Virgin Witch (1972)

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Tigon, Tigon, Tigon, oh dear what were you thinking? For anyone not associated with the name Tigon they were possible contenders for the crown of British Horror making some spectacular films back in the day like Blood on Satan’s Claw and Witchfinder General. Films which remain in my top titles of horror to this very day. It was a sad fact though that they just did not make the grade when compared to Hammer, and Virgin Witch is a typical example why. Directed by ex stuntman Ray Austin this movie is testament to why Austin was better off directing and writing in television, which was something he did quite a bit of, working on shows such as The Avengers, The Man from U.N.C.L.E, The Saint, Zorro, Magnum, Quincey and many other TV staples of the 70s and 80s. But then given the distinct lack of plot direction and appalling script it would have taken a far more talented and seasoned pro to make something of this one.

The premise for this film is quite a simple one, with a plot devised solely to have lead actress Ann Michelle cavorting around with her kit off for the most part. Now nudity is not necessarily a bad thing let’s not be prudish, but it needs to have a reason, and be part of a developing plot, and for Virgin Witch the term plot is sadly lacking. Basically the story follows out of work Christine played by Ann Michelle, who seems to have some latent psychic power which is not explained. Down on her luck and sharing a place with her sister Betty (played by real life sister Vicki Michelle) Christine takes the bull by the horns and presents herself to fashion model agent Sybil Waite, as she thinks she has what it takes to make it. Of course Waite has the perfect job, but it might mean Christine having to take her clothes off. Of course Christine does not have a problem with this giving the lecherous Ms Waite a good eyeful in demonstrating her wares, and so she travels to a mansion in the middle of nowhere to take on her new assignment. Betty is a bit worried and decides to come down for the weekend as chaperone ignoring the advice of her boyfriend Johnny. Now without giving too much away not that the title doesn’t, the mansion is also a base for a witchcraft coven, and with Betty being a virgin the sisters soon find themselves of obvious interest to this spellbinding clan.

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Neither of the Michelle sisters are particularly proud of this feature, Ann (Psychomania, House of Whipcord)  stating on her promo material as it is an experience she does not care to remember, and Vicki omitting it altogether as if she wishes it never happened. For anyone not familiar with Vicki, now an MBE no less, she played a lead role of waitress Yvette, one of the  love interests to hen pecked bar owner Rene, in 80s popular sitcom ‘Allo ‘Allo. Never again will I see her in the same light! For fans of the latterly mentioned 80’s comedy show, Virgin Witch for all its misgivings is worth seeing for this novelty factor alone. For the rest of the characters Patricia Haines as Cybil Waite commanded neither presence or menace as the female coven head, and Neil Hallet as Dr. Amberly was just plain pervy and revolting. No doubt he relished his role and for the main part he got to prance around with the naked, glamorous looking, and considerably younger, Ann Michelle. James Chase as the photographer Peter was bit of an odd character as his sole purpose was to provide an excuse for Ann Michelle to parade around yet again naked, which while he probably had the best view for the most part, he really did not have a purpose and came off as a bit awkward. There was also Johnny played by Keith Buckley as the boyfriend of Betty who was equally as weak as the supposedly streetwise wheeler and dealer.

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In terms of pace this movie rolled like a snail, 3/4’s of it devoted to nudity or near nudity shots. When the action kicks in you are just so bored it does nothing to whip you back from the brink. I stayed with it though right though to the end, Satanist/ witchcraft films are a guilty pleasure of mine I must say and especially for the 60s and 70s ones I always look forward to some psychedelic mad worshippers cavorting around. There was some of this, but it did not compare to  Hammer’s The Witches (1966), which has plenty of mad satan worshippers dancing in its climax and does not have to rely on woman’s breasts and bare asses. The script really does not follow any build up and things are just introduced without reason which spoils the film. Perhaps more emphasis on character development and less on Ann Michelle’s knickers could have improved matters. What develops in the first half is mainly a series of shots of Ann with her breasts out, Ann getting in and out of the shower, Ann chatting to her sister while in different states of undress, or wearing the shortest mini skirt I have ever seen.

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Virgin Witch is often touted as an exploitation film although it has nothing of the sleaziness or indeed the charm of its European counterparts. While it is packed to the hilt with bare ladies it has a distinctly British feel, and comes off as just too polite to work. It manages to be very sanitized and this could be down to the lack of talent on the writers part, or maybe the lacklustre performances, but there is something missing here. Even the sex scenes just seem tame, there is no horror to be found apart from the sight of Dr Amberly in his sexual frolicking. You can almost imagine the actors all sat round having a nice pot of tea and a crumpet between takes apologising to each other. It is shot well enough, but it does not manage to capture any atmosphere or menace unfortunately and even as it builds to its climax there just no tension there.

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Filmed on location in Surrey at country house Pirbright, Admirals Walk the house was to feature in two further films, thankfully not directed by Ray Austin, Satan’s Slave (1976) and Terror (1968) making the house’s filmography considerably more extensive than some of the Virgin Witch cast member’s.

Not one of my most in depth reviews but then there is not really much to say about this movie, other than it is mildly entertaining to see why the Michelle sisters are so embarrassed about it. With a title like Virgin Witch I expected so much more but then I guess I got that in some form being so much more acquainted with Ann Michelle’s naked body than I care to be. A mild distraction for 70’s softcore fans at best.

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Categories: 70's horror, Reviews, Witchcraft and Satanic

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