THIS IS THE VERY WITCHING TIME OF NIGHT WHEN CHURCHYARDS YAWN AND HELL ITSELF GIVES OUT CONTAGION TO THIS WORLD. – SHAKESPEARE
I finally hit my weekend and just landed some new films in the mail. While I sat watching this film last night and got all nostalgic regressing in my PBR soaked mind. Not many people would call The Naked Witch good, much how I will generally be uninterested in what’s playing at the mega-plex. Don’t get me wrong, I love those places too. But, the films I’d rather see on the big screen have long since been shown on the silver screens that permeated 42nd Street.How did I get here?
I rambled through my mind coming to realize that this really has always been my taste in film. I realized my dad was one of the people I had to thank for my obsession in the world of bizarre film. He always joked the less stars the film had the better it was. It turned out that statement was right in many ways. From a very young age I remember my father bringing a 16mm projector home from school with a copy of The Wolfman and a pull down screen to view it on. It may very well be the first film I saw on the “big” screen. It left an indelible impact on me though at that young age. Cable television also, was always connected to our house as soon as that became a thing too. At this time USA network was in its early stages and showed a lot of crazy “one star” films with programs like Commander USA’s Groovie Movies hosted by Jim Hendricks. Fuck, we need to get this guy on a podcast! Someone find us the Commander! Anyways, we watched this show almost every Saturday if we weren’t outside chopping wood in the rain. Add to it, shows like Up All Night, Shadow Theatre and obsessively watching MST3K, I was on my way. As I got a bit older my brother flipped the switch entirely with viewings of Hag in a Black Leather Dress (I had never seen anything like Hag before) and other odd choices we would pick out to watch when we’d visit him in college. He had a video store called Fairhaven Video that had a whole section dedicated to obscure film not readily available in the video stores back in Aberdeen. Throughout those titles were numerous offerings from a Seattle based company called Something Weird Video. If you are an exploitation film lover then you owe a great deal of thanks to SWV’s great efforts of preserving these films. This timeline of film events pretty much solidified my obsession with exploitation to this day.
The films that landed in my mail were all from Something Weird Video and immediately I chose The Naked Witch to watch first. The familiar SWV intro begins to play and I cannot help but get excited as it ushers us into the feature film. As The Naked Witch begins it goes into a full and lengthy narrative on witchcraft in the area of Luckenbach Texas. Actually this whole movie is pretty much narrative interjected with really wooden dialogue. A college man simply introduced as “the student” from the city visits the town of Luckenbach trying to make it to its traditional German music festival so he can do research for his thesis on the town’s history of superstition and witchcraft. Before entering the town his car naturally runs out of gas and he is forced to hoof the last three feet into town where he comes across an old codger sharpening a farm tool. Asking for a place to stay for the evening the old man points the direction to the inn and boasts in a terrible German accent that the place has “Vienerschnitzel un good beer!” Kirska, a young woman in full German costume is introduced by recycling the same scene they used in the opening credits, is tasked with leading him to the inn. As the student begins to ask the old man about the history of the area he is met with resistance. Committed to his research he presses the young lady who agrees to help him and offers a book to him that will explain it all. In it he learns the history of the Luckenbach widow witch. A woman who was scorned by her lover when she got a bit too mouthy and his lordship condemned her under witchcraft. Burnt, staked, draped and displayed, she is buried for a hundred years before brainiac decides to dig her up and take the stake out of her mummified corpse. The effects in bringing her back to life are stop motion a la Christopher Lee being reborn as Dracula, only with less shots of the transformation. Where Hammer used say twenty frames. The Naked Witch uses about three. Running away from the scene he has unleashed, the widow witch donning badly bleached hair and cat eye makeup rises up and quickly wanders off to seek revenge on the family that condemned her. After the first kill the young man is overcome with guilt for what he has done but is unable to confess what he has done because… witchcraft. So he sets off to try and find the widow witch on his own and stop the killings. When he does find the witch she is enjoying a late night swim under the full moon. This is where you’d think the naked part comes in. But for a film titled The Naked Witch there is very little naked. It’s crazy to think that back in the day this would have a XXX rating.
The back of the DVD states this film as unrated which apparently goes two ways. Either you going to have a very titillating experience or whoever rates films like this just couldn’t be bothered on this one. As the student peeps at the witch skinny dipping from the tall grass he decides to get a closer look but is quickly detected by the witch. Captured and seduced he is led back to her lair up in the caves behind town. In a black slightly see through gown she proceeds to further enchant him with a dance that is really quite less than bewitching. Now, having him under her spell, she makes her move for sexy time and the scene suddenly skips to him asleep on the ground. It was like a wrinkle in time. For all that lead up there was absolutely no, um, climax. Apparently satisfied, the witch runs off to claim her last victim in Kirska. The young man awakens and realizes what is going to take place and runs off to defend Kirska. Arriving just in time, he simply pushes the witch away from Kirska who stumbles and falls into her original grave impaling herself on her own stake. Who knew killing witches could be so simple? Sometimes you just get lucky I guess.
The Naked Witch was written and directed Claude Alexander and Larry Buchanan. Claude pretty much disappeared after this film, but this is an early entry for Larry who went on to have a long career directing and writing up until his death in 2004. In fact this was pretty much it for the entire cast involved in this film except for Libby Hall who plays the Naked Witch. She went on to star in another one of Buchanan’s films, Common Law Wife, and to my surprise she has a roll in Tony Brownrigg’s sequel, Don’t Look in the Basement 2, filmed in 2015. The Naked Witch, running at only 59 minutes, is a pretty quick and entertaining entry. There is a lot of riffing to be had at the expense of the films terrible dialogue and film shots. This is one of those films that studios pumped out on the cheap to make a quick buck as a second runner on the billing. Thanks to SWV we are able to experience this bad little gem of a film, and many others like it that would have otherwise been lost to the ravages of time.