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4.4 out of 5 stars
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4.4 out of 5 stars
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on 23 February 2009
Watched late at night this is an effective old style psychological horror very much in the vein of Night of the Demon. In fact it seems to take much inspiration from the more famous movie. The story itself is not as good though, and its contrivance shows in the very first scene, with Wyngarde lecturing his students on the paranormal, which, as far as I know, has never been a degree course, even in its heyday in the Elizabethan and Jacobean era.

This obvious piece of film hokum should be overlooked, however, as the movie soon folds out into a pleasingly tense pschological suspenser. You do have to remember you are in a movie world, where successful middle class professionals are also practising witches, as though it's as normal as knitting jumpers for a hobby, but the film does evolve nicely into a neat, sinister tale of jealousy and wicca dabbling.

Lovely clear black and white photography distills that very nostalgic middle England of the early 60s, nice country houses, a lovely Gothic college building, classy tweed jackets and skirts, clipped English accents, a drinks cabinet in every room and clouds of cigarette smoke. This is all as much part of the joy of watching this film as the hokey story itself. But it is very well directed and produced and there isn't much slack here, it is a clean, professional piece of work and it is effectively creepy in parts. The tension builds very nicely, and it has some very good special effects for its time, in the fine climactic ending.
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on 11 June 2011
A psychology professor (Peter Wyngarde) discovers that his wife (Janet Blair) has been practicing witchcraft behind his back. She maintains that it's her spells that have brought him success but he demands she destroy her all her witch paraphernalia. After she does, strange things begin happening and his once secure life begins to unravel. This atmospheric horror tale would do Val Lewton proud. Director Sidney Hayers (CIRCUS OF HORRORS) skillfully blends suspense and the supernatural with a naturalism that helps make the unbelievable believable. Hayers is aided in this by a clever screenplay by Twilight Zone's regular contributors, Richard Matheson and Charles Beaumont as well as George Baxt which is based on Fritz Leiber novel, CONJURE WIFE which had been made previously in 1943 under the title WEIRD WOMAN. Blair, imported from the USA, is excellent as is Margaret Johnston. The effective score is by William Alwyn (CRIMSON PIRATE). Released in the U.S. with the more lurid title, BURN WITCH BURN. With Kathleen Byron (BLACK NARCISSUS), Anthony Nicholls and Colin Gordon.

The British DVD from Optimum Classic is an excellent, crisp anamorphic wide screen (about a 1.77 ratio) transfer.
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on 1 May 2010
A classic of it's type - witchcraft, "unseen forces'' at work, academic rivalry, all in a sleepy English town where playing Bridge is apparently the highlight of social life. But underneath the surface....? All the actors deliver committed performances, Margaret Johnson in particular giving a twisted edge to her portrayal that is very effective. Brilliant black and white photography, inventive direction and a fast paced narrative ensure that the story is always engaging. The DVD has a nicely restored and contrasty image, and the audio, although only mono, is clean and does the job well. All in all, a great viewing experience.
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on 26 September 2001
This is still the most frightening witchcraft movie together with Jacques Tourneurs "Night of the Demon"; that is, if you're willing to accept b/w format and prefer psychological (and emotional) drama to clinical special FX orgies. The acting is terrific, especially by the two antagonizing over-the-top female leads.
Some reviews pointed out that "Night ..." is a study in male rationalism vs. female irrationalism, but there is no doubt that the guys have to accept the powers whose existence they denied up to the last point. So the struggle is less male vs. female but rather the logical mind vs. the irrational drives in ourselves, both "angst" and destructive forces. (On the other hand, a little witchcraft can liven up life on the countryside, can't it?)
The print is good but still in fullframe (1.33) presentation instead of the original 1.66 widescreen ratio. This one SCREAMS to be on DVD! How about a double feature disc with "Night of the Demon"? I'll be the first one to buy!
Henry-X
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VINE VOICEon 18 July 2002
This is a little gem of a picture. WB must be congratulated for re-releasing this film as part of their Horror Classics series on the Studio Canal label.

Peter Wyngarde (pre- Jason King era) plays a college lecturer who finds himself in a witchcraft conspiracy designed to destroy him and his marriage. Janet Blair plays a wonderful part as his wife who is caught up in the conspiracy. Full of atmosphere and suspense (Hitchcock would have been proud of this) it ends with an amazing scene at the college when Wyngarde is chased along the corridors by a giant eagle. Its good to see this film released on DVD since picture quality and sound are much better than the VHS version release a few years ago. Only quibble is that there are no extras available. Still, a pretty good buy though.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 16 January 2008
Night of the Eagle doesn't seem to get shown on television very much, which is really strange as its a cracking supernatural thriller. Peter Wyngarde (remember Department S?) stars with Janet Blair as Norman and Tansy Taylor. Its made clear right from the outset of the film that Norman is a sceptic and doesn't believe in the supernatural. Unfortunately Tansy does and is heavily involved in it.

