BluRay/DVD Reviews


By • Apr 20th, 2006 •

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1969. 97 Minutes. 2/35:1 AR, though not enhanced for 16X9 monitor screens.

When it comes to bringing back to the light of day “lost” or “neglected” pieces of cinema, we occasionally have to rely on uncompromising mavericks who go against the grain, putting sweat and money into obscure titles. Such a deserving gem is THE WITCHMAKER. Today, in the horror/science fiction genre, most people quickly think of NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD or the original EVIL DEAD movies when it comes to “Indie” horror productions, but the good people at Midnight Video have brought back, in full widescreen glory, one of the better made and sadly ignored excursions into the supernatural. Clearly a labor of love, the Midnight Video presentation was taken from a near mint Technicolor/Techniscope print and transferred to its full 2.35:1 screen ratio.

The story, which might have helped inspire both THE LAST BROADCAST and THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT (and was shot on location in Marksville, Louisiana), deals with a group of psychic investigators arriving at an isolated bayou to look into a series of ritual/black magic murders. The group, headed by Alvy Moore (best known for his role as Mr. Kimble on the “Green Acres” TV series) are unaware that they have blundered onto the killing ground of “Luther The Berserk” (played with feral perfection by John Lodge), a powerful Satanist who has fixed his eyes upon Tasha (Thordis Brandt), who had an ancestor who was said to be a witch. Wanting at all costs to bring her into his coven, Luther summons Jessie of Coventry (Helene Winston), an old hag from the past (and a powerful witch herself) to help him. In return for her help, Luther murders one of the team and transforms Jessie into a young woman (Warrene Ott). A Sabbath is called, bringing ten powerful practitioners of the Black Arts, which results in Tasha being taken. The remaining team decide to go on the offensive and save the girl.

THE WITCHMAKER had seen video release here and abroad (and on television) in grainy, cropped versions that did it no justice. Midnight Video’s professional presentation not only has relatively bright, strong colors and clear sound, but includes as a supplement the original trailer (under the title LEGEND OF WITCH HOLLOW) and the trailer for DISCIPLES OF DEATH – a David Cass film, as well as a poster gallery.

An intelligently written film, and a DVD worth owning!

CAST: Alvy Moore, Thordis Brandt, John Lodge, Anthony Eisley, Helene Winston, Shelby Grant, Robyn Millan, Tony Benson, Burt Mustin, Susan Bernard.

PRODUCTION: Executive Producer: LQ Jones, Associate Producer: Alvy Moore,
Written, Produced and Directed by William O. Brown, Music by Jaimie Mendoza-Nava.

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