Saturday, April 14, 2012

In short: Virgin Witch (1972)

Thanks to her latent magical powers nudging her in the right direction, Christine (Ann Michelle), just arrived with her sister Betty (Vicki Michelle) from the country in London, walks into the office of lesbian model impresario Sybil Waite (Patricia Haines).

Christine wants to become a professional model, and Sybil's just the right kind of woman to help her there. But Sybil has plans of her own for Christine that don't necessarily have to do with making her famous, so the girl's first job, a weekend shoot at a mansion named Witch World - which doesn't sound like a sinister theme park at all - is actually only a pretext for Sybil to induct the magically very potent Christine into her witch coven (and bed her, of course).

Once inducted, though, Christine turns out to be quite a bit less naive than Sybil had suspected, and soon enough, the younger woman takes steps to turn Sybil's coven into her own.

Virgin Witch (directed by director of a thousand TV show episodes Ray Austin and the only writing credit for - mostly - British TV producer Beryl Vertue) is one of those horror films evidently more interested in using their merry occult nonsense to show as much nudity as they can possibly squeeze in than in making a movie that's actually horrifying, disturbing or at least scary. That's a bit disappointing, really, because it's also evident that a little more care for the creepy and weird and just a little less interest in the nudity could have turned Virgin Witch into a very effective erotic horror film. It's also a bit of a shame how little of interest Austin's direction has to show for it. There are some cleverly edited moments in the film, but for the most part, Austin shoots in a blandly pretty style I found perfectly acceptable, yet also perfectly forgettable.

As it plays out, the film's an occult soap opera spiced up with a bit of sex, a few rather funny occult ceremonies (oh, the nude dancing of middle-aged people!), witchy mind control, some early 70s temporal colour, and an ending that I've found called subversive, but that is by far not subversive enough for my tastes. Isn't "that young, innocent country girl is much less innocent than the urban, middle-aged decadents" a cliché too?

"But what," I hear you, imaginary reader, ask, "of the nudity, which, as you say, is what the film was made to show? Is it adequate?"

It sure is, in that there are two very attractive - in a way that just screams "UK! 1972!" - sisters playing sisters and dropping their clothes whenever possible; there are even panty shots. Alas, I've seen just as much pleasant nudity in much more exciting films, so it's not enough to raise the film above the level of being mildly watchable unless you have a kink for manipulative witches. In the latter case, of course, I'd recommend to run, not walk, to seek it out.

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