The Witchmaker (William O. Brown, 1969)

posted in: Duane, Review | 0
A group of psychic researchers investigate a series of unsolved murders in the Louisiana bayou. They uncover more than they bargained for when one of their group is targeted for assimilation by a local coven of witches.
Holy fuck, talk about wasted potential. A group of hot 60s sluts and a couple dudes travel through the Louisiana bayou to do some psychic research under the guise of scouting film locations. The area is so remote that the cabin doesn’t even have a phone line (but has electricity inexplicably) and the old man who ferries people about won’t return for a full 5 days. Soon we find out that there have been a series of murders of beautiful young girls in the area (in a remote location in the middle of a swamp…riiiiiight) and that a local coven is behind the grisly slayings. So already we have the setup for a pretty awesome movie; hot naked sluts, devil worship, dead naked sluts, witchcraft… how do you fuck that up? Easy – never fucking show anything.
COSDS-The-Witchmaker00035The Witchmaker could have easily been made into something outstanding had they not been apparently terrified of the censors at the time of filming. The ladies in question are quite willing and able to go sunbathing topless, but instead of making it awesome, their girly bits are obscured by a well placed tree branch or an awkward camera angle. At one point the main hot chick ends up running topless through the woods, but cupping her tits in her hands the whole way. WTF? Even the kill scenes have so much sleaze potential; the killer clubs the poor lasses over the head, forcibly rips their tops off and strings them up by their feet, slashing their throats to collect the sweet sweet nectar that flows through their veins. The camera jarringly obscures all of this of course so it takes place just off screen; I think the goriest scene is one of a bucket getting a little bit of blood flowing into it. Yes, this movie is a total cock tease – but it’s not all bad.
COSDS-The-Witchmaker00015Once one gets over the lack of titties and blood there’s a very fun and well executed film to be enjoyed here. The ladies are all very nice to look at, and scantily clad. The dialogue is at times stilted, the acting can be wooden, yet The Witchmaker manages to pull it all off very well. The scenes with Luther the Berserk worshipping at Satan’s dark altar of blasphemy are fucking awesome, including probably the coolest devil statue I have ever seen. The story is engaging, with the coven (and they pronounce it “coe-vinn” – Mark Borchardt would be proud) comprised of many colorful diabolical characters. The satanic rituals, while completely fabricated are a ton of fun and oddly convincing; an obvious attempt to cash in on the satanic cult craze of the late 60s. You will be chanting “Satan! Give me my purpose!” along with them in no time flat.
COSDS-The-Witchmaker00009As obvious as it is that the film was made on the cheap, it still manages to create a nice spooky atmosphere largely due to the location. There is an abundance of gloomy moonlit shots outside the cabin with the swamp mists rolling across the ground, obfuscating the distance to wonderful effect; there’s something about this film that just feels right. The Witchmaker exudes a charm that few horror films have ever truly achieved, and that actually manages to make up for its lack of violence and sleaze. There is a presence here that can’t be denied, whether it was intentional or not is anybody’s guess.
Recommended for those with a taste for atmosphere who won’t miss the T&A and gore that much. Also anyone into devil cult or films involving witchcraft will want to seek this out ASAP.
Official COSDS Nunspank Rating: 
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Duane co-founded The Church of Splatter-Day Saints in 2005. When not immersed in film he's enjoying good whiskey, smoking meat in the backyard or thinking about sluts. He makes a damn fine habanero fire sauce.

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