Virgin Witch
U.K. | 1972
Directed by Ray Austin
Starring
Ann Michelle
Vickie Michelle
Keith Buckley
Color | 88 Minutes | R
Format: DVD (R1 - NTSC)
Image Entertainment
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2012 Blu-ray edition
Review by
Brian Lindsey
 
4
    4   10 = Highest Rating  
Virgin Witch is a silly supernatural sexploitationer — actually quite sleazy for a British film of its day — that ultimately doesn't go much of anywhere. When the end credits roll, one is left musing, "So that's it, then?" Nonetheless, the pic isn't a total waste of time. The yummy Michelle sisters show us their naughty bits every few minutes. "Naked Witch" would've been a better, more accurate title. (Unfortunately it'd been used before, twice in 1964 alone.)
    College-age sisters Christine and Betty run away from a restrictive home and make their way to London for a little excitement and, they hope, employment. The older, worldlier sister, Christine (House of Whipcord's Ann Michelle, who's actually the younger of the Michelle siblings), thinks she might try her hand at modeling — she's certainly got the figure for it. Waifish, virginal Betty (Vicki Michelle) isn't so sure, warning Sis not to respond to any ads posted on public notice boards. Which is exactly what Christine does, of course. After all, their luck's been excellent so far... Stranded on the road to London, the girls were rescued by a nice, handsome chap named Johnny (Keith Buckley) who's been kind enough to let them stay at his flat until they get their finances together. (That he's taken quite a shine to Betty probably has something to do with his philanthropy.) With things going so well, thinks Christine, why not go for the brass ring?
    Although lacking any professional experience, she applies for a modeling position at a supposedly prestigious agency. (If it's so classy, then why is it advertising on public notice boards? She doesn't bother to consider this.) The agency's aloof director, Sybil Waite (Patricia Haines), at first seems like a cold, blunt customer but warms considerably to Christine once she's seen her naked and personally taken her measurements. And wouldn't you know it? A job magically presents itself with the interview still in progress. A client needs a model — on very short notice — for a photo shoot at a country manor that very weekend. Is Christine game? Naturally she agrees, asking if it'd be okay to bring her little sister along. Why, of course, my dear...
    Sybil is a predatory lesbian. She uses modeling jobs as bait to lure attractive, naοve young women not just into her bed, but also the pagan coven she heads as high priestess. Almost immediately she sensed Christine would make an ideal recruit for both. What Sybil doesn't know is that Christine isn't quite as naοve as she'd have people believe — she's also one of those rare people gifted with untapped supernatural powers, one who is "born to be a witch." Underestimating those powers will have consequences the haughty priestess could not have imagined.
    Virgin Witch starts promisingly enough; the initial scenes deliberately dispense with conventional establishing shots and are edited in an interesting fashion. The acting, by just about everyone involved, is of a much higher caliber than I expected. (Haines, as the villainous Sybil, stands out among the players.) But once the girls arrive at Witchwold Manor the pace slows to a crawl. It screeches to a dead stop during the scene in which Johnny, back in London, listens to an ex-girlfriend perform a lame song in a nightclub — the whole damn song. Suspense is practically nil. Basically, after the first 20 minutes, the movie doesn't have much going for it except Ann and Vickie (mostly Ann) frequently shedding their clothes.
    Speaking as an American heterosexual male, I have to say that a pretty, perky-bristolled byrd with a lilting Brit accent is one of the sexiest combinations ever (at least I've always thought so); the Michelle sisters certainly fit the bill. This movie leers at them, Dirty Old Man style, at virtually every opportunity. Despite bringing women characters to the fore, Virgin Witch was made with horndog sensibilities firmly in mind — indeed, the very first shot is of a woman's naked breast. Talk about cutting to the chase! All this lecherous ogling is fine and dandy, but the filmmakers almost forgot they were making a horror movie, too. Supernatural elements are relegated strictly to the background, reduced to "McGuffin" status until very near the end... Christine, discovering her latent power, quickly skims a book on magic and presto! — she's able to cast a spell that turns the tables on Sybil. The coven's rituals are rather laughably depicted as well, as the sight of mostly saggy, middle-aged naked people convulsing with seizures (I refuse to call it "dancing") can't be taken even semiseriously. Yep... Just about everyone in the film eventually gets naked one way or another. Even those you wish hadn't.

Image's R1 edition of Virgin Witch looks much better than I expected via a clean and colorful, if somewhat soft, anamorphic 1.85:1 transfer. (It's too dark in some of the outdoor night scenes, but this may well be the way they were shot.) The presentation is marred only by the flat, sometimes rather muffled audio; you'll be grabbing for the remote to turn the volume up and down during lengthy sections of the film. An image gallery and the original U.K. trailer comprise the extras. 9/26/06
UPDATE The Image DVD (reviewed here) went OOP about a year after its release. In March 2012 Redemption is issuing a remastered edition on R1 DVD and Blu-ray.
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