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The Witches [DVD] [1966]

 Suitable for 12 years and over   DVD
3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
Price: 9.13 & FREE Delivery in the UK on orders over 10. Details
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The Witches [DVD] [1966] + The Devil Rides Out [DVD] [1968]
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Product details

  • Format: PAL, Colour, Widescreen, Anamorphic
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 2 (This DVD may not be viewable outside Europe. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 16:9 - 1.66:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Classification: 12
  • Studio: Studiocanal
  • DVD Release Date: 15 Jan 2007
  • Run Time: 87 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000KRMZT2
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 54,802 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)


Product Description

'60's British B-movie chiller featuring voodoo, the supernatural and general dark arts. A comely young British teacher takes up a remote posting in darkest Africa where the local juju man lays a hex on her. She has a breakdown and is forced to return to the UK. There, she takes up a post at a rural school where all appears well on the surface. It turns out, however, that the place is a hotbed of witchery and darkness and that a virgin sacrifice is planned for the near future. The film was directed by Cyril Frankel, who'd made Hammer's 1960 child abuse drama 'Never Take Sweets From a Stranger', and the script was by Quatermass author Nigel Kneale. Their depiction of sinister undercurrents in a pastoral setting wasn't sinister enough for the BBFC, however, who only granted the film an 'A' certificate. Hammer persuaded them to reconsider, but this accomplished film still failed to find an audience.

Product Description

United Kingdom released, PAL/Region 2 DVD: LANGUAGES: English ( Mono ), ANAMORPHIC WIDESCREEN (1.78:1), SPECIAL FEATURES: Anamorphic Widescreen, Black & White, Interactive Menu, Scene Access, Trailer(s), SYNOPSIS: This film was a pet project of Joan Fontaine, based on a novel by Peter Curtis. It was her last feature film. Fontaine stars as teacher Gwen Mayfield, who is in charge of a missionary school in Africa. A witch doctor puts a curse on her, and she has a nervous breakdown. Returning to England, she takes a job running a small rural school. In the village, there is an active voodoo cult. They have targeted a young woman named Linda (Ingrid Brett), whom they plan to offer as a virgin sacrifice. The cult members are led by journalist Stephanie Bax (Kay Walsh), whom Mayfield discovers is the head witch. Mayfield's student Ronnie Dowsett (Martin Stephens) is being harassed by the cult to keep him from protecting Linda, his girlfriend. This British production was titled The Devil's Own in the U.S. ...The Witches ( The Devil's Own )

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
23 of 25 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Hammer Horror Classic! 25 Mar 2007
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
Despite being made more than forty years ago, this is quite a recent outing for actress Joan Fontaine in terms of her long and outstanding career - and in terms of how little she's done since. This film is an oddity for many of its cast - not least for Alec McCowen and Kay Walsh - to mention just two.

The film gets off to the classic start of strange and puzzling incidents, but somehow, despite the big build up, the viewer is left feeling rather 'let down' when reaching the climax. It is unsure what is to be expected, but one is somehow surprised/disappointed at the end. There's a surprise appearance of a young and good-looking Leonard Rossiter (Rising Damp) in one of his rare straight roles, and there are many other familiar faces, including Michelle Dotrice and Carmel McSharry.

Very much typical of the 1960s Hammer material that was turned out - but enhanced by a great performance from Fontaine. (some might find her acting style a little dated in this)

Was a long time coming out on DVD in the UK.
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20 of 23 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars An intriguing near miss 27 Nov 2006
The Witches aka The Devil's Own is an interesting but ultimately unsuccessful attempt by Hammer to make a serious(ish) movie about witchcraft. Nigel Kneale's screenplay displays some of his customary intelligence, but here he seems hindered by working not from an original story but by adapting Norah Loft's novel. A deathly pale Joan Fontaine is the schoolteacher recovering from a nervous breakdown who takes a job in an outwardly idyllic English village only to gradually suspect that there are darker forces at work - although this could just be in her own imagination. Of course, we know that she's clearly bonkers after her horrible offscreen experience at the hands of witchdoctors in Africa (well, a soundstage in Bray) while the credits were running, but we also know that just because she's had one turn of the screw too many doesn't mean there aren't real witches at work...

It's good at the unpleasant undercurrents in ostensibly beautiful small country towns and also looks at the attraction witchcraft has for women of a certain age (it's a power thing, apparently, with magic as a substitute for waning sexual power). Unfortunately, it goes downhill pretty fast once the cat is, quite literally, out of the bag and the last reel orgy plays more like a bad amateur modern dance performance that goes on forever than a terrifying pagan ritual (the silly costume doesn't help, although it's probably the only 60s film to feature faecophiliacs at play if that's your thing).
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18 of 21 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A gem from the Hammer archives 30 Jun 2008
I bought this on the strength of Hammer, witchcraft & mid 60s, then I read reviews & felt foolish as they all seemed to say it was dull, duff stuff. But not so. I saw it last night. The African set at the start is clearly a model but then it gets going and the colour photography is amazing: Wonderful, rich, sharp colours - the Berkshire countryside and villages are beautiful - it's great to see the world of my childhood alive again. In mid section it's rather like an episode of the Avengers from '66/67 set in High Summer England with Joan Fontaine doing a tolerably good, rather decorous, imitation of Diana Rigg. The sets are as good as ever Hammer did in this period - which is v good & v English. Good acting (lots of weird & lots of gin neat which always helps, not to mention lots of pills). Nice pace and the ending was, frankly, a total surprise (probably because I'd been expecting something more along the lines of The Wicker Man... there are lots of similarities). Also a nice touch mid way with an attack by savage, frenzied sheep (I saw 'Black Sheep' last month so that really worked for me). Overall this is really rather a good film - see it if you have the chance.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Minor classic 6 Aug 2009
Apparently this was not a success at the time of its release. I don't understand this at all because what Hammer have done here is produce a minor masterpiece in their substantial range of films. The plot needs little explanation as the title tells you everything.