The film was clearly influenced by Night of the Demon and it very nearly matches that film in most respects: The lighting and sound are excellent, its only 84mins long, so there really isn't a wasted minute, and the two leading performances are memorably good. Perhaps the only area where its a little weaker than Night of the Demon is the absence of any of that films occasional black comedy moments.

In short if you haven't seen this, then you've missed a minor classic that I believe will hold up to repeated viewings.
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on 29 January 2016
Skeptical college professor played by Peter Wyngarde gets the surprise of his life when he finds out this his wife has been studying witchcraft after their recent holiday to Jamaica. She's in much deeper than he thinks and slowly things in his personal life start to fall apart after he burns all of her items that she has collected. Now he faces a race against time to save his wife from certain death.

This is a very well made British horror film and what stands out is the wonderful acting. Peter Wyngarde and his wife played by Janet Blair are very believeable and Margaret Johnston can put the creeps on you just with her smile.

There are some genuinely creepy moments, the eagle chasing Wyngarde is a major highlight and this is a quality horror movie. True there are some loose ends- the college student's faked relationship with her teacher was worth more story progressing if only for the weirdness of the character and there is a lull at the half way point. But all in all Night of the Eagle is a very good horror movie.
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When a horror film begins with a character not only stating "I do not believe" but literally spelling it out on a blackboard, you know he's going to be in for a rude awakening. That's just the fate that befalls Peter Wyngarde in Night of the Eagle, aka Burn, Witch, Burn, a rather splendid and unpretentious little British horror from 1962 where witchcraft rubs shoulders with academic rivalry when the sceptic professor finds out that his wife (Janet Blair) believes his charmed life is down to the protective spells she weaves around him. Ever the rational man he assumes that she's unbalanced and gets her to destroy all her talismans - and from that moment on, naturally, all Hell starts to break loose as his prospects for promotion are hit by scandal and his life put in jeopardy. Could it be that his wife isn't the only person on campus who's been casting spells...?

The answer is pretty obvious, but getting there is a surprisingly satisfying trip from disbelief to paranoia. It's not in the same league as the superficially similar Night of the Demon, which saw even more sceptical academic Dana Andrews in a duel of faith with Niall MacGinnis' warlock: director Sidney Hayers lacks Jacques Tourneur's mastery of mood and atmosphere, but he does do a surprisingly effective job as he drives the film and his characters increasingly over the edge while the rest of the world goes about its business oblivious to it all. One performance does become a bit too rich once the character's true nature is revealed, but by then the pitch has become fevered enough for that not to sink the film. Previously filmed as Weird Woman, part of the Inner Sanctum series, this is definitely a cut above the usual 60s chiller and stands very well on its own while pulling the ground from under its' arrogant hero's feet. And keep an eye out for what happens to that blackboard in the film's finale...

Optimum's UK DVD has no extras but does offer a fine widescreen transfer of the film in its original widescreen ratio.
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on 11 July 2011
What a find, based on Fritz Leiber's conjure wife this starts Peter Wyngarde (he of the heroic sideburns) as an up and coming professor who finds that his wife is a practising witch....i wont spoil the rest of the film but it's a cracker.
Moodily shot in black and white it shows that you really don't need CGI to summon up a creepy atmospheric thriller, a really nice transfer to DVD a great storyline and decent actors playing it straight give it a try.
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Night of the Eagle (AKA: Burn, Witch, Burn!) is directed by Sidney Hayers and adapted to screenplay by Charles Beaumont, Richard Matheson and George Baxt from the novel "Conjure Wife" written by Fritz Leiber. It stars Peter Wyngarde, Janet Blair, Margaret Johnston, Anthony Nicholls and Colin Gordon. Music is by William Alwyn and cinematography by Reginald Wyer.

Psychologist Norman Taylor (Wyngarde) is rocked when he discovers that his wife Tansy has been dabbling in witchcraft. She is adamant that it keeps them from harm and is the reason why his career is flourishing. Not convinced at all, Norman sets about destroying all of Tansy's paraphernalia and soon finds his life taking a drastic downturn…

What is neurosis? A nerve-change, the physical basis of consciousness as distinguished from psychosis.

This, the second of three adaptations of the Leiber novel to get the big screen treatment, is easily the best, a smouldering suspenser ripe with paranoia and atmospheric unease. Subtle in pacing, it's a marked lesson in gaining the most out of suggestion and understated story telling. Clearly not armed with a gargantuan budget, Hayers and his team rely on the strength of writing and acting to let this Eagle soar, and soar it does.

Rites and Practice in Black Magic.

The back drop is a place of academic studies, where the faculty indulge in get togethers, of drinks, snacks and card games, but this is all a false veneer. Lurking underneath is a veritable hot-bed of spitefulness, jealousies and bitter rivalries that come to the fore once the black magic forces of evil gather to destroy the Taylors.

I do (not) believe.

It builds with ambiguity lurking overhead, ensuring the belief system of Norman Taylor and the audience is constantly tested, and then the coiled spring is unleashed. The effects work may not be up to much, but it matters not, the impact is considerably suspenseful, even frightening. No gore or histrionics here, just damn great supernatural film making. 8.5/10
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