Friday, 7 August 2015

THE NAKED WITCH












d. Larry Buchanan (1961)

She's a Witch! And she's naked! Could this film get any better? Well, no, not really as, despite its no budget look and sound (about the standard of a home movie with dialogue recorded on a dictaphone in an aeroplane hanger), it's actually rather good.

Starting off with a ten minute prologue on the history of witches, this film does little wonders with scant resources. Despite some confusion over when the Dark Ages were, the prologue manages to be informative and engaging using only a reverberating voice over, a rostrum camera and a reproduction print of The Triumph Of Death by Peter Bruegel, a work of hideous imagination and horrific detail. 

After this comes an interesting if somewhat familiar tale of resurrection and revenge in the unusual setting of a German community in Texas. When a student rather foolishly pulls the stake out of the heart of the corpse of a long dead witch, the sorceress comes back (naked, and considerably more coiffured and made up than in the flashbacks) to murder the ancestors of her original accuser. It sounds fairly hackneyed and, yep, it's super cheap, but the dialogue is intelligent (although delivered poorly) and the story trajectory comes in at a pleasing angle. Despite the title, there's no smut and the witch is generally obscured by shadow, a negligee or, occasionally, a black smudge on the screen. There is some twilight skinny dipping.

The soundtrack is less successful, mainly sounding like a slightly inebriated man in the corner of the room prodding an over-amplified Bontempi organ but, just before she gets re-staked, the witch does a sensual interpretive dance routine to a really great exotica track, so even that works out in the end.    

So, yes, an unexpected hit. That said, even if it had been appalling I wouldn't have cared, I'm just here to enjoy myself.

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