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Cry of the Banshee (1970)

GP | | Horror | 22 July 1970 (USA)
In 1500s England, a cruel witch-hunting magistrate, who often tortures innocent villagers for his entertainment, runs afoul of a witch who conjures a banshee to kill the magistrate and his family.


Gordon Hessler


Tim Kelly (screenplay), Tim Kelly (story) | 1 more credit »


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Cast overview, first billed only:
Vincent Price ... Lord Edward Whitman
Essy Persson Essy Persson ... Lady Patricia Whitman
Hilary Heath ... Maureen Whitman (as Hilary Dwyer)
Carl Rigg ... Harry Whitman
Stephan Chase ... Sean Whitman
Marshall Jones ... Father Tom
Andrew McCulloch ... Bully Boy
Michael Elphick ... Burke
Pamela Moiseiwitsch Pamela Moiseiwitsch ... Maid
Joyce Mandre Joyce Mandre ... Party Guest
Robert Hutton ... Party Guest
Guy Deghy ... Party Guest
Elisabeth Bergner ... Oona (as Elizabeth Bergner)
Patrick Mower ... Roderick
Victoria Fairbrother ... Margaret Donald (witch) (as Pamela Farbrother)


In Elizabethan England, a wicked lord massacres nearly all the members of a coven of witches, earning the enmity of their leader, Oona. Oona calls up a magical servant, a "banshee", to destroy the lord's family. (The "banshee" of this tale bears no resemblance to the normal usage of the term!) Written by Marg Baskin <marg@asd.raytheon.ca>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Edgar Allan Poe probes new depths of TERROR!




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Release Date:

22 July 1970 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Cry of the Banshee See more »


Box Office


$500,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


| (edited)

Sound Mix:

Mono (RCA Sound System)



Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


According to Gordon Hessler in his interview on the DVD version of this movie, the whole film was shot "at the mansion of Gilbert and Sullivan" - that is, of Arthur Sullivan and W.S. Gilbert. As they did not live together, he is probably referring to the country residence of W.S. Gilbert. See more »


This film is set in the 16th century. But in the first scene, when the girl is branded, she opens her mouth to scream and shows a full set of teeth with amalgam fillings. See more »


Lord Edward Whitman: [to the crowd partying at his castle, when they have been frightened by a wolf's howl] That mad dog that you all thought the product of sorcery is DEAD.
[glowering, he adds after a moment:]
Lord Edward Whitman: Now drink, dance, and be merry.
See more »

Crazy Credits

The end credits are divided into "The Establishment, "Witches", and "Villagers". See more »

Alternate Versions

The differences between the cut AIP version and the original edit (released on DVD in the US) are significant:
  • The AIP re-edit repositions the coven massacre scene (that occurs about half an hour into the film in the original version) as a pre-credits scene. The sequence is also slightly trimmed to eliminate some nudity and also remove the shots of Hugh Griffith observing the action.
  • The original credits are Pythonesque animations by Terry Gilliam. These animations were replaced in the AIP re-edit by stills of some of the winged creatures.
  • The music score was changed - the new music was composed by Lex Baxter. Wilfred Joseph did the original score.
  • All topless nudity was removed from the AIP re-edit. This involved trimming several scenes and re-framing others (zooming in on the "unoffensive" part of the frame). This chopped about 3m off the running time.
  • The death of Essay Persson was abridged
  • In the middle section of the film some other scenes were re-positioned in the narrative with the intent of bringing forward the appearance of the coven (in order to speed up the narrative). The version on DVD runs 91m whereas the old AIP version runs only 87m.
See more »


Edited into The Unauthorized Hagiography of Vincent Price (2014) See more »

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User Reviews

Cheesy acting and boobs galore
17 November 2005 | by spacemonkey_fgSee all my reviews

Title: Cry of the Banshee (1970)

Director: Gordon Hessler

Cast: Vincent Price


I'm trying to work my way through Vincent Prices body of work and I've seen some pretty impressive stuff like for example the really excellent Roger Corman directed The Fall of the House of Usher. The hokey and fun The Raven and most recently I had the chance to see Cry of the Banshee. How was it? Well the story is about this England ruler called Edward Whitman. He is a vicious and cold leader making fun of the poor and using his power to accusing pretty girls of being witches, just to watch em being tortured to death for their supposed religious practices. Of course he eventually stumbles upon a real coven of witches and when he decides to kill one of them, well, then their leader, a witch called Oona decides to take matters into her own hands and calls upon the spirit of the Banshee to execute revenge upon the house of Whitman.

After watching this film the first thing that came to mind was how similar it was in story to Tim Burtons Sleepy Hollow. In Burtons film the spirit of the headless horseman is used by an evil witch who has sold hel soul to Satan, to execute revenge and little by little kill off all the members of a rich elite family. On Cry of the Banshee the storyline is exactly the same. Only thing is here they use what they call a Banshee. A creature who howls in the night and lives in the "haunted woods" just like in Sleepy Hollow. The similarities don't stop their, so Ill just leave it up to you to find them. But these similarities make perfect sense to me since Tim Burton is such a Vincent Price fan. It seems to me that this might have been one of Burtons childhood favorites and was an obvious inspiration for Sleepy Hollow.

Banshee also deals with religious themes of Christianity vs. witchcraft. Though I must admit that you wont know who to root for in this movie since they were both bad guys in my book. First there's Whitmans religion which is obviously Christian, yet he is a cold hearted and soulless bastard who takes pleasure in torturing the poor and oppressed. And then there's the witches, and in this movie they are devil worshipers hell bent on revenge. They indulge in calling Satan their "lord and master" and use voodoo dolls to cause pain and death to their enemies. So you see, there's no good guys to root for in this movie, everyones a bastard and looking to step on the other. Which, if you ask me is the way real life is anyways.

The movie is filled to the top with cheesy acting and unrealistic performances. Its all very campy, very theatrical and over the top. But I guess most of Prices movies where done in this fashion since I've yet to see one where this wasn't the case, so I just go with it and enjoy the sheer cheesiness of it all. But of course Price outshines everyone here because he hams it up, yet he takes it so seriously! You can see the guy just relished in taking a role and elevating its cheesiness to higher levels. It was also interesting to see him do a completely evil character with no likable character traits whatsoever. I've seen Price do evil before, and even when he is evil he is often times likable...but this is not the case.

The Banshee itself, the titular creature, was left out from most of the film. He is reduced to appearing in shadows and in silhouette until the grand finale when he decides to show his ugly face. The make up is suttle yet effective.

On the bonus side, this flick has so much gratuitous breast shots that it actually become funny for me to count how many boobs they were going to show! Just when you thought you had your obligatory boob shot...up pops another one. It seemed like every time some dude wanted to ask a girl if she was a witch, it was obligatory to open up her blouse with a knife and let the boobs do most of the talking. Heh, it kept me amused but also kind of felt overdone and unnecessary.

All in all a nice film, but I'm sure Vincent Price had better films under his belt. By the way, I keep hearing Vincent Prices film The Conqueror Worm (aka Witchunter General) as a far superior "hunt down the witches and burn em" flick. I guess Ill do my best to hunt that one down.

Rating: 3 out of 5

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