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The Witches (1966)

 -  Horror  -  February 1967 (USA)
5.9
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Ratings: 5.9/10 from 1,240 users  
Reviews: 41 user | 32 critic

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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Cast

Complete credited cast:
...
Gwen Mayfield
Kay Walsh ...
Stephanie Bax
...
Alan Bax
Ann Bell ...
Sally Benson
Ingrid Boulting ...
Linda Rigg (as Ingrid Brett)
John Collin ...
Dowsett
Michele Dotrice ...
Valerie Creek
Gwen Ffrangcon Davies ...
Granny Rigg (as Gwen Ffrangcon-Davies)
Duncan Lamont ...
Bob Curd
...
Dr. Wallis
Martin Stephens ...
Ronnie Dowsett
Carmel McSharry ...
Mrs. Dowsett
Viola Keats ...
Mrs. Curd
Shelagh Fraser ...
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:

WHAT DO "THE DEVIL'S OWN" DO AFTER DARK? See more »

Genres:

Horror

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Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

February 1967 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

The Devil's Own  »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(RCA Sound Recording)

Color:

(Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.66 : 1
See  »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

This is Joan Fontaine's last big screen film. See more »

Connections

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

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User Reviews

 
"Half-baked but fair fun!"
17 October 2003 | by (Poole, Dorset) – See all my reviews

Schoolteacher Gwen Mayfield (Joan Fontaine) suffers a breakdown in Africa brought on by witchdoctors who wanted her out of the country. Having returned to England and recovered fully, she accepts the job of headmistress at a private church school in a remote village. Here she discovers that ancient voodoo rights are still being practiced, and that one of her pupils is to be sacrificed so that someone may have an after life.

Hollywood actress Joan Fontaine had won an Oscar in 1940 for her appearance in Alfred Hitchcock's Suspicion, which also starred Cary Grant but by this stage parts worthy of her talents were hard to come by. In the early sixties she bought the rights to a novel called The Devil's Own by Peter Curtis (the pseudonym for Nora Lofts) and suggested that Hammer should make it in the hope of re-establishing her career. However, the film turned out to be a box office disappointment and she made only a few TV movies thereafter. Fontaine is the sister of another veteran Hollywood actress Olivia De Haviland. Joan Fontaine had director approval for The Witches and she subsequently worked with Frankel on the stage. Frankel began his film career as a documentarist for the "Crown Film Unit" and had previously worked for Hammer on the critically acclaimed Never Take Sweets From A Stranger. During the sixties he was kept busy on TV working on a number of cult shows such as A Man In A Suitcase, Randall & Hopkirk Deceased and The Champions.

The Witches comes across as being somewhat half-baked. The script by Nigel (Quatermass) Kneale fails to generate enough tension or horror to really get the juices going, and insufficient character development prevents Fontaine from getting the most out of her part but I must be fair and say that with what she does have to do she does extremely well. Kay Walsh (Nancy in David Lean's Oliver Twist) is excellent as the laid back journalist Stephanie Bax. The film is also let down by the risible voodoo sabbat climax, which provides more giggles than shudders but there is still a lot to enjoy here. Director Cyril Frankel directs the picture with skill and the appeal of dastardly deeds going on in the seemingly tranquil and remote English countryside comes off very well in the picture's favour. Frankel is greatly aided by veteran Hammer cameraman Arthur Grant whose lighting uses the picturesque locations to full effect.


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