Friday, September 27, 2013

"Virgin Witch" (1971) d/ Ray Austin

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Tonight we examine another genre pic from Tigon Studios, a dated little witchcraft-fueled number that stars Ann and Vicki Michelle, and whose title promises all sorts of sordidly fleshy goodness in the name of the supernatural arts, but mostly ineffectual as anything but a showcase for the sisters' bodies, whether packed tightly into ultra-mini skirts or traipsing around, Air Supply-style, in absolutely nothing at all. Needless to say, this is a pretty light viewing experience; the only tension present here being the upper middle class prudish aversion to lesbianism ( "She fancies BIRDS!!"), which plays pretty strangely against the permissive seventies backdrop and the sexually open paganism within.
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"Oh I dunno, somefink 'bout sprawlin' atop a Citroen gets me randy..."
After much maniacal cackling and flames, ominous loungey-sounding jazz, and bare bobblers, we see Betty and Christine (Vicki and Ann Michelle) catching a lift in Johnny's (Keith Buckley) Mustang to London, where they squabble over men, window shop, and get goosed in the street while trying to score decent modeling gigs, until Christine picks up the latest ish of Nova (the haute couture fashion mag, not the highbrow Carl Sagan scientificky business on PBS, you donkeys) and sets up an interview with Sybil Waite (Patricia Haines), a haughty lesbian who takes her nude measurements, personally. Sybil drives the sisters to a country estate for what looks like a weekend photo shoot on the surface, then gives Christine a tour of the place, pointing out several historic witchy sites, in the process. I'm sure it's just quaint local history, and not virginal sacrifices or indoctrination into a coven of modern witches, or anything like that, darlin'. She assures her new sour-pussed employer that she's a career girl, and that there isn't a man living who could divert her focus, also finding the supernatural to be a fascinating subject. Peter (James Chase), the photographer who's allergic to shirt buttons, snaps some phoned-in nudes of Christine around the estate, while Betty discovers a curiously decorated chamber with devil masks and daggers in the basement, is spooked by an upper-class twit with a rifle, and spied upon in the tub by Dr. Amberley (Neil Hallett).
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"Maybe you left your rubber johnnies with your shirt buttons..."
Amberley comes clean over a splendidly marvelous dinner with candles and wine(just like Christmas!), that he is, indeed, a witch, but of the good, suburban seventies white swinger variety, using his powers of witchery for friendship and giving pleasure, and other such rot. He tells a receptive Ann she was born to be a witch, and warns Sybil to keep her black magic out of his coven. Meanwhile back in London, Johnny investigates Betty's whereabouts while the aptly named lounge singer that he's been linked to, Abby Darke (Helen Downing), belts out a melancholy tune. Then there's a groovy oiled-up naked bit where everybody strips out of their ceremonial terrycloth numbers and sways back and forth while the old warlock ferrets up in the witch-to-be's privates, all ceremonial-like, innit? Sybil pitches a sapphic alliance with the new spellcaster while Amberley volunteers himself as her tutor-in-hocus pocus, but Christine's more interested in the power of the black arts. Johnny makes the scene and outs Sybil as a "bird fancier" to Betty, while Christine sets fire to an 8" x 10" of the current high priestess out in the woods with her mind, giving her quite a migraine, indeed. The action climaxes in Betty's witch initiation, with orgiastic cultists reduced to animals writhing in the grass, while Christine influences Sybil to a sayonara swan dive from the roof. Who's coven? Christiiiiine's coven, bitches...

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"This new Englebert Humperdinck long player really sends me!"
Ann Michelle would go on to appear in things like The Death Wheelers(1973) and House of Whipcord(1974), while Vicki, who doesn't seem to have taken very many positives away from her experience on the set of tonight's review, would appear in Queen Kong(1976) before a long, memorable run on BBC's 'Allo 'Allo, among others. Keith Buckley,  you'll no doubt recall as Uryens in Boorman's Excalibur(1981)...ahem. Or maybe not. Austin would helm the South African House of the Living Dead(1974) before returning to the small screen. The initial shock of the film's gratuitous levels of nudity wears off after roughly ten minutes, and little else remains to keep the viewer's attention afterwards. Still, the Michelle's (Vicki more than Ann, for this guy, personally), nude or otherwise, aren't the most awful thing you could spend an hour and a half ogling like a flesh-mad pervert. For them, and the groovy magic ceremonies, Virgin gets it's cherry Wopped, twice over. Worth a look.

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The dark lord and master requests a private, nude, interpretive frug over by the sofa, darlin'.  photo nu2w_zps47906b42.jpg

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