Burn, Witch, Burn (Kino, Blu-ray)

Director - Sidney Hayers

Cast - Peter Wyngarde, Janet Blair, Margaret Johnson

Country of Origin - U.K.

Discs - 1

Distributor - Kino Lorber

Reviewer - Brad Hogue

Date - 10/01/2015

The Film (4/5)

 

Norman Taylor (Peter Wyngarde - The Innocents) seems to have it all. He's a psychology professor at a university, with a rapid career rise, a beautiful wife, a nice home and a vacation cottage on the sea. He accidentally discovers that his wife Tansy (Janet Blair - Won Ton Ton, The Dog Who Saved Hollywood) has been performing witchcraft to protect him and advance his career. Being a strict rationalist he forces her to stop and get rid of all things related to witchcraft.

 

Almost immediately things start to fall apart. He nearly gets run over, he is accused of some very improper things and it looks like he will be passed over for promotion. Tansy isn't handling things very well either, becoming hysterical and ever more fearful for Norman's life. Also, someone on the faculty seems to be orchestrating events behind the scenes. Will Norman set aside his rational beliefs in the face of black magic being used against him and save himself and Tansy?

 

Director Sidney Havers wasn't a stranger to the horror/thriller genre having already directed 1960's Circus Of Horror and an episode of The Edgar Wallace Mystery Theatre. Here he shows a deft hand at building suspense and the cinematography by Reginald Wyler is pitch perfect for black and white film. The screenplay by Richard Matheson and Charles Beaumont clips right along and is based on Fritz Leiber's short story Conjure Wife, which had been adapted previously as an Inner Sanctum film starring Lon Chaney Jr. and Evelyn Ankers (both from The Wolfman) and would be made again as a horror comedy, 1980's Witches Brew starring Teri Garr and Richard Benjamin.

 

Janet Blair was known for musicals, having been a big band singer and Wyngarde was appearing in his second horror film in a row after the previous year's The Innocents. Both have the most screen time, they largely carry the film, and have a nice chemistry between them. Peter Cushing was originally going to star but chose Captain Clegg and Wyngarde acquits himself nicely in his stead. Margaret Johnston as Flora Carr, another faculty member and friend to the Taylors, is magnetic onscreen as well.

 

The film being in black and white lends a lot of atmosphere to it and the lighting is superb. The optical effects are stand out, especially for a film of it's vintage and the last 15 minutes or so of the film aren't to be forgotten.

 

 

 

Audio/Video (4/5)

 

The film is presented in a 1080p master that preserves the film's original 1.85:1 ratio. The transfer is excellent, just a few pops and scratches here and there, the grain looks good, the blacks deep and overall I was very satisfied with the visual presentation. The film looks great.

 

Audio is presented with a DTS-HD Master Audio mono track and it sounded very clear. Dialogue and soundtrack came through clear. No subtitles are provided.

 

Extras (4/5)

 

Kino and Scorpion Releasing have included a trailer for the film, a recent interview with Peter Wyngarde, and a commentary from Richard Matheson. A commentary from Richard Matheson gets you a 4/5 if nothing else.

 

Overall

 

Burn, Witch, Burn (also known as Night Of The Eagle) is a classic of 60's British horror that pairs up well with another skeptic British horror film Night Of The Demon. The film is moody and eerie and forgive an old curmudgeon to say they don't make them like this anymore. Kino/Scorpion Releasing has presented a fine bluray of a film that deserved a good release.

 

Recommended