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Virgin Witch (Blu-Ray Review)

Details
Director: Ray Austin
Starring: Ann Michelle, James Chase, Keith Buckley, Patricia Haines, Vicki Michelle
Type: Color
Year: 1972
Language: English
Length: 88 min
Aspect Ratio: 1.66:1
Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC
Resolution: 1080p
Audio: LPCM 2.0
Subtitles: NA
Rating: NA
Disks: 1
Region: A

Tigon British Film Productions, a lesser sister company to Hammer and Amicus, released some of the best British satanic and witchcraft horror films of the late 1960s and early ‘70s: Witchfinder General (1968), Curse of the Crimson Altar (1968), Blood on Satan’s Claw (1971), and so on. Virgin Witch (1972) is one of their later, more obscure entries in the same vein, though with more of an emphasis on nudity than scares. Kino Lorber and Redemption, following in their series of horror-erotica Blu-Rays that begin with the works of Jean Rollin, have rescued Virgin Witch from obscurity and presented it in a remastered edition. Though Virgin Witch can’t compete with the earlier Tigon efforts, it will appeal to fans of arcane Eurosleaze and satanic film completists.

The Film

Two sisters, Christine (Ann Michelle) and Betty (Vicki Michelle), hitchhike to London so that Christina can find a modeling job, which she does in record time, thanks to her secret psychic powers. Her new boss, Sybil (Patricia Haines), orders her to strip down for an inspection and then books her for a weekend shoot in the country, at an estate known as Wychwold. Christine, Betty and Sybil head out to the countryside for the photo shoot. The house makes the virginal Betty nervous and paranoid, but Christina fits right in. It turns out Gerald, the owner of the manse, and Sybil are the head of a coven of witches and Christine is eager to join. Unfortunately for the jealous, possessive Sybil, Christine’s hidden powers begin to emerge and a struggle for the coven begins.

Though it is generally advertised as a satanic horror film, there is nothing horrific or scary about Virgin Witch, and very little that is diabolical. It is really a tame, though enjoyable witchcraft-themed erotica film, with little in the way of plot, but loads of nudity from stars and real-life Michelle sisters Ann and Vicki. Ann will be familiar to British horror fans for her appearance in Peter Walker’s House of Whipcord (1974) and Vicki was in the BBC’s popular sitcom Allo Allo (1982 – 1992). Keith Buckley, who plays the boyfriend of Vicki’s character, will be familiar to horror fans for his role in Dr. Phibes Rises Again (1972). I won’t pretend that there are a lot of solid performances in this film, but they are serviceable enough to get the job done. Virgin Witch’s script and dialogue don’t do anyone any favors, but the Michelle sisters do spend most of their time scantily clad, and do so very well.

Director Ray Austin (The Saint) does a decent job with a ridiculous premise. Though his film is far from perfect, it is entertaining and beautifully shot. Not a whole lot happens, other than frequent disrobing, but the brief, 88 minute running keeps it from dragging too much. The initial X-rating from British censors is baffling. Though there is copious nudity, some sleazy moments and a few tame lesbian scenes, there is no violence or sex.

Virgin_Witch_4

Audio/Video

Thanks to Kino Lorber and Redemption, Virgin Witch looks as good as it probably ever will. Their restored, 1080p/AVC transfer is taken from the original 35mm negative and keeps the accurate 1.66:1 aspect ratio. The print looks decent, particularly the colors and contrast, though this is not a remastered print. Some scratches, cigarette burns and moderate print damage are evident and details are somewhat blurry. Despite these issues, the fact that this obscure, little seen film even made it to Blu-ray at all is impressive.

The sole audio option included is an English language PCM 2.0 track that is mostly clear, but suffers from some muddiness and changing levels for the dialogue. The track is far from perfect, but doesn’t prevent from watching or understanding the movie in anyway and probably reflects the budgetary constraints of the original recording.

Special Features

There is a surprising lack of extras on the Virgin Witch disc. Included is a trailer for the film, plus five trailers for Jean Rollin films also released on Blu-ray from Kino and Redemption, among them The Nude Vampire, The Iron Rose, Shiver of the Vampires, Lips of Blood and Fascination. Also included is a gallery of photos – mostly nude – from Virgin Witch.

Bottom Line

Virgin Witch isn’t the best or worst satanic horror film from the period. The film will undoubtedly appeal more to fans of exploitation cinema or Eurotrash than anyone expecting a riff on Hammer horror, or a vampire-less version of Twins of Evil. Virgin Witch’s witchcraft plot is predictable, but fun. The set is lovely, and there is plenty of nudity to go around.

– By Samm Deighan

About Samm Deighan

Samm Deighan is Associate Editor of Diabolique Magazine and co-host of the Daughters of Darkness podcast. She's the editor of Lost Girls: The Phantasmagorical Cinema of Jean Rollin from Spectacular Optical, and her book on Fritz Lang's M is forthcoming from Auteur Publishing.

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