BADass SINema Unearthed - Blu-ray Review

The Witchmaker (1969) - Blu-ray Review

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The Witchmaker (1969) - Blu-ray Review

3 beersDeep in the Louisiana swamps, a strange man tackles a woman – who just stepped out of said swamp – to the ground.  She is killed, marked with a hex symbol, and hung upside down from a cypress tree by her feet.  She is then drained of her blood with a slash to her neck.  If the sound of her blood filling the bucket right below her head doesn’t get your stomach turning, then neither will anything else in this cheap (but bloody) horror flick about an investigation into the psychic phenomenon occurring around the strange land surrounding a swamp that is filled with gators, moccasins, quicksand, and a warlock.

The Witchmaker is all about “one hell of a calculated risk” for six highly intelligent victims…I mean people.  It is also a solid example of just how effective b-movies can be at creating and sustaining moods that deliver sheer insanity thanks to a plausible and commendably detailed framework.  Everything about its backstory makes sense.  Even if the film’s clunky delivery fails to live up to the highs of its atmosphere and its strong use of the bayou, The Witchmaker is a solid genre offering. 

Written, produced and directed by William O. Brown, The Witchmaker is what happens when a paranormal researcher, Dr. Ralph Hayes (Alvy Moore, The Brotherhood of Satan), brings an unsuspecting group of psychically keyed-in people – Maggie (Shelby Grant, Fantastic Voyage), two eager graduate students named Owen (Tony Brown) and Sharon (Robyn Millan), Tasha (Thordis Brandt), and journalist Victor Gordon (Anthony Eisley, The Wasp Woman) – to the Louisiana bayou, where eight woman have disappeared, in order to study the supernatural surrounding the practice of witchcraft. 

Perhaps, as the good doctor positions, these “special” people are just misunderstood psychics with special abilities that broach the unknown.  And maybe their abilities have little to do with the occult.  Perhaps.  But, then again, with a massive warlock named Luther the Berserk (John Lodge, Riot on Sunset Strip) running around making deals with the devil to keep his coven strong with bodacious babes, it becomes obvious that Hayes is completely wrong.

And then his “researchers” start going missing.  Ruh-roh! 

Filled with scenes of women in naughty nighties traversing the swamps late at night, The Witchmaker teases a whole lot of tasty female flesh while an old hag (Helene Winston, A Boy and His Dog) works in cahoots with Luther to bring Tasha into his coven AND restore her back to her sexiest form (the gorgeous Warrene Ott, Phantom Planet).  It’s a win-win for her and for us! 

The producers, however, were originally aiming for something a bit more … PG-minded at the time and thanks to some cleverly-placed tree branches, well-covering quicksand, and hands cupped over some boobs (in slow motion), the film retains its Mature rating by merely suggesting sexual situations.  While gruesome and groovy, the film could have benefited by being a bit more risqué in some areas.  Lodge as the main villain is vile enough to score some major staged-earned points from his hammy presence, but that doesn’t keep us from wanting a wee bit more from its devilish leanings.  Bummer.

Hail, Satan!  Code Red delivers yet another ocCULT classic with their release of this American supernatural horror film.

The Witchmaker (1969) - Blu-ray Review

MPAA Rating: R.
Runtime:
99 mins
Director
: William O. Brown
Writer:
William O. Brown
Cast:
Anthony Eisley, Thordis Brandt, Alvy Moore
Genre
: Horror
Tagline:
They Came To Investigate Witchcraft ... and found TERROR!
Memorable Movie Quote: "It's been fifty years since a man looked at me like that."
Theatrical Distributor:
Excelsior Distributing Company
Official Site:
Release Date:
May, 1969
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date:
November 9, 2017
Synopsis: Dr. Ralph Hayes (Alvy Moore) is a professor of paranormal studies who leads a group into the Louisiana swamp to investigate a string of murders. His student Tasha (Thordis Brandt) is the psychic whose powers have been inherited from her witch ancestors. Hayes believes that witchcraft is the reason behind the murders of the young women, and reporter Victor Gordon (Anthony Eisley) is out to cover the story. The trail eventually leads to Luther the Berserk (John Lodge) a sorcerer of incredible powers who, after drinking the blood of his victims, has the ability to raise the dead as his unholy army of the night. The efforts of the human researchers collide with the supernatural forces of evil in this terrifying feature.

The Witchmaker (1969) - Blu-ray Review

Blu-ray

Blu-ray Details:

Home Video Distributor: Code Red DVD
Available on Blu-ray
- November 9, 2017
Screen Formats: 2.35:1
Subtitles
: None
Audio:
English: DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0
Discs: Blu-ray Disc; single disc
Region Encoding: Locked to Region A

Code Red presents The Witchmaker on 1080p with solid results, even if there is a fair amount of debris and print damage.  The saturation levels are strong and some of the daylight scenes are a bit problematic.  The banged around 35mm print is scratched and challenging but the digital transfer is much appreciated, even if it can’t save the flick from all the scratches.  We can finally see what is going on in the dark!  It is presented in the film’s original aspect ratio of 2.35:1 and features a DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 soundtrack for all of your dialogue listening needs.

Supplements:

Commentary:

  •  Code Red ports over the commentary from their original DVD release for this one.  It’s a good one, featuring L.Q. Jones, director of photography John Morrill and Code Red's Bill Olsen.  The trio discuss the shooting location, the color techniques (which are remarkable), and the film’s cast and crew.

Special Features:

Tucked inside some seriously great (and limited) slipcover art, this Ronin Flix exclusive features the commentary and an interview with L.Q. Jones.  It is unfortunate that executive producer L.Q. Jones didn’t keep traversing down the genre’s gruesome path.  He appears here for a special on-camera interview talking about the movie.  A selection of trailers for other Code Red releases, including this one here, rounds out the release.

  • On Camera Interview with L.Q. Jones (18 min)
  • Code Red Trailers

The Witchmaker (1969) - Blu-ray Review

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