Directors: Costas Karagiannis, Norman J. Warren
BCI Eclipse

One-time drive-in film purveyors Crown International were never acclaimed for their homespun horrors, churning out dreck like NIGHTMARE IN WAX, BLOOD MANIA and POINT OF TERROR. This disc presents two imports that Crown distributed in the U.S., LAND OF THE MINOTAUR a Greek production featuring two well-known British thesps, and TERROR, a gore-drenched effort from British cult director Norman J. Warren. The films are far from the genre’s crowning achievements, but together they provide an ok backdrop for some late-night sofa loafing.

In LAND OF THE MINOTAUR, three young people go on an archeological find in a remote area in Greece despite the warnings of Catholic priest Father Roche (Donald Pleasance), an expert in demonology. Seemingly more interested in sex than uncovering any ancient marvels, they are taken prisoner in a ruined temple by some hooded Satanists who worship a half bull/half human idol (who periodically shouts out threats like some sort of deranged talking kids’ toy, and shoots smoke from his nostrils), and they are prepped to be blood sacrifices. Father Roche calls upon a private detective friend (Costas Skouras) from New York, and they are later joined by Laurie (Luan Peters) who is search of her missing beau. All this devil worship is linked directly to the most influential man in the village, Baron Corofax (Peter Cushing), who is in exile from the Carpathian Mountains.

LAND OF THE MINOTAUR has very little to recommend it except for the presence of Cushing and Pleasance, so you have to believe they took this gig just to take advantage of a holiday in Greece. At least Luan Peters, one of the sexiest and underused of the British horror film heroines (she had small parts in Hammer’s LUST FOR A VAMPIRE and TWINS OF EVIL) gets to wear hot pants and screams a lot. The direction, photography and sound recording are all very crude, and the plot is as predictable and unimaginative as they come. Not even the scenic Greek locations give the film any kind of distinction. Ex Roxy Music member Brian Eno provides a haunting electronic score that’s better than the film deserves. It was released in the U.K. as THE DEVIL’S MEN, but Crown International not only shortened it but excised some gore and nudity to guarantee a PG rating, and that what’s represented on this DVD (the uncut version is available in the U.K. as a Region 2 PAL release).

TERROR is the second collaboration between director Norman J. Warren and writer David McGillivray, and it was admittedly inspired by Dario Argento's SUSPIRIA, delivering what many deem a British giallo. With a centuries-old curse lingering over their family name, filmmaker James Garrick (John Nolan) is united with cousin Ann (Ann Garrick) when she stars in his latest low budget horror flick. At the wrap party, Ann goes under a trance and tries to slice him up with an ancient sword. Soon, people are turning up dead in the most bizarre ways, and the unseen assailant has a supernatural sway in his favor. Allowing the red stuff to flow freely, a woman is found pinned to a tree with knives, a dirty movie director is crushed by a hanging film light, a canister of film comes to life and leads to a beheading by a broken window glass, a policeman is repeatedly run over by a car, etc.

The film is a matter of style (with some striking shots and color lighting schemes) over substance (the script lacks interesting characters, and there are too many for that matter), but you have to give Warren and McGillivray points for attempting to keep the genre alive and fresh at a time when the British horror cycle was already ten feet under. It’s pretty much a mixed bag of unintentional laughs (a floating, menacing car!) and every horror film device imaginable, but it certainly can be enjoyable. Look for cameos by McGillivray (as a reporter), Hammer heavy Milton Reid as a bouncer and Peter Mayhew (Chewbacca in the "Star Wars" series) as a sinister mechanic.

BCI has released LAND OF THE MINOTAUR and TERROR as a flipper disc as part of their “Crypt of Terror” line. LAND OF THE MINOTAUR is presented 1.85:1 anamorphic, with sometimes dull colors and bit of a murky appearance. There is some speckling on the source print, and the mono audio (the original soundtrack appears to have been recorded in a wind tunnel) is not the strongest you’ll ever hear. TERROR fairs better. The film was previous available open matte from Rhino as part of a “Horrible Horrors” package (it is also available in the U.K. in a Norman J. Warren box set from Anchor Bay), and is presented here in its original 1.85:1 ratio and anamorphic. Aside from being a tad dark in some scenes, the colors are nice and detail is rich. The mono audio is very clear and clean. There are no extras on the disc, but at least it carries a low retail price, making it an easy purchase for 1970s drive-in horror completists. (George R. Reis)