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The Witches (1966)

Following a horrifying experience with the occult in Africa, a schoolteacher moves to a small English village, only to discover that black magic resides there as well.

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(screenplay), (novel) (as Peter Curtis)
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Cast

Complete credited cast:
...
Gwen Mayfield
Kay Walsh ...
Stephanie Bax
...
Alan Bax
...
Sally Benson
...
Linda Rigg (as Ingrid Brett)
John Collin ...
Dowsett
...
Valerie Creek
Gwen Ffrangcon Davies ...
Granny Rigg (as Gwen Ffrangcon-Davies)
Duncan Lamont ...
Bob Curd
...
Dr. Wallis
...
Ronnie Dowsett
Carmel McSharry ...
Mrs. Dowsett
Viola Keats ...
Mrs. Curd
...
Mrs. Creek
Bryan Marshall ...
Tom
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Storyline

An English school teacher outposted in Africa has a run in with the local witch doctor and suffers a nervous breakdown. After recovering back in England she takes a job teaching in a small country town hoping to make a new start for herself. All goes well at first, until she starts to hear some disturbing stories about the town. She soon discovers the town is home to a coven of witches and they plan to sacrifice a local girl in one of their rituals. Written by Kevin Steinhauer <K.Steinhauer@BoM.GOV.AU>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

A STRANGER IN A TOWN THAT HAS LOST ITS MIND ...IF SHE'S NOT CAREFUL, SHE MAY LOSE HER'S TOO! See more »

Genres:

Horror

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 »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

February 1967 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

The Devil's Own  »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(RCA Sound Recording)

Color:

(Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.66 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Joan Fontaine reportedly purchased the film rights to Norah Lofts' novel (written under the nom-de-plume of Peter Curtis) and brought the project to Hammer. See more »

Connections

Referenced in Five Million Years to Earth (1967) See more »

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User Reviews

 
Nice Joan Fontaine Vehicle
14 February 2006 | by (Overland Park, KS) – See all my reviews

1966's The Witches rates in the upper half of 1960's era horror. Its not outstanding but it is very interesting. I would certainly recommend it for viewing, just don't expect a classic.

Leading lady Joan Fontaine was still an impressive screen presence at this time and she portrays the courageous but vulnerable headmistress Gwen Mayfield very well.

But - a little bit about the story. Heroine Gwen suffered a nervous breakdown when in Africa, brought on by a traumatic experience with tribal witchcraft. Gwen recovers and takes a teaching job in a quiet, out of the way English village. Little did she know that even greater horror than what she experienced in Africa awaited her! It takes her awhile to realize that the town is home to a witch's coven, a coven that she will unwillingly be admitted into.

Before we get to this point, the story unfolds with some fairly decent character development. The too-jolly meat cutter Mr. Curd, the dour Granny Rigg and her overly-protected grand daughter Linda, Linda's boyfriend Ronnie and the brother sister team of Alan and Stephanie Bax, very capably portrayed by Kay Walsh and Alec McCowen as the village leaders, are the main characters which keep life interesting for Gwen. One gets a clear sense of life in a small English village, a place where fear and superstition become horrible reality.

The problem with reviewing The Witches is, if too much of the film is detailed, the ending is predictable and viewing ruined for those who have not seen it. Keep in mind this is a Hammer film and is similar to other films of the day, such as The Plague of the Zombies, (1966, also by Hammer), and 1960's City of The Dead, (AKA Horror Hotel), to name a couple.

If you are a fan of horror, and I suspect you are if you are reading this review, then you are probably already aware of this film and its exciting conclusion. This was one of Ms. Fontaine's last major screen roles so view it for this reason if for no other.


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