The Astrologer - The Astrologer( Blu Ray) [Severin - 2020]If ever I see the name James Glickenhaus attached to a film, it piques my interest. Having been blown away as a youngster watching the somewhat inappropriate for my age, The Exterminator, and later enjoying the succession of wonderfully sleazy films set in New York that he produced for the likes of Frank Henenlotter (Frankenhooker, Basket Case 2 and Basket Case 3) and William Lustig (Maniac Cop) I was overjoyed to be asked review his debut feature The Astrologer (1975), a film that at first I thought I hadn’t heard of but upon reflection realized I knew under its alternative title, Suicide Cult, a section 3 video nasty here in the UK.
Alexei (Bob Byrd) works for Interzod, a covert government organization that tracks individuals who they see as “astrologically privileged”. They are tracking the leader of a suicide cult in India, Kajerste (Mark Buntzman), who is thought could possibly be some sort of Antichrist type figure. The bearded Kajerste has special powers including the ability to bend people to his will, which he uses to devastating effect. Meanwhile, there is a belief that the world is just ten days away from the second coming, but will the child be good or evil? In amidst all of this Alexei has become concerned about his beautiful young wife, Kate (Monica Tidwell) who he appears unable to bring himself to make love to. Could there be a relationship between Kate and the ongoing battle between good and evil?
The Astrologer is a bizarre celluloid nightmare featuring a conspiracy based around astrology, a satanic suicide cult, organized religion and the second coming. Simply put, the film is nuts, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Every so often you come across something that is so out there that it is thoroughly enjoyable in a so mad its good way. The Astrologer is one such film. Cheaply made, with a slightly scuzzy feel that Glickenhaus would go on to perfect with The Exterminator, The Astrologer is very watchable despite the plot being all over the place. The performances are as good as one could expect from such a low budget feature and it features an excellent synthesizer-heavy soundtrack from Brad Fiedel who would go on to score a host of well-known movies including The Terminator and Fright Night.
The disc features a 4k scan of the movie, drawn from the director’s own print, and has probably never looked better. There remains quite a bit of grain, but I can’t imagine the film would benefit from being HDR’d to death. There are also some cool bonus materials, including an interview with James Glickenhaus in which discusses the film, as well as an interview with the film’s female lead Monica Tidwell.
Overall, if you enjoy the madness of conspiracy theories and movies about weird cults and the second coming then you’ll enjoy this truly odd little film, and whilst this is most certainly no Exterminator it does provide enough entertainment to keep the viewer occupied for its reasonably short 78-minute length.Darren Charles