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23 of 25 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Hammer Horror Classic!
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...
Published on 25 Mar. 2007 by FAMOUS NAME

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars An intriguing near miss
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...
Published on 27 Nov. 2006 by Trevor Willsmer


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3.0 out of 5 stars and after watching it's a good movie but not as good as I had wished ..., 30 Sept. 2014
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Had high hopes after reading reviews, and after watching it's a good movie but not as good as I had wished for. Don't miss it, but don't get your hopes up either.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Hammer what more could you ask for, 21 Nov. 2014
This review is from: The Witches (Amazon Instant Video)
classic british horror
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3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A DISTURBING LITTLE PIECE WHICH GETS UNDER YOUR SKIN, 15 Jan. 2014
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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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3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Approach with caution, 10 Oct. 2009
By 
P. Hanson (Northumberland, England) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Witches [DVD] [1966] (DVD)
Each of Hammer's horror films falls into one of three categories: good, bad or ugly. Thankfully, the vast majority were good. But The Witches (1966) is one of their few bad ones.

Basically, stories of strange goings-on in a picturesque village have been done so much better elsewhere, such as The Prisoner, The Wicker Man, and countless episodes of The Avengers.

The Witches is not very much typical of what Hammer were producing at the time for several reasons:

- Firstly, despite being about witchcraft, it is simply not scary. And there is none of Hammer's trademark bright red blood. I am baffled as to why this film was giving an X certificate when it was originally released? A small child could sit through this and then sleep quite untroubled.

- Secondly, it doesn't star any Hammer legends such as Peter Cushing, Christopher Lee or Barbara Shelley, not even an appearance from Michael Ripper! Many of the Hammer regulars behind the camera are missing too, such as composer James Bernard, directors Terrence Fisher, Freddie Francis or Roy Ward Baker and scriptwriter Jimmy Sangster. Though Bernard Robinson does handle the production design.

- And also, the film features no Hammer glamour. Not a busty young beauty to be seen anywhere.

On the plus side, Joan Fontaine carries the film well (despite looking like she's been at the sherry). She really throws herself into her part (it was her idea to make this film). Also, fans of 1970's British sit-coms will be pleased to see Leonard Rossiter and Michele Dotrice. And the pre-credits sequence set in Africa is particularly well handled, as is the scene involving the stampeding sheep.

As for the DVD itself, there are no faults with the picture or sound. Hats off must go to Optimum for releasing many of these Hammer films. Hopefully, one day fans will have access to all the old horror films from Hammer and Amicus on DVD.

I think if you approach this film with the right frame of mind you may get some enjoyment from it. Just don't expect another classic Hammer horror on par with Curse Of Frankenstein, Dracula, The Vampire Lovers or Twins Of Evil.
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4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A classic!, 3 Mar. 2010
This review is from: The Witches [DVD] [1966] (DVD)
This one of my favourite Hammer films. Eerie feel to it and similar in concept to the Wicker Man. No monsters this around, but real Witches!!
Well performed and atmospheric, for the price it's being sold here for, you can't go wrong.
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3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fine Film Excellently Acted, 24 Nov. 2010
This review is from: The Witches [DVD] [1966] (DVD)
I first saw this film on 'Pay TV' (British Relay) in London back in the 1960s (shortly after the film came out) and have remembered it all my life. It is good. Joan Fonataine's performance is excellent - so full of sensitivity and compassion, she comes across as a truly good and caring woman - the very best side of the English, one feels. The other leading players are also first-rate. The film has a lot of atmosphere, and I think this is one of the best features of Hammer films - a blend of homeliness and growing unease. It is true that this film is not in the least 'scary', but it is carried mainly by Joan Fontaine's utterly committed performance. Why she was disappointed with the finished product, I really cannot imagine. I am not. I recommend it to anyone who feels willing to identify with a well-intentioned but highly-strung headmistress doing her best in a village beset by witchcraft. The humanity of Joan Fontaine shines through in almost every scene. Yes, I recommend it as a gentle and interesting, sensitive 'horror' film (without much horror!).
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great folk 'horror' from Hammer!!!, 3 May 2011
By 
K. J. Greenland "kevinthegerbil" (Cardiff, Wales) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Witches [DVD] [1966] (DVD)
After recovering from a nervous breakdown after crossing witch doctors in Africa, Joan Fontaine takes a teaching job in a private school in a picturesque village. However things are not quite right. Two of her 'courting' students are kept apart and Joan wonders why leading her to the conclusion of witchcraft. Who can she trust? Is she imagining it all because of her recent breakdown?

If you've seen The Wicker Man (of course the best example of this genre in film history) then this has a similar premise. Despite it being not very scary and the final ritual scene being quite frankly laughable, it is a very nicely made film with great touches; a film that Hammer and Joan Fontaine should have been very proud of.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars, 27 Jan. 2015
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This review is from: The Witches [DVD] [1966] (DVD)
Delighted - this was to replace my VHS copy now and was at a great price.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Witches, 30 April 2011
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This review is from: The Witches [DVD] [1966] (DVD)
Very good story, although the climatic witch-coven scene draws more a bit of laughs, with the Witch Queen looking like a cross . The widescreen print used for the DVD was in much better shape and interesting story of African witchcraft in Britain. Some surprising moments make the movie interesting.Again if you are a hammer fan than please own it.
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4 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Conjuring in the countryside, 27 Aug. 2008
By 
Mr. Jonathon T. Beckett "vampire lover" (Dracula's Crypt) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Witches [DVD] [1966] (DVD)
A teacher Gwen Mayfield(Joan Fontaine) suffers a nervous breakdown, after falling foul of a witch doctor whilst working in Africa. Seemingly recovered when she returns to England, she is offered a job teaching at a small private school in the country. Then Gwen starts to notice strange little customs and rituals amongst the villagers, and starts to fear for the safety of two of her pupils. Could history be repeating itself, and a witches coven has found its way into rural England, or is Gwen heading for another breakdown?
The problem with this film is that it builds up so much tension, and audience expectation, that the climax is a serious let down.Up to now the film has been full of creepy little scenes, and has raised as many questions as answers,but the closing scenes are unfortunately reminiscant of Hot Gossip vs. Play School. It is very funny to watch at the time, but you're left feeling a bit empty when the credits roll. There are some very decent performances to be found, from Fontaine's schoolteacher on the edge of a nervous breakdown, to Alec McCowen's shifty benefactor and theres a nice cameo by Leonard Rossiter as a Doctor. However taking the film as a whole, treat with caution
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The Witches [DVD] [1966] [US Import]
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