Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Witch Deflectors On Stun!

Set your Witch Deflectors on stun as we progress through two vintage movies with reincarnation and black magic at their core.

Witchcraft is a reasonably interesting black and white B-movie. Made in Britain, it has the reserve you normally associate with flicks of that era and that location. That restraint makes the movie more effective than it probably should be given the absolute nature of the story itself which is pretty shaky in several places. Atmosphere is key to a good horror movie and this one is at least good most of the time.

It "stars" Lon Chaney in what is called in some quarters his last actual acting role, but don't look for a lot of Lon as the producers keep him out of sight save for the beginning and end of the movie -- not a bad move really. The tale begins before the start of the movie itself, three centuries before when a woman named Vanessa Whitlock was accused of witchcraft but not burned, merely buried alive. Now centuries later with urban renewal on the move, her grave is opened and she wanders the Earth seeking vengeance against the descendants of the Lanier family which put her in the ground.

The witch herself is pretty ghastly, played very successfully by Yvette Rees and with virtually no dialogue; she shows up just enough to keep you mindful of her mission and some of the appearances are very effective. While she gambols through the shadows though, the members of the Laniers she seeks to kill fend off the threat with some meager effectiveness, but the ultimate victory is made by dint of physical courage if not smarts. I will say at least one person in this movie gets it, because when she learns of the threat she tries to leave immediately -- it doesn't go as planned but at least she tried.

By the end of the movie Witchcraft you are ready for it to be over, but while the trip is uneven it's by and large worth it.

Devils of Darkness is in glorious color, and truth told makes decent use of the vibrant hues. We meet a gypsy girl named Tania (played by the beautiful Carole Gray) on her wedding day, though she is destined to become the bride of a vampire named Sinistre (Hubert Noel). Centuries later our main story begins in the same village when British tourists led by a stalwart named Baxter (William Sylvester) run afoul of the locals and their dark customs and the same vampire.

The sole survivor of the group (Sylvester of course) returns to London to seek answers and is followed by the evil forces because he has taken a pendant deemed crucial to the vampire lord. Eventually we meet our main female lead, a sultry and gorgeous redhead (Tracey Reed) who becomes snared in the vampire's plans to get himself a new bride which unsurprisingly rankles the current undead spouse.

There is quite a lot of blather and some intriguing glimpses of what passed for mid-60's pop culture in this movie, but by and large and despite its tendency to not deliver on the anticipated, it ends up doing pretty much just that in the final analysis. 

These are two acceptable horror flicks, worth the time it takes to watch them, but just. The movie are diverting but rarely compelling though littered with solid acting. I have to give tepid recommendations, but hardly would one be a lesser individual if you gave them a miss.

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