I’ve nearly completed my look at all of the Hammer films currently available on Blu-ray on the UK. The film I’m reviewing here The Witches, known as The Devil’s Own in the US stars Joan Fontaine. It comes with both Blu-ray and DVD so if you are yet to take the leap into Blu-ray you can still enjoy this release. Although I’d highly recommend picking up a Blu-ray player as a good one can be had for around £50. I’m somewhat of a Hammer fan and love seeing them being restored and released on to Blu-ray. So without further ado here’s my The Witches (1966) Blu-ray Review.
- The Witches (1966)
- Genre: Horror
- Directed by Cyril Frankel
- Running Time: 91 Mins
- UK Rating 12
- Discs: 2 (Blu-ray & DVD)
- Released By Studiocanal
- Blu-ray Released: 21 October 2013
Schoolteacher Gwen Mayfield (Joan Fontaine) is driven out of a mission school in Africa by local witch doctors. Once back home and recovered from that ordeal she takes up a position at a school in a small village. However all is not quite as it first appears. Firstly Alan Bax the person whom offered her the job did so posing as a man of the cloth but upon Miss Mayfield’s arrival she discovers he is not. Alan and his sister Stephanie seems an odd pair but then again so do many of the villagers.
What could possibly be going on in such a small community?
Style / Direction
The film is directed by Cyril Frankel whilst the cinematography is handled by Arthur Grant. The village looks fabulous and really gives that small slightly inward looking community. Overall the look and feel captured delivers an intriguing horror-thriller. If anything lets the film down it would be the drawn out ending that fails to satisfy.
Music / Audio Effects
The music is composed by Richard Rodney Bennett.
Acting / Characters
Joan Fontaine plays school teacher Gwen Mayfield, she’s an intelligent and strong willed character. The performance is rather good and has fully invested in her characters plight for two thirds of the film. The films other main character is another strong female performance with Kay Walsh taking on the role of Stephanie Bax. These two become the central characters and do so remarkably well.
Meanwhile Alec McCowen plays the brother Alan Bax a rather weak willed guy that appears to be conflicted with his loyalties and what the right thing to do is. He copes by pretending to be a man of God surrounding himself with items and sounds you would expect to find in a church.
- Joan Fontaine as Gwen Mayfield
- Kay Walsh as Stephanie Bax
- Alec McCowen as Alan Bax
- Ann Bell as Sally Benson
- Ingrid Brett as Linda Rigg
- John Collin as Dowsett
- Michele Dotrice as Valerie Creek
- Gwen Ffrangcon-Davies as Granny Rigg
- Duncan Lamont as Bob Curd
- Leonard Rossiter as Dr. Wallis
- Martin Stephens as Ronnie Dowsett
- Carmel McSharry as Mrs. Dowsett
- Viola Keats as Mrs. Curd
- Shelagh Fraser as Mrs. Creek
- Bryan Marshall as Tom
Conclusion – The Witches (1966) Film Review
The Witches is a decent Hammer offering but not an outstanding one. It starts off well and continues to be compelling viewing for two thirds of the film. As the film should be reaching its climax it somehow fails to really delivery. The ending seems to be paced poorly and ultimately results in an ok but predictable ending.
It’s certainly worth a look if you love Hammer films like I do.
If you enjoyed my The Witches Blu-ray Review so far you may want to check out the following films:
- Fear in the Night (1972)
- Night of the Demon (1957)
- The Devil Rides Out (1968)
- To The Devil A Daughter (1976)
The Witches Blu-ray Review
Studiocanal deliver yet another flawless Blu-ray release in terms of picture quality. There’s nothing to complain about the image is sharp and there are no marks to report.
On the extras side there’s a 42 minute documentary that focuses on Hammer glamour. There’s no extras specific to The Witches only a general look at Hammer which is not in keeping with Studiocanal’s other Hammer titles.
- Hammer Glamour Documentary (42 mins)
On to my movie rating for The Witches (1966)
- Movie Rating: WELL WORTH WATCHING
- Blu-ray Picture: EXCELLENT
- Extras: OK
The Witches (1966) is available now on Blu-ray.
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For those of you yet to see the film I’ll leave you with a little taster…
Clip may not be representative of the Blu-ray version
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Director(s): Cyril Frankel
Actor(s): Joan Fontaine, Kay Walsh, Alec McCowen, Ann Bell, Ingrid Brett, John Collin, Leonard Rossiter
- Movie Rating
- Blu-ray Picture Rating
A decent Hammer horror offering
- Hammer Film
- Excellent Blu-ray Release
- Ending A Little Too Drawn Out
- No Film specific Special Features