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THE WITCHES: Blu-ray (2oth Century-Fox/Hammer, 1966) Shout! Factory

Joan Fontaine attempted to enter the popular cycle in ‘hagsploitation’ horror, schlepping it for Hammer, in director, Cyril Frankil’s The Witches (1966), a rather pedestrian retelling of The Devil's Own by Norah Lofts, with far too much of Ms. Fontaine loitering about in a curious haze and not nearly enough shock to satisfy the matinee crowd. I suspect The Witcheswould have greatly benefited from being shot in B&W; something about horror movies from this vintage positively screams for monochromatic, moodily lit interiors and starkly contrasted/overcast exteriors. But the village of Hambleden, Buckinghamshire (subbing in for the fictional enclave of Heddaby) looks like a Brit-born Disneyland: quaint and antiseptically clean, lush and lovely in Pathe color, and sunlit to boot. It is difficult, if not entirely impossible to anticipate the looming dread enveloping Gwen Mayfield (Fontaine), cast as the ‘Our Miss Brooks’ of the piece, when the whole place looks as though to have bee…

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