leg-fest with Peter Cushing!?! Who knew such a wonderful thing existed? Suitable used copy from Amazon in my cart right now!

  4. I am watching this while I type. Granted, I have a cocktail or five in me, but it is surprisingly good.

    Donald Plesance's partner, who looks like a cross between Billy Connolly and the boring guy from "Top Gear" (obscure?) is hilarious.

    Even without the cheek-displaying short-shorts this one was worth watching. If I ever doubted your reviews before, I will not make the mistake again ;-)