England, the 16th century. Wicked Lord and corrupt magistrate Edward Whitman(Vincent Price) beats the fear of God into any villagers who follow the 'old religion'. He goes too far by massacaring members of a coven of witches led by Oona, but he spares her life, to teach her a lesson. Oona invokes a curse upon Whitman and his family. Soon an ancient creature born of fire is sent to destroy the Whitman family
Okay, the story is a bit of a mess. However its a highly enjoyable, atmospheric mess, and whilst many scenes seem to have been added for the sole purpose of baring the breasts of various female actresses, once we get into the 'curse' part of the story it finds a steely determination to keep the narrative flowing smoothly.
Vincent Price is in very fine form. Patrick Mower is also very good as 'son of the forest' Roderick. Theres fine support also from Stephan Chase who gives a great exercise in lip smacking villiany as Whitman's caddish son Sean, and theres a nice cameo from Hugh Griffith as cowardly gravedigger Mickey.
If that wasnt enough to convince you to buy this, then how about Terry Gilliam's wonderful Pythonesque opening titles(almost worth the price of admission on their own), a rousing music score by Les Baxter and it also looks great, courtesy of John Coquillion's superb cinematography. Another point of interest is that this film seems to take the side of the witches, as Whitman's brood are a thoroughly despicable bunch, and the witches reluctantly take action only when provoked.
The only real negative is the lack of decent extras, but this is an Optimum releasse of a Brit Horror, so I shouldnt have expected any different. I suppose we should all be grateful that at least one company is releasing them at all.
Great fun. 4 out of 5