5.9/10
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The Witches (1966)

Not Rated | | Horror | February 1967 (USA)
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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.

Director:

Cyril Frankel

Writers:

Nigel Kneale (screenplay), Norah Lofts (novel) (as Peter Curtis)
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Cast

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

An English school missionary assigned in an African village 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

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

UK

Language:

English

Release Date:

February 1967 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Witches See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (RCA Sound Recording)

Color:

Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.66 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

In a later magazine interview, Nigel Kneale said that he was dissatisfied with the way the film had turned out. Personally, he found modern black magic practitioners to be fairly risible and he had intended to poke fun at the idea of an English coven. His blackly comic touches were removed by the production team, who wanted the film to be entirely serious. Conceding the film to be well-cast, he felt the ending lacked the necessary menace needed to avoid the unintentional-but-inherent silliness of the situation. See more »

Goofs

[All goofs for this title are spoilers.] See more »

Connections

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

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User Reviews

 
Rubber Hammer
14 July 2014 | by Leofwine_dracaSee all my reviews

Hammer Horror films usually strike with the force of a mallet: all-out exercises in suspense, sadism, bloodshed and excitement. By contrast, THE WITCHES is an atypical Hammer movie which shares the same kind of colourful tableau but a film whose thrills turn out to be decidedly anaemic, hitting with all the effect of a rubber hammer.

Now, I don't mind subtlety, but something doesn't sit right with this film. The normally reliable Nigel Kneale doesn't seem to have his heart in the material, hence the way it all turns very silly towards the end. The film it most resembles is the black-and-white chiller, NIGHT OF THE EAGLE, but that's a classy and atmospheric masterwork in comparison to this lukewarm outing.

There are things that keep you watching here, of course; there always are in a Hammer Horror. I particularly liked the depiction of rural village life in the 1960s; it's picture postcard stuff, the sort of thing to make me nostalgic for a time I never actually knew. A shame, then, that the conspiracy storyline is so insipid and slow-moving; THE WICKER MAN this ain't! Imported Hollywood starlet Joan Fontaine is good value for money, but even she can do little with either the material or her histrionic character. I ended up playing spot-the-actor with the likes of Michele Dotrice and Leonard Rossiter in an attempt to pass the time; unfortunately, this really is that dull.


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