That Sly Come Hither Stare…It’s Witchcraft!
Don’t forget November is Psycho-Delic 60s month! I will be reviewing only horror films from the 1960s and posting a top ten list for each year of the decade. I have watched a spectacular amount of films from the 1960s in the past few weeks. I’ve seen well over half of the decade’s horror films thus far. As well as watching titles I have not seen, I am re-watching films that I have not seen since starting this blog (going on almost 4 bloody years!). I will go into specifics on the stats when I post my first top ten list in November. It turns out films about witches and witchcraft were kind of a popular subject in the 1960s. Six titles on this list are from the decade! I would say there is a better than average chance you will see these six films on my top ten list for its corresponding year. A special mention to Witchfinder General which is a film about a witch hunter who doesn’t actually kill any witches. I highly recommend Witchfinder General but I figured I would stick to films that actually had a witch (or witches) in them. Let us begin the bewitching!
Directed By: Georgi Kropachyov & Konstantin Yershov
I just posted a review for Viy yesterday! To read my review of this fabulous and funky folklore tale click here.
NIGHT OF THE EAGLE (aka Burn Witch Burn) (1962)
Directed By: Sidney Hayers
My first and so far only viewing of Night of the Eagle was just last week! I rather like its alternate title Burn Witch Burn; but having seen the film really either name is appropriate enough. A teacher ripe for a senior position and well liked by his peers discovers his wife is practicing black magic. She believes she has been responsible for her husband’s success. When hubby insists on burning all her black magic trinkets she fears the worst. Night of the Eagle has an intriguing well-written story, good performances, and great visuals that kept me bewitched throughout.
HAXAN: WITCHCRAFT THROUGH THE AGES (1922)
Directed By: Benjamin Christensen
As its name suggests, Haxan: Witchcraft Through the Ages is a documentary about witchcraft through the ages. It is a series of artistic interpretations and reenactments of rituals and witch hunts and the like. The Devil played by the film’s director Benjamin Christensen looks convincingly creepy and the witches cavorting with the dark lord whilst performing all manner of sacrilege must have caused quite the controversy in 1922! Haxan is downright fascinating, visually arresting and utterly hypnotizing.
BLAIR WITCH PROJECT (1999)
Directed By: Daniel Myrick & Eduardo Sánchez
Blair Witch Project is the story of three film students who set out to make a documentary about the titular “Blair Witch”. It isn’t like a film had never been made with a hand-held camera before, but the success of the Blair Witch Project certainly started a trend of nausea-inducing handheld camera work. I have read several reviews tearing Blair Witch Project a new asshole, but I actually liked this film a lot. I mentioned in my intro that I was going to include films with witches actually in them. You could argue this film does not qualify, but I think whether or not you actually see the “Blair Witch” is left up to the viewer. The film has a nice steady build up and a great mood and tension. I must admit, my home viewing of Blair Witch Project did not live up to my theatre experience but I enjoy it nonetheless.
SUSPIRIA (1977) & INFERNO (1980)
Directed By: Dario Argento
Suspiria’s plot revolves around Suzy a new student at a dance academy. The prestigious dance academy is of course run by a coven of witches. Suspiria has appeared on many lists on this blog. I am a huge fan of Suspiria! Suspiria is an incredibly beautiful film. Inventive camera work, beautiful colors, and of course impressively staged death scenes, an excellent cast and epic soundtrack are the icing on the cake. Suspiria is a bonafide horror masterpiece and is the first in Dario Argento’s “three mothers” trilogy. The second section of the “three mothers” trilogy is Inferno. The story moves from a prestigious dance school in Germany to an apartment building in the USA. An architect named Varelli built separate dwellings for the three mothers in Rome, Freiberg and New York. Inferno is a brilliant although pretty convoluted follow-up to Suspiria. The cinematography, lighting, fantastic surreal sets and beautifully bizarre and nasty images are a feast for the eyes. Mother of Tears is the third part of the trilogy. I am hesitant to recommend Mother of Tears; although it has its moments I found it rather disappointing.
BABA YAGA (1973)
Directed By: Corrado Farina
This is not the child-eating Baba Yaga of Slavic lore. Director Corrado Farina’s film Baba Yaga was inspired by the comic strip art of Guido Crepex’s surreal and sexy adventures of Valentina. In this adventure the sassy photographer has a run-in with a witch. Wild dream sequences, Nazis, executions, a kinky doll-lady; it is not surprising that the lines between dream and reality become blurred for Valentina! Baba Yaga is a stylish, surreal, strange, sexy and beautiful 70’s pop art time capsule.
THE CURSE OF THE CRYING WOMAN (1963)
Directed By: Rafael Baledón
There was quite the surge of horrors films that came out of Mexico in the 1960s. There are some damn fine gems among them too. The Curse of the Crying Woman is one of two entries on this particular list. Amelia accepts an invitation to visit with her Aunt Selma who she has not seen in many years. Amelia notices a change in her aunt and soon finds out that she may have had sinister reasons for inviting her. The Curse of the Crying Woman is a rich but simple folklore yarn of witchcraft, curses and evil. Beautifully gothic visuals, wonderful sets, interesting characters, creative effects, and a sinister mood that will keep you mesmerized.
THE WITCH’S MIRROR (1962)
Directed By: Chano Urueta
The Witch’s Mirror is the second horror film hailing from Mexico. Mad science, a vengeful wife, possessed hands and the black arts makes for one spirited watch! I love it! Director Chano Urueta includes elements of several other horror films into his story; the final result of which ends up being something quite unique. The second half of this film is a wild ride, and there is plenty to keep you occupied getting there. The Witch’s Mirror has one of the most entertaining finales ever! Some of the effects are a little on the hokey side but they are pretty damn fun and they certainly are creative! This great, black and white gothic tale of witchcraft is a serious shitload of awesome!
CITY OF THE DEAD (1960)
Directed By: John Llewellyn Moxey
City of the Dead is about a college student prompted by her professor to do research in a tiny village and discovers a coven of witches. City of the Dead is a beautiful, atmospheric black and white horror film that is effectively eerie. From City of the Dead’s outstanding witch hunt scene to its exciting and intense finale the film is truly a gothic delight. Top notch performances and an engrossing well-written story. Although Christopher Lee receives top billing on my copy of the DVD, he actually has a supporting role and limited screen time. Lee is super fantastic but Patricia Jessel sorta steals his thunder with her dual roles and wonderfully mad cackle. A gem.
BLACK SUNDAY (1960)
Directed By: Mario Bava
Black Sunday is yet another film that has appeared on several lists on this blog; and it will not be the last. I absolutely love everything about this film! It is the story of a witch put to death by her own brother who returns 200 years later to seek revenge on her descendants. The stunning Barbara Steele takes on dual roles as Princess Asa Vajda and Katia Vajda and she is simply stunning, sweet and terrifying. One of Mario Bava’s best; Black Sunday is deliciously gothic, well-acted, beautifully filmed, eerie and atmospheric.
This entry was posted on October 25, 2012 at 7:13 pm and is filed under horror, movies with tags baba yaga, black sunday, blair witch project, burn witch burn, city of the dead, haxan, inferno, night of the eagle, suspiria, the curse of the crying woman, viy, witch's mirror. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.