The early ‘70s brought us a very special sort of cinematic sleaze, with all manner of softcore porn masquerading as horror films. U.K. filmmakers were especially adept at packing in the female flesh, thanks, in part, to an uncharacteristically lax BBFC who seemed to stamp their approval on just about anything that passed across their desks during the period (which makes one think that the whole “Nasties” era was somehow an attempt to overcompensate for earlier oversights)! Virgin Witch (the latest Redemption Blu-ray release brought stateside courtesy of Kino) is an excellent example of just how much British filmmakers were able to get away with in the waning days of free love.
Virgin Witch wastes no time getting to the good stuff. Within seconds of the Redemption logo’s fading, we are treated to a series of stills showcasing the bountiful bosoms of the film’s three lead females – the lovely triumvirate of Ann Michelle, Vicki Michelle, and the late Patricia Haines – interspersed with an assortment of other young lovelies in various states of undress. When these salacious credits come to a close, we’re then properly introduced to sisters, Christine (Ann Michelle) and Betty (Vicki Michelle), who are hitchhiking their way to London in hopes of landing a modeling gig for the lovely Christina. The pair is picked up by a swingin’ businessman driving a sweet red Mustang who, thanks to the prescient Christine, narrowly avoids running over the occupants of a broken down caravan. This scene is meant to establish the fact that Christine is not only hot, but psychic! Sadly, it’s so shoddily edited that it most will be laughing too hard to realize it.
Once in London, Christine answers an ad from a modeling agency, and soon finds herself in the office of Sybil Waite (Haines). Sybil senses something different about the girl, and orders her to strip down so she can get a better look. After a lengthy inspection, Sybil tells Christine to get dressed, and heads back to her desk to answer a staged phone call in which she feigns distress over a potential modeling gig that very weekend. Problem is, all of Sybil’s models are “booked’, so Christine offers her services. Sybil puts on a good show of acting reluctant, but finally agrees, and, soon, Christine, Betty, and Sybil are off to an isolated manse in the Surrey countryside. Betty eventually stumbles upon something of a “church” dedicated to witchcraft, and they learn that their kindly host, Gerald Amberly (Neil Hallet), is actually the leader of a coven of White Witches. Quite to Gerald and Sybil’s surprise, neither Christine nor Betty is put off by the fact that they’ve stumbled into a witch’s coven. Quite the opposite, in fact, as Christine is more than happy to join their ranks, feeling that her nascent abilities would make her a great witch. At first, Sybil and Gerald Amberly are elated by their good fortune, but, when the virgin (yeah right) Christine’s true intentions are revealed, they soon find themselves in a struggle for control over the coven.
Of course, Virgin Witch isn’t about plot; it’s about how many naked breasts one can cram into a movie. Ann Michelle is either topless or entirely nude for a good third of the film, with Vicki Michelle, Haines, and an assortment of witchy extras show off enough skin to fill up a good chunk of the remainder. This is all well and good, as I’m certainly no prude, and these ladies are very easy on the eyes. The problems, however, lay with the bits in which everyone keeps their clothes on, as the wooden acting, inane dialogue, and the oh-so-uninteresting plot make these scenes move along at a near-glacial pace, making the film’s meager 88 minute running time seem twice as long. Sure, it’s all very stylishly shot, and there are a few moments that really capture the gothic vibe that British horror does so well, but even the most ardent fans of T&A laden films will find themselves looking at their watches by the time the final act rolls around.
Redemption’s Blu-ray presentation is surprisingly good for a film of this vintage, especially when one compares it to their recent release of Killer’s Moon which, while still quite acceptable for an older low-budget flick, featured more than its share of print damage. Virgin Witch offers a much cleaner and more vibrant transfer than that film, and, while scratches and the occasional bit of flicker still rear their ugly heads on occasion, overall, the transfer’s quite pleasing. Yes, there’s very little fine detail to speak of, here, but, once again, this is an old cheapie that we’re lucky to have gotten on DVD, let alone Blu-ray.
I do have a gripe with this disc, however, and it concerns the inconsistent sound quality. I found the PCM 2.0 soundtrack quite muddy sounding, with the dialogue sounding as though it were recited underwater at times! I’ve never seen the film prior to this release, so I can’t say whether or not this is a result of the mastering process or an inherent fault with the source, itself, but it is a bit distracting even if no one actually says anything of any real interest.
As far as extras are concerned, Virgin Witch fans must make do with only a trailer (HD) and stills gallery (HD). This meager collection of supplements is made slightly less disappointing by the inclusion of trailers for Redemption’s Jean Rollin Blu-ray Collection (HD).
Virgin Witch is unbridled softcore erotica masquerading as gothic horror, and, for the most part, it does a decent job of it. That is, when it’s not trying to make sense. Sadly, once folks get talking, film's shortcomings in terms of plot, pacing, and characterization become glaringly apparent, but the audiences this one is aimed at will be willing to overlook these shortcomings seeing as how there's always a lengthy nude scene just around the bend. While those looking for Hammer-style gothic horror chills and thrills should definitely look elsewhere, I heartily recommend fans of Eurosleaze and erotic horror consider adding this female-flesh-filled frivolity to their collection.