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  Virgin Witch Starkers Sorcery
Year: 1972
Director: Ray Austin
Stars: Ann Michelle, Vicki Michelle, Keith Buckley, Patricia Haines, James Chase, Paula Wright, Christopher Strain, Esme Smythe, Garth Watkins, Neil Hallett, Helen Downing, Peter Halliday, Jenny Klingman, Maria Coyne, Prudence Drage
Genre: Horror, Sex, TrashBuy from Amazon
Rating:  5 (from 2 votes)
Review: Christine (Ann Michelle) and Betty (Vicki Michelle) are two sisters hitchhiking their way to London one night in the hope that they will make it big there as models. A car pulls up by the side of the road and lets them in, driven by Johnny (Keith Buckley), and as he gets to know the girls on the journey suddenly Christine cries out that there's something in the way. Johnny avoids it, but notes that she must be able to see in the dark - and Betty admits that she can. Johnny is good enough to let them stay at his flat while they look for work, although he has an ulterior motive in getting friendly with Betty, as Christine finds an agency that might not be all it seems...

There may be a witches' coven involved in this film, but don't go expecting a feast of intense Rosemary's Baby-style thrills, this was strictly Dennis Wheatley occultism with added sleaze on a budget. A low budget at that, as most of the thrills on display here relied on the pulchritude of its female cast. When Christine visits the agency, we get an idea of what's in store when Sybil Waite (Patricia Haines), the lesbian head of the establishment, tells her to strip off so she can find out her measurements for reasons of gratuitous nudity. I think it's safe to say this was not made with a female audience in mind.

Scripted by a pseudonymous Beryl Vertue, now better known as a television producer (Men Behaving Badly and Coupling were probably her biggest successes), the film has an oddly quaint tone, at once both prurient in the number of times the actresses are separated from their clothes and naive in the hope that we wouldn't see through the filmmakers' tawdry schemes. In fact, one can imagine the producers to be like the agency in this film, persuading the poor, innocent Michelle sisters to appear in their birthday suits, only this sole purpose was to make money and nothing Satanic. Probably.

The coven's purpose, as we gradually find out, is to welcome another, virginal, member into their fold, and before you know it Christine - now renamed Christina supposedly because it sounds more model-y - has been escorted all the way out to a very big house in the country, with Betty as her "chaperone" tagging along. There then follows a photo shoot for an advertisement that ends up with Christine completely naked and draped over the bonnet of a car, exactly like in all those vehicle brochures of the seventies, presumably because ladies weren't supposed to buy cars. Meanwhile, Betty wanders the grounds and runs away from sinister-looking characters.

Betty takes a turn and ends up put to bed by the local doctor, but what kind of doctor can he be when he peeps at her while she takes a bath five minutes later? A witchcraft doctor, of course (not a witch doctor, though) and that night Christine is being inducted into the ways of the dark arts - will poor Betty be next? Not if Johnny gets there in time! Although Betty is caught between a rock and a hard place by the end, if you see what I mean. Virgin Witch has all the panache of a public information film, with a heavy reliance on the zoom lens and the closeup, particuarly on the actresses' eyes. Once Christine has become one of them, she takes to it like a duck to water, leading to the only original scene in the film where she performs a kind of voodoo on rival Sybil. After that, interest begins to wane, but the overall ingenuous presentation speaks of its era that might appeal to nostalgists. Music by Ted Dicks, apparently a fan of The Persuaders.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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