“What do the Devil’s Own do after Dark?” that is the tagline for the Joan Fontaine, who makes her final film appearance in Hammer Films The Witches aka The Devils Own. A creepy thriller combining the elements of black magic and a little good old fashioned witchcraft. Released in 1966 the film was another hit for Hammer and over time developed a nice cult following in the United States. It is finally getting the Blu-ray treatment from Scream Factory.
Fontaine stars as a schoolteacher by the name of Gwen. When the film begins she is a teacher at a missionary school in Africa that is under siege by the local Witchdoctors. Gwen is all packed p and ready to get out just as one of the Witchdoctor’s arrives and grabs here. She screams and we fast forward to a new setting in England where Gwen, who has suffered a nervous breakdown because of the attack in Africa has just accepted a job as a teacher in a little private school in a small village. She was hired by a priest named Alan Bax. The only problem, or should I say the first is when she arrives at the school and finds that not only is the church is now an old ruin, and Alan isn’t really a priest. He wanted to be one so now he just dresses like one to give him some security, as he explains it.
If all of that was not weir enough two of Gwen’s students, Ronnie, and Linda are fast becoming an item of sorts. Problem is most everyone is against this. No real explanation is given with the exception that Linda’s Grandmother is an evil controlling woman who abuses Linda. One day poor Ronnie without warning falls into a deep coma. If that was weird enough Gwen finds a voodoo doll with pins stuck in the head. It would appear that she is being followed by the witchdoctors she encountered in Africa. Have they found her now, or is there something sinister going on in the town?
The Witches is a simple film that blends Suspense in favor of jump scares and the gore that is found in most hammer films. Like all there films however the atmosphere is incredible and matched with a pulse pounding score that enhances the creepy overtones of the film. Hammer was always ahead of their time when it came to scoring a film and this one is no exception. It rivals the scores of today horror films, and with that Scream Factory transfer it only sounds better. It also has a nice amount of special features that only Scream Factory can deliver.
Overall 2.5 out of 3 Stars!