The Alchemist (1981)

USA, 1981
35mm film, colour
mono, English

An American horror film directed by Charles Band using the pseudonym James Amante. The film was begun by Craig Mitchell and it wasn’t released until four years after it was made.

Plot Summary

A late 19th century alchemist is cursed by a lecherous magician when he tries to save his wife from the madman’s clutches. Doomed to spend an eternity as a “ravening beast”, he survives until the mid-1950s, feeding on human blood until he meets his wife, reincarnated as a waitress. In the meantime, his daughter has now grown old while her dad remains his (relatively) youthful self, and she’s spent the years wisely, boning up on how to transfer the curse to herself. But the appearance of a gateway to Hell in the local graveyard and the emergence of a trio of demons throws a spanner in the works.


Director: James Amante [real name: Charles Band] [begun by Craig Mitchell]
© 1981 [no company given]
Ideal Films presents. Richard D Reinberg & Associates. A Lawrence Applebaum production
Executive Producers: Billy Fine, Jay Schultz
Produced by: Lawrence Appelbaum
Associate Producer: Harvey Genkins
Screenplay by: Alan J. Adler
Director of Photography: Andrew W. Friend
Edited by: Ted Nicolaou
Music Composed and Conducted by: Richard H. Band
Sound Mixers: Brett Webster, James Thornton
Costume Design: New Images, Inc.
Make-up Design: Karen Kubeck
Hairstyling & Make-up: Randy Applebaum
Special Make Up Designer: Karen Kubeck
Demons: Tony Abatemarco, Billy Scudder
Special Effects: Doug White, Young, Fast & Scientific
Animation & Rotoscope: Paul Gentry, Guy Marsden, special thanks to Peter Kuran
Production Designer: Dale A. Pelton

Robert Ginty (Aaron McCallum)
Lucinda Dooling (Lenore Sinclair/Anna McCallum)
John Sanderford (Cam)
Viola Kate Stimpson (Hester McCallum)
Robert Glaudini as Delgatto
Tony Abatemarco, Billy Scudder (demons)

Alternative Titles

Alchemik – Polish title
Alchemist – Kostaja haudan takaa… – Finnish video title
Der Alchimist – West German title
L’alchimiste – French title
El alquimista – Spanish title
O Alquimista – Brazilian, Portuguese title
Inferno des Bösen – – West German re-release title
Redselen fra fortiden – Norwegian title
Алхимик – Russian title


Daily Variety 7 November 1986 p.284
Whoever really directed this junker, the screenplay by Alan J. Adler is extremely weak in failing to develop any of the alchemist’s lore or to make credible the plot coincidences. As a hitchhiker who lags along with Lenore, John Sanderford acts as the audience’s surrogate, continually striking poses of bewilderment as he witnesses each phony plot turn unfolding. Ginty is unconvincing in a period role, while Stimpson as his 90-year-old daughter engenders the most sympathy. Dooling, who was most impressive in her next film, starring as the karate expert of “Lovely But Deadly,” is wasted here as a stock Gothic heroine. California lensing generates no atmosphere for the story’s Southern setting, and the 1955 dateline (with no period music) is presumably chosen to avoid the extreme silliness of such a hoary plotline in a contemporary setting. – from a review by Lor


Daily Variety 7 November 1986 p.284 – credits, review (by Lor)
L’Écran Fantastique no.29 p.54 – review
Halls of Horror no.27 p.16 – UK video data
Halls of Horror no.30 p.12 – note
Monthly Film Bulletin vol.50 no.595 (August 1983) p.209 – credits, review
Screen International 16 July 1983 – note
Starburst no.62 p.39 – review
Variety 20 October 1982 p.124 – advert
Variety 3 September 1986 p.112 – note (Director Shifts During Filming)
Video Business 22 August 1983 p.31 – note

The Aurum Film Encyclopedia: Horror (2nd edition) p.359 – credits, short review
Elliot’s Guide to Films on Video (4th edition) p.14 – credits, short review
Fantastic Cinema Subject Guide: A Topical Index to 2,500 Horror, Science Fiction, and Fantasy Films by Bryan Senn and John Johnson p.594 – credits
The Films of the Eighties by Robert A. Nowlan and Gwendolyn Wright Nowlan p.8-9 – credits, synopsis p.7
Hoffman’s Guide to SF, Horror and Fantasy Movies 1991-1992 p.17 – credits, short review
Horror and Science Fiction Films III by Donald C. Willis p.6 – credits
Nightmare USA: The Untold Story of the Exploitation Independents by Stephen Thrower pp.409-410 – illustrated credits, review
Science Fiction, Horror and Fantasy Film and Television Credits: Films v.3 by Harris M. Lentz p.6 – credits
Video Source Book (13th Edition) p.56 – US video data
VideoHound’s Complete Guide to Cult Flicks and Trash Pics by Carol A. Schwartz p.5 – review