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The Witches [DVD] [1966] [US Import]


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The Witches [DVD] [1966] [US Import] + The Devil Rides Out [DVD] [1968]
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Product details

  • Actors: Joan Fontaine, Kay Walsh, Alec McCowen, Ann Bell, Ingrid Boulting
  • Directors: Cyril Frankel
  • Writers: Nigel Kneale, Norah Lofts
  • Producers: Anthony Nelson Keys
  • Format: Anamorphic, Colour, DVD-Video, Widescreen, PAL
  • Language: English
  • Region: All Regions
  • Aspect Ratio: 16:9 - 1.66:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Classification: Unrated (US MPAA rating. See details.)
  • Studio: Starz / Anchor Bay
  • DVD Release Date: 25 July 2000
  • Run Time: 90 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: 6305808171
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 202,023 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)

Customer Reviews

3.5 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

23 of 25 people found the following review helpful By FAMOUS NAME VINE VOICE on 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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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Trevor Willsmer HALL OF FAMETOP 50 REVIEWER on 27 Nov 2006
Format: DVD
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).

The UK DVD has no extras, but Anchor Bay's deleted US release included trailer, TV spots and episode of the World of Hammer compilation series (and was also repackaged as a two-disc set with the demented Prehistoric Women). The UK Region B-locked Blu-ray only has a single extra, the 42-minute documentary Hammer Glamour (which can also be found on the US Region A-locked Blu-ray of Frankenstein Created Woman).
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20 of 24 people found the following review helpful By Nick London SW8 on 30 Jun 2008
Format: DVD
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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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Paulmak2010 on 15 Jan 2014
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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