24 March 2006 | barnabyrudge
To say it's bad is to over-rate it!
My, my, my: Peter Cushing and Donald Pleasance must have been desperate for work to have lent their talents to this turkey. A horribly muddled story about satanism in modern day Greece, Land Of The Minotaur (aka The Devil's Men) is a misfire on more-or-less every level imaginable. It has precious few scares (always a slight flaw for a "horror" movie, don't you think?); weak performances; countless scenes where characters foolishly wander off alone or turn down the opportunity to remain in the safety of a group; and some rather irritating editing techniques which add nothing whatsoever to the proceedings. I got prematurely excited at the prospect of Cushing and Pleasance working together 17 years after The Flesh And The Fiends - but this film isn't worth getting remotely excited about; it's a huge let-down and rather an embarrassment for its much worthier leads.
In a remote region of Greece, outsiders such as tourists and archaeologists keep going missing, and local priest Father Roche (Donald Pleasance) suspects that something sinister is afoot. He writes to his friend, New York private eye Milo Kaye (Costas Skouras), asking him to fly out to Greece to help him get to the bottom of the mystery. In the meantime, three more visitors - Beth (Vanna Reville), Ian (Nikos Verlekis) and Tom (Robert Behling), who are all personal friends of Father Roche - go missing while snooping around nearby Greek ruins. Milo eventually arrives in Greece, but is initially dubious about Father Roche's beliefs that the missing people have been snatched for satanic sacrifices. Milo and Father Roche are also joined by Laurie (Luan Peters), the girlfriend of missing man Tom. Together, they uncover the activities of a Minoan devil-worshipping cult headed by creepy Carpathian exile Baron Corofax (Peter Cushing). These crazed cultists have been busily sacrificing their victims to a statue of the minotaur. Furthermore, they seemingly cannot be killed by normal means, so Father Roche has to use a variety of religious artifacts in his fight against them.
Land Of The Minotaur should have been much better than it actually is. The plot is so wacky and improbable that it has all the hallmarks of an enjoyably goofy cult/camp favourite. But the handling is just awful. Director Costas Carayiannis has no idea how to link the narrative together cohesively, so the whole thing progresses like it was being made up on a day-to-day basis. He also has no idea how to coax convincing performances from his cast, so they are left to embarrass themselves in either dreadfully hammy (Pleasance, Cushing) or dreadfully amateurish (Skouras, Peters) performances. What's worse is that the narrative makes no sense. Why would Father Roche seek help from a private eye who is utterly flippant about his beliefs? How does Roche know that the sacrifices only occur during a full moon? How can the minotaur statue speak? Why is one one of the sacrificial victims instructed during a vision to stab Father Roche, only to herself be stabbed a few scenes later before getting a chance to carry it out? And - most baffling of all - why does Father Roche drag Milo halfway around the world to help him when all he needs is a crucifix and and some holy water to dispose of the bad guys? These questions - and more - will pop into your mind during Land Of The Minotaur.... but, alas, there are no answers to be had. Frustrating, dumb and disappointing!