Cast - Ann Michelle, Vicki Michelle, Keith Buckley
Country of Origin - U.K.
Director - Ray Austin
MSRP - $19.95
Distributor - Kino
Reviewer - Scott MacDonald
The Film (2.5/5)
I have been hearing about the film Virgin Witch for a good number of years now, and have been clamoring to see it for quite some time. This excitement increased after reading Edgar Wright's article on the film declaring it his new party movie, and while I am a fan of the atmospheric British horror cinema of the 70's, I have to admit that Virgin Witch while a good little time-waster ultimately was nowhere near as good as I'd hoped it would be.
Virgin Witch as a film seems to blends the horror-erotica craze of the early 70's popularized by the lesbian horror shenanigans of Hammer Studios, and directors like Jess Franco and Jean Rollin and add it's only little twist to it. The film stars Ann and Vicki Michelle (Vicki I recognized from PBS/BBC staple 'Allo 'Allo) as a pair of sisters Christine (Ann) and Betty (Vicki) who hitchhike their way into London, and stay at the flat of Johnny, who Vicki takes an immediate liking to. The pair decide to get jobs, and Ann seemingly lucks out and falls into the world of modeling under the guidance of lesbian modeling agent Sybil Waite who invites her to a country estate that very weekend for a shoot.
Of course the shoot ends up being erotic in nature (not that this is ever an issue), and serves a double purpose. As a way for Sybil to get Ann in the sack, and to get her into the witches coven that she is a member of. Ann does join during a ceremony that may actually top the orgy scene in Short Night of Glass Dolls for the amount of naked flesh you DON'T want to see on display. After her initiation the film quickly becomes about initiating Ann, and Johnny's quest to find the country estate and catch up with Christine, before she gets herself in too deep.
Here is the thing about Virgin Witch, it has the framework of a really great atmospheric horror movie. The locations are fantastic, and in all honesty the cinematography does a great job of presenting these locations. The problem is that for a horror movie there really is no threat of anything scary, horrific, or remotely threatening. The film is almost polite in it's horror. Vicki joins the witches coven after just a few short questions, and talks her sister into it quite easily as well.
Apparently, the villain of the piece is Sybil the lesbian modeling agent, which brings me to a point that I was too oblivious to notice, but that my wife was kind enough to point out to me. For a movie with an alternate title of Lesbian Twins, this film is sure homophobic. The lesbian modeling agent is painted as the villain of the piece for essentially getting Vicki to join the coven, and trying to get into her pants. One of the characters (the photographer) even quips at one moment something along the lines that Vicki is a nice, normal girl, and not interested in that sort of thing. She spends the latter half of the film with Vicki trying to usurp control of the coven from her, and the film ends *SPOILER ALERT
with her being killed by Vicki.
* END SPOILER ALERT.
Now, I have seen erotic horror films that lacked decent horror before, the only problem is Virgin Witch seems to lack the erotic as well. The Michelle sisters seem to qualify as the films only eye candy. The entire rest of the film I had Edgar Wright's A Movie A Day quip in mind.
"Now, I'm no body fascist, but there are some actors whose naked bodies do not need to grace the silver screen. 80 per cent of those actors are in this film."
80% is being pretty conservative Edgar, most of the other cast is pretty unwatchable, and seem to have only been cast due one of two reasons.
1. I'm friends with the director.
2. This is what the budget could afford.
Now with all the bitching I'm doing you would think, why is this film getting a 2.5? Because at it's very core, even without the horror, or the erotica that it purports to have it is a damn entertaining film. It's a bad film do not get me wrong, but it is definitely worth watching at least one time for that reason alone. And while the only horror is some of naked bodies on display, the location shooting is actually pretty awesome, and does provide a decent atmosphere. Overall, I cannot recommend this as a film in either genre it is aiming for, however, it is a fun B-Movie ride, and in that regard I definitely can.
Kino/Redemption have done a pretty decent job releasing Virgin Witch into the HD landscape issuing the film in it's original 1:66:1 theatrical aspect ratio in an AVC encoded 1080p transfer. The transfer itself is solid, colors are bright, flesh tones are largely accurate, and black levels are solid. There are soft moments during exterior sequences, and there are moments of print damage throughout (specks, scratches, etc). Overall, a very solid visual presentation.
The audio is presented in an LPCM 2.0 English language track. The audio accurately matches the video in the restoration department, dialogue is clear, as are music, and effects. There was some mild hissing, but it is barely noticeable, and rarely takes away from the track.
Pretty much nothing of note, and honestly with a movie like this I would have liked something even a commentary to offer a bit of background to the piece. However, we have the films trailer, along with some Jean Rollin trailers (all in HD), and a Stills gallery with Photographs, and Promotional Artwork (also in HD).
A decent little early 70's British Erotic Horror film. Nothing overly special, but a fun ride nonetheless. The restoration is quite nice, but a little bit more work probably could have been done, that being said we're probably lucky to have this. Recommended for Eurohorror completist.