On LAND OF THE MINOTAUR

An appreciation of the underrated British/Greek horror film

Released in 1976 in the U.S. by exploitation house Crown International to a moderately successful box office take and generally pitiful reviews, director Kostas Karagiannis‘s earthy and surreal horror mood-piece LAND OF THE MINOTAUR has been pretty easy to find on home viewing formats, popping up in rough looking pan and scan VHS versions and dodgy DVD releases in North America and in equally ugly (but thankfully uncut) editions in the UK. Scorpion Releasing even let it loose a few years back as a split disc with Norman J. Warren’s TERROR, uncut and in widescreen under it’s original title (THE DEVIL’S MEN) with little to no fanfare and that cut has been itself bootlegged to death.

Still, despite its exposure, I’ve sadly yet to hear anyone else seriously champion LAND OF THE MINOTAUR’s virtues.

So, with that, allow me to do so.

On the outskirts of a remote, inland village in beautiful, picturesque Greece (Aris Stavrou’s photography is stark and eye-filling), something secret, insidious and palpably evil lurks, sucking every too-curious young tourist into its maw and swallowing them whole. As the ever-expanding list of the curious missing travelers increases, an eccentric local Priest (the great Donald Pleasence) begins to suspect that a cult of mountain dwelling, black hooded, Minotaur-worshiping Satanists have gained a stronghold, sacrificing pretty young people to their titular stone hoof and horned, steam belching deity.

A battle of theological wits ensues between the fraught Father and the ultra-wicked village Magistrate/covert cult leader Baron Corofax (the perhaps even greater Peter Cushing in a rare, full-on chin-stroking villain role) and by the time the smoke clears and the last drop of crudely spilled virgin blood dries, only one of these admirably dedicated and faithful men will be left standing.

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On TANGO OF PERVERSION

A look at what might be the crown jewel of “Greeksploitation”

For serious cinephiles, there is nothing more joyous than the act of discovery, to stumble upon something secret, or to be exposed to a previously unknown strain of filmmaking that life has long denied you.

And with the swell of high-quality home video over the past 20 years, it’s been a virtual renaissance for people like us. To unearth pictures we’d only read about and, in many cases had no idea even existed. And then to see them is such lovely shape…

For this writer, so in love with the bizarre, stylish and exotic, discovering the existence of “Greeksploitation” was a virtual revelation. I have long been a huge fan of the less-loved British-Greek horror film starring Peter Cushing and Donald Pleasence called Land of the Minotaur (aka The Devil’s Men). That film (an ambient doom-horror movie with a pulsing Brian Eno score) was directed by Kostas Karagiannis under the name Costa Carayiannis and, though a glance at his credits reveal dozens of pictures, almost all of them were made exclusively for the Greek market. The thought of taking time to track down some of these pictures never even crossed my skull. Life is brief, after all…

Continue reading “On TANGO OF PERVERSION”