Home Video Hovel- Virgin Witch
Pulpy film label Redemption Films has been releasing upgraded versions of sleazy old movies for years and are mostly interested in occult-themed horror exploitation romps from the 1970s. Titles like The Shiver of the Vampires, Lips of Blood and The Nude Vampire grace their website and leave not a lot to the imagination. Their newest re-release is a notorious British effort called Virgin Witch from 1972. Originally billed with a tagline that sounded like “She’ll take you on… and turn you on!”, this is a shining example of exploitation movies in which women are nothing more than objects to be lusted over. Why should we waste our precious time watching these movies? Beats me.
Shot in the countryside of England, this is the story of sisters Christine and Betty (real life sisters Vicky and Ann Michelle) who run away from home and are picked up by a man who sets them up in a house. Christine dreams of being a model. She responds to an ad for a modeling agency and is invited by Sybil Waite (Patricia Haines), the insidious owner of the agency, to spend the weekend at a country home to be photographed by a well known, but appropriately sleazy fashion photographer. Christine decides to bring Betty along for the ride, but doesn’t realize she is actually being lured into a trap set by a group of witches. After all, why would she suspect something when she is brought to a place called Wychwold. The witches need new sacrifices and the sisters fit the bill perfectly. Christine takes a liking to being a witch and wants more. She wants power and the only way to do that is to plot against Cybil with the aid of some black magic.
That’s the plot and there’s not a lot more to it. It is clear from the start that the intentions were not to tell a compelling story. Within thirty seconds, before the actual title card, we get a good look at some bare breasted women without ever getting an explanation what these images are eluding to. With that the tone is set. Sure enough, the leading ladies prance around the village in their skimpy skirts and even get their bottoms pinched without batting an eyelash. The rest of the movie is a meandering tale of two girls who are seduced by the witches of Wychwold. One would expect at least some cheap scares to liven up this horror movie a little, but none of that. Virgin Witch isn’t interested in being scary at all, it isn’t even suspenseful. It is just a boring and dated movie that requires a lot of suspension of disbelief.
With the help of the fine Blu-ray transfer from the original 35mm negative, however, the cinematography by Gerald Moss turns out to be the most interesting feature of Virgin Witch. With the help of some intense green and red lights he creates an atmosphere that takes this otherwise dreary movie to a higher level, although that level is still not very high. There is often not much sense to the usage of these colors but at least it brightens up the scenes a little. Moss also uses a hilarious faux shutter effect to simulate a camera taking naughty pictures of our leading lady. That may be one of the more amusing bits of Virgin Witch. Every bit of goodwill, however, is killed off by the performances. The sisters Michelle have exactly one look each in their repertoire. Ann, who plays Christine, is very good at looking into the camera to convey to us the notion that she means business. Vicky sticks to a routine that shows us what a dumb broad she is and shows us that she is totally oblivious as to what is going on around her. The rest of the cast doesn’t fare much better. Their performances range from adequate to completely forgettable.
The notoriety of Virgin Witch stems from the excessive nudity that is presented here, not the supposedly scary horror. The leading ladies take every opportunity to take off their clothes, either to pose for a picture, take a shower or be sacrificed in a ridiculous ritual where some people stand around in bathrobes chanting and waving. In our time, where female nudity is often a few mouse clicks away, it is hard to comprehend why this would be so offensive. It is the exploitative side of Virgin Witch that today is more disturbing. It has absolutely no qualms about being exploitative, which makes is all the worse. It is actually kind of sad to review a movie like this so seriously. It is like getting mad at a ferret for not being able to operate a remote control. You get the feeling that Virgin Witch just doesn’t know what it is doing and that it should be forgiven for that. The cast sure doesn’t forgive it, because most of them don’t want anything to do with it. I sympathize with them.