Dig the title font on that Blu-ray. Close consideration of those chunky red wedges, along with the fiery, quasi-psychedelic cover art, will probably tell you everything you need to know about Virgin Witch—most crucially, whether this kitschy concoction will be a witches’ brew to suit your taste. Produced by a bunch of British TV execs hoping to cash in on the satanic cult craze that swept over screens in the aftermath (or is that afterbirth?) of Rosemary’s Baby, the low-key Virgin Witch comes across like an extended episode of Rod Serling’s Night Gallery spiked with liberal doses of gratuitous nudity.
Virgin Witch establishes its bona fides right off the bat with some nutty opening credits, a rapid-fire whirl of jump cuts and freeze frames that incidentally provides the opportunity to ogle its three female leads in the raw. Runaway sisters Christine and Betty (Ann Michelle, Vicki Michelle) hitch a ride with Johnny (Keith Buckley), a Swinging London lothario whose mother conveniently enough happens to run a boardinghouse. It won’t be the last sheer coincidence that Virgin Witch fobs off on viewers in lieu of plot development.
The next day, the girls pound the pavement in search of gainful employ. A job board yields gems like “Pussy for sale. Ask for Kitty.” Remembering Johnny’s sage advice about avoiding scams, Betty trots off to the Labor Exchange, but Christine—who, only the night before, could miraculously see in the dark—is overcome by a premonition. Opening a glossy fashion rag at random, she turns to the very same modeling advert she’s just visualized. These scenes don’t do a whole lot to dispel the hazy aura of exploitation hanging over Virgin Witch, what with all the egregious ass-grabbing (a passerby brazenly cops a feel) and Johnny putting Betty down by calling her stupid. Yet, as it turns out, Virgin Witch was written and co-produced by women—pseudonymously, of course. The lure of filthy lucre apparently does a number on those bonds of sisterly solidarity.
Sybil Waite (Patricia Haines, at one time Mrs. Michael Caine) runs the modeling agency, but in actuality it’s only a front, doubling as a recruitment center for young nubiles destined for use in arcane witchcraft rites. After literally sizing Christina up with some measuring tape (the first of many not-so-subtle intimations of Sybil’s sexual orientation), Sybil fakes a phone call concerning a plum assignment out in the countryside. Smelling blood in the water, Christine predictably pounces on the gig. And so off they go, younger sis Betty in tow, for a wild weekend in rural Wychwold.
After Betty stumbles on an occult chapel in the basement, complete with whips on the walls, dangling chains, and a spooky mask, canny Christine quickly puts two and two together. Rather than stage the big reveal of the coven’s activities as the film’s culmination, a la Roman Polanski, Virgin Witch makes its sole bid for novelty by having Christine seek initiation, all the while plotting to take over the High Priestess role from Sybil Waite. Along the way, there are even a few stabs at what, under surer hands, might pass for milquetoast satire. Following her initiation, Christine claims, “Now I’m a witch. Now I can please myself.” Asked how her role as High Priestess has affected her career, Sybil sardonically admits, “The entire advertising industry is witchcraft, darling. Poor old public is permanently spellbound.”
Virgin Witch isn’t especially witty, suspenseful, or even very titillating, despite the nearly wall-to-wall nudity. Any humor that arises is strictly of the unintentional variety, never pushed far enough to reach the point where the designation “camp” might seem appropriate. The alleged horror is limited to creepy music, ritual activity that most closely resembles poorly executed interpretive dance, and lots of extreme close-ups on Christine’s eyes as she “does things” with her mind, while the violence is limited to one killing via—wait for it!—a dagger plunged into an herb garden. They call it sympathetic magic, but, odds are, viewers won’t be feeling very charitable. Virgin Witch is probably best seen as a would-be groovy time capsule, hearkening back to a simpler age when British horror wasn’t epitomized by traumatized hit men doing very bad things with a hammer.
Since Virgin Witch was produced, written, and directed by folks whose craft was honed to a fine edge working in British TV, the flattish televisual style—heavy on slow zooms in and out, fisheye distortion, and some wonkily rapid crosscutting—comes as no surprise. Admittedly, the indoor ritual-cum-orgy scene comes off quite nicely, flooding the spasmodically writhing nude figures with red and green gel lights. Kino's 1080p/AVC-encoded transfer looks as good as one could expect, given the age and budget of this cult film: lots of artifacts, specks and splotches, as well as some crushed blacks during outdoor nighttime scenes. However, colors are vividly rendered, with those aforementioned greens and reds dominating the palette. The LPCM stereo track is only adequate on dialogue, which tends to get easily muffled, but fares better with Ted Dick's eclectic score.
Only a theatrical trailer and photo gallery save this witchy item from riding out bareback.
Sacrifice a virgin or two along with Virgin Witch, a low-key Brit horror time capsule, given a suitably retro transfer with little in the way of bonus features by Kino Lorber.