What I will say though is that this is well acted, by a fine cast, equally well directed and most important of all its very well controlled. There is a subtle underlying sense of menace going on in this film, which it would be rare to see in a modern film. In fact but for the last 10 minutes, where the inevitable rituals and costumes see the light of day this would have got 5 stars from me. Only the ending lets it down.

Aside from that its highly recommended. Note this is also in the 21 disc Hammer boxed set as well.
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Format:Blu-ray|Verified Purchase
A great little underrated chiller, actually quite unsettling in a "Wicker Man" sort of way.
I've read that back in the 1966 this was originally awarded an 'A' cert by the BBFC, until Hammer persuaded them to give it the more commercial 'X'.
I doubt very much if the movie,as it stands now,would have been given an 'A' at the time. Apart from the subject matter itself (witchcraft involving the abuse of children) there are some specific sequences which in my view would definitely have been 'X'-rated material back in the 60s.In fact,I'm quite surprised that the BBFC back then allowed one particular shot at all,even with an 'X': that is,14 year old Linda,in a hypnotic frenzy induced by the witches,and immediately prior to her proposed killing and flaying,massaging her own breasts!! (There is a still of this in "The Hammer Story" .. but only the first edition).
My guess is that an 'A' may have been offered but only with extensive cuts; and that Hammer preferred to have the 'X',without the cuts.It's notable that even today the BBFC have given this release a '12' rather than a 'PG' (the 'PG' of course being equivalent to the old 'A').
As for the BR / DVD Combo - well,visual quality is very good,if not spectacular.Sound and aspect ratio seem OK.
My main gripe is the paucity of extras. No commentary, no gallery, not even a trailer. Just one documentary .. "Hammer Glamour", in which Hammer's principal scream queen (Barbara Shelley) gets only a fraction of the time she deserves.But other, lesser names go on for ages. I appreciate this may be down to availability for participation but you do get the impression that Studio Canal is running out of ideas for their extras. Fair enough, but in that case drop the price of the disc! It's for this reason that I give only 3 stars to this release, sorry Studio Canal.
But the movie itself I think deserves a 4.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Nigel Kneale script
Yet another excellent film from Nigel Kneale. I've owned the dvd for some time, however I thought I'd purchase the Blu-ray version having experienced the phenomenal, recently... Read more
Published 3 months ago by sebquest
3.0 out of 5 stars Heddaby Dabby Doo.
The Witches is directed by Cyril Frankel and adapted to screenplay by Nigel Kneale from the novel The Devil's Own written by Nora Lofts. Read more
Published 4 months ago by Spike Owen
3.0 out of 5 stars Hammer Classics
What happened to Frankenstein created woman on bluray ?? I preordered it and it was cancelled ! Now they decide to release this film instead ?? WHY ???? Read more
Published 7 months ago by Rick Branda
5.0 out of 5 stars The Witches
Yes I know this is not even out yet, But I am so glad Studio Canal are back releasing Hammer once again on Blu ray (and DVD) I feel credit is due. Read more
Published 7 months ago by Andrew Venables
3.0 out of 5 stars Oh want a tangled web we weave
Gwen Mayfield (Joan Fontaine) fresh from an encounter with a witch doctor is given an opportunity to recover and a position in a private school in England. Read more
Published 8 months ago by bernie
5.0 out of 5 stars An atmospheric little gem!
Based on the novel "The Devil's Own" this portrayal of black magic, still existent in a tiny English village, is well acted, beautifully photographed and highly enjoyable. Read more
Published 12 months ago by Adrian Drew
5.0 out of 5 stars Another Hammer great...
Somethings wrong in the little village in 1960's England... no surprise there. More a chiller than Horror but a really good film from the Hammer stable. Read more
Published 18 months ago by Der Spiess
3.0 out of 5 stars Behind the quaint rural English village....
After seeing so many gore-ridden flicks on The Horror Channel, that were so dark and of poor quality, the comparative clarity and light that abounds in this Hammer production, 'The... Read more
Published on 7 April 2012 by Tim Kidner
4.0 out of 5 stars Not brilliant but very good
A very good hammer film, no brilliant points but no dull points either with a decent story, good directing and the cast all perform well. Read more
Published on 8 Mar 2012 by PD
4.0 out of 5 stars quick delivery
was as described and delivered quick is happy with the product and speed of delivery as this was a present for a friend
Published on 24 Oct 2011 by Mrs. K. Kyme
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