This is one of those films that brings a substantially large group of shady relatives together in a family mansion for the reading of a will, with the inheritance being split equally among the relatives, with an added stipulation that if any beneficiary should die before a certain time, their share must be split among the surviving heirs. Of course this will inevitably create a murderer or two, amongst the family. I’ve seen a similar plot device in a couple other movies, One Body Too Many and Legacy of Blood, but something different with Sex of the Witch is the inclusion of a perverse, evil witch relative with a good measure of hate and malice for the family, which gives what could’ve been a routine plot device a rather demented and supernatural spin.
The problem here is that there are too many unfamiliar characters to keep track of, and some of them kind of look the same. And it does take a while to sort everyone out. The first time around, not really knowing who everyone was, the conversations were a little challenging to follow, but it still wasn't too difficult to get the gist of the plot. I’ve watched it three times now, and I’m pretty confident I’ve got it sorted out. This probably says something about the quality of the film, but despite the confusion, there’s this haunting and dissonant feel to the film that’s still very intriguing.
The methodology of the title witch, Evelyn (Jessica Dublin), is quite novel and twisted. The name Evelyn causes me to recall Emilio Miraglia’s Red Queen gialli, and I can’t help wondering if the common use of the name Evelyn for the villainess in these films is more than coincidental.
Camille Keaton’s presence in this film has probably drawn in a lot of viewers, and though her screen time is rather limited, the times she does appear manage to have an impact. She is in a catatonic state most of the time, which is something she does really well, especially during a climactic scene where she’s shown singing alone in a room, in a trance, but the dialogue is cut out, and all we can hear is organ-laden music. It’s hard to tell if this was an editing mistake, but her lip moving, and the time she blinks her eyes, does seem strangely synchronized with the background music, and it is an eerie and striking moment.
The music is by Daniele Patucchi and it was taken from the C.A.M. film music library (which I think means it was not composed entirely for this movie but was available to be used in other movies, but can anyone tell me what C.A.M. stands for?), and I really did enjoy it in this one, particularly a pleasant Bruno Nicolai-esque lounge tune with a harpsichord and a spooky sounding piece that sounds the same played forwards as it does played backwards, like Ennio Morricone’s theme to Argento’s The Stendhal Syndrome.
A washed out looking nightclub sequence, shot with an overpowering sepia tone, interrupts the film, but it really pushes the sex, drugs, and rock ‘n’ roll theme, accentuating a moral decline that may be analogous to the ‘shameful’ nature of the Hilton family and its detriment by the will of an evil witch, as some of the dancers do look a little like ceremonial witches. Although it’s hard to see what’s going on during the nightclub scene, it’s still very sexy and a definite highlight.
Some may not buy into the weird and offbeat twists at the end, but I was impressed. I thought a little of Sleepaway Camp, but without that movie’s effective shock, during an amusing closing scene that ends on a freeze frame that left me cackling madly, just like the butler.
Sex of the Witch is a supernatural giallo from the golden era of Eurocult, and it feels like it. It’s one of those movies that you can tell isn’t very well made, but it still has this ability to sink deep into your cerebral cortex and become somewhat of an obsession.
© At the Mansion of Madness