Sunday, July 17, 2016


Ray Austin, 1972
Starring: Ann Michelle, Vicki Michelle, Patricia Haines

Two sisters, Christine (Ann Michelle) and Betty (Vicki Michelle), hitchhike to London so that Christina can find a modeling job, which she does in record time, thanks to her secret psychic powers. Her new boss, Sybil (Patricia Haines), orders her to strip down for an inspection and then books her for a weekend shoot in the country at an estate known as Wychwold. Christine, Betty, and Sybil head out to the countryside, and though the house makes the virginal Betty nervous and paranoid, Christina fits right in. It turns out Gerald (Neil Hallett), the owner of the manse, and Sybil are the head of a coven of witches and Christine is eager to join. Unfortunately for the jealous, possessive Sybil, Christine’s hidden powers begin to emerge and a struggle for power begins.

If Tigon British Film Productions can be remembered for cornering the market on any particular horror trends, it’s probably satanic and folk-themed horror. In the late ‘60s and early ‘70s, they put out such classic titles as The Curse of the Crimson Altar (1968), Witchfinder General (1968), and my personal favorite, Blood on Satan’s Claw (1971). Virgin Witch (1972) is one of their more obscure entries and also one of their last — they would essentially only produce three horror films after this — and it was sadly their final satanic horror film. Though, to be fair, this one has far more of an emphasis on nudity than scares and it would be more fitting to describe it as satanic sexploitation, rather than strictly satanic horror. 

Though it is generally advertised as a satanic horror film, there is nothing particularly horrific or scary about Virgin Witch, and very little that is diabolical. It is really a tame, though enjoyable witchcraft-themed erotica film with not much in the way of plot, but loads of nudity from stars and real-life Michelle sisters Ann and Vicki. Certain comparisons can be made to Hammer’s Twins of Evil, in the sense that Virgin Witch loosely divides the pair into the good and bad sister. Christine becomes the evil twin in the sense that she wants to not only join the coven, but take it over and replace Sybil — a plot element that could have been really interesting had they done more with it. And anyone who has seen even in a single Satanic cult film should realize that the virginal Betty is set up to be some sort of sacrifice, but hilariously she is deflowered — per her request — in the middle of the woods after being chased by raving cultists… like you do. 

As for the sisters themselves, who can’t really be fairly compared to the Collinson twins of Twins of Evil, but Ann will be familiar to British horror fans for her appearance in Pete Walker’s House of Whipcord (1974) and Vicki was in the BBC’s popular ‘80s sitcom Allo Allo. Keith Buckley, who plays the boyfriend of Vicki’s character, will be familiar to horror fans for his role in Dr. Phibes Rises Again (1972), though he isn’t given a whole lot to do here. I won’t pretend that the acting is really a compelling reason to see this film, but the performances are serviceable enough to get the job done. 

Virgin Witch’s script and dialogue don’t do anyone any favors, but the Michelle sisters do spend most of their time scantily clad, though of course — and strangely I find myself writing about this subject a lot — this is yet another instance of a disappointing orgy. Here disappointing in the sense that it is implied, but absolutely none of it is shown. In general, the initial X-rating from British censors is baffling. Though there is copious nudity, some sleazy moments and a few tame lesbian scenes, there is no violence or sex. Despite these setbacks, director Ray Austin (The Saint) does a decent job with a patently ridiculous premise. Though his film is far from perfect, it is entertaining, beautifully shot, and boasts some Bava-like colored lighting. Not a whole lot happens, other than frequent disrobing, but the brief, 88-minute running keeps it from dragging too much.

Virgin Witch
isn’t the best or worst Satanic horror film from the period. The film will undoubtedly appeal more to fans of exploitation cinema or Eurotrash than anyone expecting a riff on Hammer horror, or a vampire-free version of Twins of Evil. Kino Lorber and Redemption, following in their series of horror-erotica Blu-Rays that begin with the works of Jean Rollin, have rescued Virgin Witch from obscurity and presented it in a remastered edition. Chances are, you are going to spend a fair amount of time wishing this was either Blood on Satan’s Claw or The Wicker Man, which would follow a year later, but if you keep your expectations low, there’s plenty of fun to be had.

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