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The Witches (1966)

Not Rated | | Horror | February 1967 (USA)
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2:14 | Trailer
Following a horrifying experience with the occult in Africa, a schoolteacher moves to a small English village, only to discover that black magic resides there as well.

Director:

Cyril Frankel

Writers:

Nigel Kneale (screenplay), Norah Lofts (novel) (as Peter Curtis)
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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Joan Fontaine ... Gwen Mayfield
Kay Walsh ... Stephanie Bax
Alec McCowen ... Alan Bax
Ann Bell ... Sally Benson
Ingrid Boulting ... Linda Rigg (as Ingrid Brett)
John Collin John Collin ... Dowsett
Michele Dotrice ... Valerie Creek
Gwen Ffrangcon Davies ... Granny Rigg (as Gwen Ffrangcon-Davies)
Duncan Lamont ... Bob Curd
Leonard Rossiter ... Dr. Wallis
Martin Stephens ... Ronnie Dowsett
Carmel McSharry Carmel McSharry ... Mrs. Dowsett
Viola Keats Viola Keats ... Mrs. Curd
Shelagh Fraser ... Mrs. Creek
Bryan Marshall ... Tom
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Storyline

An English school missionary assigned in an African village has a run in with the local witch doctor and suffers a nervous breakdown. After recovering back in England she takes a job teaching in a small country town hoping to make a new start for herself. All goes well at first, until she starts to hear some disturbing stories about the town. She soon discovers the town is home to a coven of witches and they plan to sacrifice a local girl in one of their rituals. Written by Kevin Steinhauer <K.Steinhauer@BoM.GOV.AU>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

A STRANGER IN A TOWN THAT HAS LOST ITS MIND ...IF SHE'S NOT CAREFUL, SHE MAY LOSE HER'S TOO! See more »

Genres:

Horror

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

UK

Language:

English

Release Date:

February 1967 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Witches See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (RCA Sound Recording)

Color:

Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.66 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Based on the novel 'The Devil's Own' by Norah Lofts, under the pen name of Peter Curtis, it was released in America under that title. See more »

Goofs

[All goofs for this title are spoilers.] See more »

Quotes

Gwen Mayfield: Look at this! Stuck full of pins and it's head missing. What do you think it could possible be?
Stephanie Bax: Witchcraft? Somebody having a little dabble? Yes, I would think so. Or did you think I was going to say, no no no, it can't happen here? I bet there are lots of remote spots where remnants of witchcraft are still practiced. Places like Heddaby, in fact. I've often wondered.
Gwen Mayfield: Well, what are we going to do?
Stephanie Bax: Do? Ah.
Gwen Mayfield: Well, I'd like to start by removing those pins.
Stephanie Bax: Yes, we could- Oh, no! Emphatically not! ...
[...]
See more »

Connections

Referenced in Quatermass and the Pit (1967) See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

Witch me a skin for dancing in ... quick, where's that athame?
16 December 1999 | by GothickSee all my reviews

The Witches, which is much better known in America by its US release title The Devil's Own, is one of those legendary films made great because the supporting actress completely upstages the star. (Think Grayson Hall in Night of the Iguana, or Sylvia Miles in Midnight Cowboy.) In her autobiography, Miss Joan Fontaine, who had acquired the film rights to the novel years before, complains at length about the "primitive" working conditions at Hammer studios, the small size of her dressing room, the awful food and the unprofessional British actors she had to lower herself in working with. We all know that the real bee in her bonnet was that a movie she had basically designed as a vehicle for HER talents ended up being taken over by Miss Kay Walsh, a superb dancer and talented actress who had had an extensive career in films and theatre (check out her IMDB listing--you'll be impressed). Luckily Fontaine was (to her credit) too much of a pro herself to let her dissatisfaction show on screen. She turns in a credible performance as a woman teacher attempting to recover from a traumatic encounter with witch doctors in Africa by taking a slow, quiet gig in an apparently sleepy, quaint olde English village. Well, guess who rules the roost in this town? As the title clues you in, it's none other than ... the Witches!!!

As boss witch supreme Stephanie Bax, a character one of the reviewers of the time described as a "lesbian-like writer," Kay Walsh dominates the action from the moment she appears. Of all the various witch films of the Sixties, this one probably has the most realistic atmosphere and the most plausible plot. The traditional opposition between village wise women (capably embodied here by Gwen Ffrangcon-Davies as Granny Riggs--be sure to keep an eye out for her stogie-chomping aristo witch in 1967's The Devil Rides Out) and the kind of ceremonial magician played by Miss Walsh is portrayed quite matter-of-factly in the script. The kind of witchcraft practiced both by the Walsh and the Ffrangcon-Davies characters is a pretty accurate portrayal of practices actually current in Sixties England, for instance in the circles around Robert Cochrane and other figures who were gaining a lot of media attention in those days. The campy elan of Miss Walsh's dances as High Priestess (one wonders how they dealt with all the hot wax that must have flown off the lit candles in that antler-crown of hers) is very London West End on one level, yet also seems a poetic evocation of a learned ceremonial magician taking over a traditional village circle for her own corrupt ends on another level. Excellent work by Miss Walsh and the choreographer.

Also worthy of mention is the appearance of Martin Stephens, who made memorable such earlier Sixties fantasy films as The Innocents and Village of the Damned (in which he had the unenviable task of acting opposite George Sanders--who hated children!). Martin retired from films shortly after appearing in the Witches. Among the others, Alec McCowen turns in a brilliant little gem of a performance as Kay Walsh's traumatized brother.

For all its excellence, Hammer historians give second place for this film to Don Sharp's 1964 outing, Witchcraft. Let's hope somebody hurries up and releases that one on home video soon!


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