Father Roche(Donald Pleasence) is a worried man. A number of people who have stayed with him have subsequently vanished after visiting a nearby region rich in archealogical sites. Roche knows it for other, more sinister reasons. Frustrated by the lack of help he recieves from the town's policeman, Roche calls on his friend Ted Milo(Costas Skouras) who is currently working in America as a private dick, with dick being the operative word in Milo's case. Anyway, the two men, who are accompanied by the concerned fiancee of one of the missing men, set off in search of answers, only to find that to trespass on Baron Corofax's land is a very bad idea. Soon all three face death in the land of the Minotaur!
I have watched this before in the mid-1980's on late night television. It seems like a real winner, with the dream ticket of Pleasence and Peter Cushing who plays Corofax. Well, thats not quite the case, but its a fascinating missfire all the same. There are some good points. Pleasence is terrific as the weary priest, and his performance keeps the whole ship afloat. There are a couple of pretty good set pieces such as the frantic race to stop the sacrifice and the scene where Cushing and Pleasence tensly discuss the use of an ancient pagan fetish as a childs rattle. The amazing soundtrack by Brian Eno also deserves a mention, a great mixture of experimental electronica and chilly ambient, it deserves a better film to accompany it.
There are some bad points of course to balace against the good. First of all, I've never seen Peter Cushing give such a lacklustre performance, and I've seen many of his films. He seems entirely disinterested with the proceedings. Secondly , theres the idiotic character of Milo. The lunkhead tells his girlfriend that Roche needs his help, and that the priest is a good friend who he owes a big debt to. However, when he arrives in Greece, he spends the whole time bossing his so called friend around, belittling his religious beliefs or generally getting in the bloody way. One of the most annoying characters in the history of British Horror film. Finally, there is some terrible editing on display, with one scene cutting to another with no clarity, and therefore the film appears very disjointed at times.
An interesting point to end on is that some of the actors who appeared in Nico Mastorakis's notorious shocker 'Island Of Death' obviously hung around in Greece long along to film this rather more sedate offering. Theres Bob Behling who played the animal loving Christopher in the Mastorakis film, and most memorably Jane Ryall/Lyle who appears naked in this film as Milo's girlfriend, and spends large parts of Island Of Death in the nuddie too.
Anyway, its no travesty, but this film is a right load of bull, if a very enjoyable load. The usual nice DD release, part of the Masters Of Horror series, with the usual lovely, glossy booklet to accompant the DVD. 3 OUT OF 5