Now the Seventies was a decade that was good for a lot of things – porn soundtracks, the mighty afro, and B – Movies about Devil worshipping cults. The latter was largely down to the Satanic Panic that was borne from the ashes of the Age of Aquarius, and spread like wildfire into the eighties, where the occult and all things paranormal, (which dabbling in had previously been something you could have been prosecuted for as late as 1944), suddenly became extremely fashionable, and as everyone knows, the correct thing to do when faced with the unknown is to denounce it as evil and go hide under a bed sheet.
Of course, it’s not Ok to dabble in these things, but to be titillated by the dozens of films rather loosely based on the subject? Well that’s just keeping yourself informed isn’t it? It’s not because you find the whole thing secretly thrilling and even a little sexy ..
Um alright then ..
Now I’m not going to debate how wrong or right these films are in the portrayal of subjects that they never seem to research properly, because frankly I could care less how much you want to learn about the world around you, I just like writing about blood, guts and offensive material – but I will say this; I love a good 70’s devil cult film, and one that throws in Orson Wells for good measure is starting off with top marks before I even watched it, but those high expectations flew out the window like a monkey with wings about five minutes into this one.
The plot, such as it is, follows the young couple Frank and Lori Brandon, who are lured to the town of Lillith by the mysterious Mr Cato (Orson Wells in his drunk and fat phase) with the promise of work after the loss of their baby. The town is basically a front for a satanic cult thats sole purpose is to resurrect the dead son of Mr Cato, and until then, time must stand still, and babies are completely off the agenda for anyone who wants to live there on pain of death (pretty effective method of contraception though, I must say ..).
The film was originally titled Necromancy, but after being edited within an inch of its life was re-released as The Witching around (1980/1981). There are a lot of other incarnations of the film with other titles – Rosemary’s Disciples (jumping on the Rosemary’s Baby bandwagon I’m assuming) being one of them, that I’m assuming, if they are anything like this one, will be just awful . From the dialogue to the pathetic attempts at acting, this film is a dud from start to finish; there’s no substance, an extremely sexist portrayal of women (that we are interchangeable and good for not much more than bearing children), and the acting isn’t so much dire as just pitiful. Even the presence of a legend such as Wells, couldn’t add any semblance of tension or menace, and the grand finale of a live burial, was about as exciting as lighting a wet firework.
If the presence of Orson Wells cant save a horror film, then short of the film makers summoning an actual Devil from the pits of hell then, I’m pretty sure nothing can.