The explanations I’ve read on online for “Simon, King of the Witches” insist that the obscure Andrew Prine movie is not meant to be taken seriously. It’s strictly dark comedy. But then you watch one of the most nonsensical unnecessary opening monologues ever filmed, and wonder if the writer himself was high while creating this genre confused tedious mess. “I really am one of the few true magicians,” Simon insists in the prologue, while declaring his affinity for magic, and aspirations to be a god. It is then followed by the man being arrested for vagrancy while being hulled away from his home: a sewer.
Simon Sinestrari is one of the few true male witches that exist. His ultimate goal is to leave the Earth to become a god, and the time for this event is at hand. Is Simon capable of fooling the gods, and will his normal friends be an aid or a problem to the process? The titular Simon is also a silly character thanks to the scene chewing of Andrew Prine. Prine’s dialogue is delivered with immense stilted emphasis almost like a William Shatner impersonator.
I’m usually a huge fan of almost anything coming out of the sixties that brings with it a psychedelic mirror of the decade. I just wish “Simon, King of the Witches” were more focused in its narrative. Is it a dramatic fantasy, a dark comedy, or just stern satire with a running in-joke that only the very well versed grind house geek will get? The premise of Simon striking back at the wealthy with his powers after being used and abused for his services is the type of anarchic narrative that would make for some gruesome entertainment.
Often times the writer Robert Phippeny channels the anarchic psychedelic tone that allowed for great camp. But most of the time, there’s the clumsy homoerotic friendship with our main character, Simon using his magic to bring the erection of his sidekick down. There’s also Simon marveling at rain falling, characters screaming in to mirrors, and much more assorted goofiness that never quite registered with me. “Simon, King of the Witches” is hit or miss, but mostly a miss that didn’t really deliver in darkly comic material as the online scuttlebutt promised.