Monday, August 03, 2015

Virgin Witch (1972)

A film I know only by reputation - and it's a bad reputation at that.  Effectively a sex movie/horror cross over, Virgin Witch is often dismissed by horror aficionados as poverty row smut.  Indeed, the trailer's focus on sex and nudity make it pretty clear that its aimed more at the dirty raincoat market than pure horror fans.  But the fact was that, by the early seventies, horror alone simply wasn't enough to sell a genre movie, sex was increasingly injected into the formula to widen their appeal.  Around the same time Virgin Witch was in production, Hammer, the 'respectable' face of British horror, was gleefully adding copious quantities of bared boobs, bums and lesbianism to its standard gothic fair in titles like The Vampire Lovers, Lust for a Vampire, Twins of Evil and Vampire Circus.  Sex certainly proved to be a more effective additive than Kung Fu, which they tried in Legend of the Seven Golden Vampires.  When it comes to vampirism, it's like Count Mitterhouse observes in Vampire Circus as he seduces another woman, shortly before being staked: 'One lust feeds the other'.

But to return to Virgin Witch, the film's main interest to me is that it is another product of the film-making alliance of wrestling commentator Kent Walton and soap writer Hazel Adair.  Walton hides behind a pseudonym (Ralph Solomons), whist Adair is only credited a co-writer of the theme song (she apparently didn't admit to writing the film until 1975).  Like Sex Clinic, Virgin Witch utilises a scenario ripped from the Sunday tabloids of the seventies - the likes of the News of the World , Reveille and Tit Bits were seemingly obsessed with suburban witches covens and middle class Satanists during this period, (when they weren't 'exposing 'sex clinics').  Besides, like a 'sex clinic', satanic rites give plenty of excuses for full frontal nudity and kinky sex.  Also in common with Sex Clinic, Virgin Witch features a director who appears to be slumming it somewhat.  In this case it is Ray Austin, a highly successful TV director who started off arranging the fight scenes for The Avengers, before directing episodes.  Virgin Witch also has the distinction of having been distributed by Tigon - a fact which has often been used by horror fans as evidence of that company's decline in the period running up to its sale by founder Tony Tenser.

If you want to know more about Virgin Witch, Gav Crimson has an excellent and very detailed analysis of it over at his site.



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