Crossing Village of the Damned with Rosemary’s Baby, The Brotherhood of Satan was an early harbinger of occult horror films which increasingly hit theaters in the 1970s. The movie isn’t great cinema but produces genuinely creepy entertainment in spurts. It is a guilty pleasure for true horror lovers of the era, despite languid pacing and occasionally hokey material.
Set in a small Californian town with a dark secret, Strother Martin (Cool Hand Luke) stars as a doctor hiding something. A family stumbles upon a rural town whose inhabitants are mysteriously dying, becoming trapped in it by an unseen malevolent force. The local Satanic coven has sinister designs on the family.
Released several years ago in a double-feature Blu-ray with Mr. Sardonicus, read our earlier review for more thoughts on The Brotherhood of Satan.
Arrow Video appears to use the same, mostly excellent Sony film transfer that Mill Creek licensed for their release back in 2013. Long out of print, the only real difference between the two Hi-Def presentations is a slightly improved AVC encode by Arrow Video. The 1969 production exhibits a nice, film-like vibe in 1080P resolution with fairly sharp definition. My thoughts on the earlier Mill Creek disc apply here – the transfer from Sony has nice picture quality with only a modicum of video processing evident.
The Brotherhood of Satan runs an uncut 92 minutes, encoded in stout AVC on a BD-50. Every nuance of the movie’s full grain structure and cinematic texture is transparently rendered without digital artifacts. Presented in its proper 2.35:1 framing, the OAR presentation has a faithful color grading which holds up with newer film scans.
I’m sure a brand-new 4K restoration might have squeezed a little more detail from the negative but Sony was far ahead of the game when striking this pleasing film transfer. It’s an image harvest that holds up in 2021 alongside other reissues of cult movies from the 1970s.
The theatrical monaural sound mix is heard in acceptable 1.0 PCM. The lossless sound quality reflects a dated, often limited audio design with serviceable fidelity. Dialogue is intelligibly clean but flat like everything else in the recording. The Mill Creek Blu-ray also offered a lossless soundtrack, so this isn’t any sort of sonic upgrade for the low-budget movie.
Optional English SDH subtitles play in a white font, inside the 2.35:1 scope presentation.
All credit due to Arrow Video, The Brotherhood of Satan has never received bonus features of any kind before this special edition from the cult video label. Originally issued on Blu-ray by Mill Creek, the Sony property receives a sprinkling of new 2021 features.
This special edition from Arrow Video includes a new commentary, two new featurettes, and their usual top-flight packaging. It’s not their most loaded special edition but fans will appreciate these efforts. There’s no reason to keep the earlier Mill Creek BD if you own this Arrow Video release.
The Blu-ray is coded for all regions. A reversible sleeve features original and newly commissioned artwork by Richard Wells. The first pressing only includes an illustrated booklet featuring new liner notes by Johnny Mains and Brad Stevens.
Audio Commentary – Writers Kim Newman and Sean Hogan give a friendly, mostly jovial discussion of the film. Well versed in horror, the British men know their way around the genre and what makes it tick. This isn’t the most knowledgeable or in-depth commentary though it’s certainly lively.
Satanic Panic: How the 1970s Conjured the Brotherhood of Satan (15:05 in HD) – A new featurette, or visual essay as Arrow Video dubs them, featuring David Flint. He discusses the rising tide of Satanic themes in ’70s horror from a British perspective.
The Children of Satan (18:16 in HD) – Exclusive new interviews with actors Jonathan Erickson Eisley and Alyson Moore, who played children in the film. They recall working with L.Q. Jones and how they were cast, among other topics. Neither were professional actors before the movie.
Original Theatrical Trailer (02:27 in upscaled SD)
TV Spot #1 (01:02 in upscaled SD)
TV Spot #2 (01:02 in upscaled SD)
Radio Spot (00:54)
Image Gallery (HD) – 18 Still Images
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Brotherhood of Satan
Despite having one foot stuck in the cinema of the 1960s, the Satanic horror is effectively creepy and a b-movie guilty pleasure.
User Review( vote)
The following six screen shots serve as samples for our subscription-exclusive set of 55 full resolution, uncompressed HD screen shots grabbed directly from the Blu-ray: