HOME |  CULT MOVIES | COMPETITIONS | ADVERTISE |  CONTACT US |  ABOUT US
 
 
 
Newest Reviews
Revolver
Men, The
Parallel Mothers
Sadness, The
Bloody New Year
Faye
Body Count
Spider-Man: No Way Home
'Round Midnight
Wild Men
Barry & Joan
Wake Up Punk
Twin, The
Wheel of Fortune and Fantasy
One of These Days
Lift to the Scaffold
Savage Dawn
Rest in Pieces
Innocents in Paris
We're All Going to the World's Fair
Beyond the Door 3
Jules et Jim
Love Jones
Saint-Narcisse
Souvenir Part II, The
Knockabout
400 Blows, The
Virus: 32
Studio 666
Great Movement, The
Lost in La Mancha
Cellar, The
Sacred Spirit, The
Chess of the Wind
Nineteen Eighty-Four
Scream
All I Can Say
You Are Not My Mother
Silent Enemy, The
Small Body
   
 
Newest Articles
La Violence: Dobermann at 25
Serious Comedy: The Wrong Arm of the Law on Blu-ray
DC Showcase: Constantine - The House of Mystery and More on Blu-ray
Monster Fun: Three Monster Tales of Sci-Fi Terror on Blu-ray
State of the 70s: Play for Today Volume 3 on Blu-ray
The Movie Damned: Cursed Films II on Shudder
The Dead of Night: In Cold Blood on Blu-ray
Suave and Sophisticated: The Persuaders! Take 50 on Blu-ray
Your Rules are Really Beginning to Annoy Me: Escape from L.A. on 4K UHD
A Woman's Viewfinder: The Camera is Ours on DVD
Chaplin's Silent Pursuit: Modern Times on Blu-ray
The Ecstasy of Cosmic Boredom: Dark Star on Arrow
A Frosty Reception: South and The Great White Silence on Blu-ray
You'll Never Guess Which is Sammo: Skinny Tiger and Fatty Dragon on Blu-ray
Two Christopher Miles Shorts: The Six-Sided Triangle/Rhythm 'n' Greens on Blu-ray
Not So Permissive: The Lovers! on Blu-ray
Uncomfortable Truths: Three Shorts by Andrea Arnold on MUBI
The Call of Nostalgia: Ghostbusters Afterlife on Blu-ray
Moon Night - Space 1999: Super Space Theater on Blu-ray
Super Sammo: Warriors Two and The Prodigal Son on Blu-ray
Sex vs Violence: In the Realm of the Senses on Blu-ray
What's So Funny About Brit Horror? Vampira and Bloodbath at the House of Death on Arrow
Keeping the Beatles Alive: Get Back
The Punk Rock Movie: Out of the Blue on Blu-ray
Yeah, Too Quiet: The Great Silence on Blu-ray
   
 
  Witches, The Rough In The Coven
Year: 1966
Director: Cyril Frankel
Stars: Joan Fontaine, Kay Walsh, Alec McCowen, Ann Bell, Ingrid Boulting, John Collin, Michele Dotrice, Gwen Ffrangcon Davies, Duncan Lamont, Leonard Rossiter, Martin Stephens, Carmel McSharry, Viola Keats, Shelagh Fraser, Bryan Marshall, Rudolph Walker
Genre: HorrorBuy from Amazon
Rating:  5 (from 1 vote)
Review: When she was in Africa, schoolteacher Gwen Mayfield (Joan Fontaine) was faced with the local tribalism, and her sanity was almost ruined when voodoo practitioners forced her out of the area after attacking her. Some months later, and she is feeling better so applies for a job in a sleepy English village thinking it will be less taxing than what she has done before. She meets with the local vicar, Alan Bax (Alec McCowen), who reassures her that she is ideal for the post and her experiences abroad will have no bearing on her employment there. But bad luck, Gwen, there's something sinister going on there too...

Legend has it that Joan Fontaine decided to buy the rights to the novel The Witches was based upon as a possible vehicle to star herself. After all, her contemporaries were turning up in horror films in the sixties, though she didn't fancy taking one of the crazy old lady roles and wanted the heroine one instead, so what better than to stand up against the massed forces of evil which have emerged in one corner which was supposed to have been forever England? Well, at the time there were quite a few people who could think of better options for entertainment, and Joan never made another film, although she did show up on television every once in a while.

Nevertheless, because it was her final movie, it has generated interest over the years, and that's not the only reason, as this was a Hammer production, one of their few witchcraft horrors, and was scripted by Nigel Kneale, the man who had provided them with their Quatermass hits of the fifties, and soon another one with Quatermass and the Pit. However, outside of those sci-fi horrors he didn't have much luck with his big screen efforts, and even to this day is best recalled for his pioneering and innovative television work, which is still impressive. Not something that could be said of The Witches, which crawls along in light of the fact that you're simply waiting for Gwen to catch on to what we have guessed in the first five minutes.

That being, all is not right in the village as the clues mount up and she puts two and two together. If nothing else, we have twigged this before Gwen because, well, just look at that butcher, grinning with cheerful menace, suggestively running a cloth up and down his big chopper, overenthusiastically skinning a rabbit when she goes in to buy a cut of meat, and laughing a lot. Watch out for him, because he appears at intervals and is always amusing, especially in the climax. But we're getting ahead of ourselves, as first Gwen has to turn detective when strange occurences arouse her suspicions, stuff like a curious puritanical streak the adults have about the two teenagers courting.

This ends with the girl (Ingrid Boulting, then called Ingrid Brett) getting her hand put in the mangle by her grandmother, deliberately, according to the boy (Martin Stephens, already a veteran of spooky stuff). In fact, there are few denizens of this hamlet who don't come across as a little touched, not least Alan who it transpires is not a vicar after all, but just pretending, preferring to spend his time in his religious artifact-festooned study, listening to church organ music at full volume. As if that were not enough to unsettle Gwen, there is no church in the village at all, a sure sign that we're dealing with godless heathens - but Alan's writer sister Stephanie (Kay Walsh) seems levelheaded enough, so there's absolutely no way that she could get up to any funny business. There is an interesting development halfway through when Gwen is trapped in a nursing home which claims she has been in a coma for a year, but it all goes off the rails when you see the hybrid voodoo-witchcraft-er, Aztec (?) ceremony at the end, which is inappropriately hilarious. Oh well, nice try, anyway: you don't get many horrors with scary sheep. Music by Richard Rodney Bennett.

[Studio Canal have released a remastered version of this on Blu-ray and DVD. A Hammer documentary is the sole extra.]
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

This review has been viewed 3541 time(s).

As a member you could Rate this film

 

Cyril Frankel  (1921 - )

British director who made the star-packed war comedy On the Fiddle and was uncredited co-director on School for Scoundrels, as well as working on such TV shows as Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased), The Avengers, Jason King and UFO.

 
Review Comments (0)


Untitled 1

Login
  Username:
 
  Password:
 
   
 
Forgotten your details? Enter email address in Username box and click Reminder. Your details will be emailed to you.
   

Latest Poll
Which star probably has psychic powers?
Laurence Fishburne
Nicolas Cage
Anya Taylor-Joy
Patrick Stewart
Sissy Spacek
Michelle Yeoh
Aubrey Plaza
Tom Cruise
Beatrice Dalle
Michael Ironside
   
 
   

Recent Visitors
Graeme Clark
Andrew Pragasam
Mary Sibley
  Desbris M
  Sheila Reeves
Darren Jones
Paul Smith
Enoch Sneed
   

 

Last Updated: