Tony Mastroianni Review Collection

Child's Play Can Be Pretty Deadly

Cleveland Press September 10, 1971

Is it a social gathering of golden agers or a coven of witches? The movies lately seem to indicate that any gathering of the elderly is involved with the supernatural and is sponsored by Satan.

In the wake of "Rosemary's Baby" and "Mephisto Waltz" comes "The Brotherhood of Satan," a low-budget shocker now making the rounds.

The picture also seems to be a lineal descendant of "Children of the Damned" in its use of kids as the perpetrators of evil.

The setting of "Brotherhood" is a town in New Mexico where a couple dozen citizens have been murdered and their children have disappeared.

A widower (Charles Bateman), his daughter (Geri Reischel) and his fiancee (Ahna Capri) are the outsiders who wander into this horror situation.

Driving along they come across a strange accident -- an auto and its occupants have been crushed. Tracks leading to and away from the accident are those of an army tank but nothing is in sight.

What the audience has seen earlier is a group of children playing with a toy tank, a tank that became full-sized long enough to crush the car.

Once in the town they find disaster everywhere with corpses piling up in the local icehouse. No one is able to leave and there is no communication with the outside.

One after another the children in the town become possessed, wander off as though hypnotized while their toys become lethal instruments against their parents.

The local priest finally figures the Devil is at work and starts to read up on exorcism. Only he doesn't read fast enough.

"Brotherhood" suffers from being derivative and also for substituting shock for suspense. As a film of horror and suspense this one is only fair at best.