Saturday, August 9, 2014

WITCHCRAFT - Carlo Martelli - "Pact With The Devil" (1964)

Well, it ought to be pretty obvious by now that the fun never stops around here, and tonight's Saturday Special feature is no exception! Welcome to this tale of "Witchcraft" down in The Dungeon!

Besides your 'Witch Deflector,' You might want to break out 13 cloves of garlic too, just to feel comfortable!!!

"Witchcraft" is the basic tale of the Hatfield's and the McCoy's, or Why Can't We Just All Get Along? These two families, the Whitlocks and the Laniers have been at each other's throats for like 150 years! Now it's come down to leveling an ancient Whitlock unoccupied graveyard to build a new Lanier housing complex that has got Lon Chaney Jr. so upset! Most people talk crap about Lon Chaney Jr. in his waning years, but for me, he puts in a credible performance as the elder Morgan Whitlock! Jack (How I Won The Door, The New York Ripper) Hedley as Bill Lanier is on the other side of the fence!

Naturally, or probably in reality, unnaturally, the umteenth generation Laniers and McCoys have a different take on the whole scene, and David (The Masque Of The Red Death, Dr. Who) Weston as Todd Lanier, and Diane (The Haunting, The Plague Of The Zombies) Clare as Amy Whitlock are desperately in love!

This was a rare film performance by Barry Linehan, who did a ton of British TV from 1961 to 1993 on shows like "Big Breadwinner Hog," and  "The Bass Player And The Blonde!" Here he's Myles Forrester, the unscrupulous labor contractor who authorized the destruction of the ancient Whitlock graveyard! I'm not quite sure what transition I captured here, but it sure is weird!

Bill Lanier goes to the site of the Whitlock graveyard to survey the damage! The deal was that the bodies had been moved years before, and the gravestones etc were supposed to be salvaged before land leveling commenced! Then the bulldozers moved in, and that's what really pissed off Morgan Whitlock!

It just so happens that the Lanier Family also reside in an olde home formerly owned by the Whitlock family! When Bill was at the graveyard, he heard some noises and he salvaged this small piece off a grave that had some symbology that was exactly the same as the one in the Lanier's living room fireplace!

It's starting to get kind of freaky! Time to ask Grandma Lanier some questions! Marie Ney has the role of Malvina Lanier! Marie was a trooper! Her acting career started way back in 1919, and she had a total of 35 acting credits over the course of 50 years! She had one more TV appearance, but "Witchcraft" was her last film performance!

Amy Whitlock lives with Uncle Myles, and while he's out of town, it's kind of scary, so she's invited to spend the night at the Laniers! No Whitlock has stayed in the house for decades, but it's the closest thing there is for a reason for somebody to take off some of their clothes, and spice it up just a tad!

Here she is! Presenting the long dead Vanessa Whitlock as portrayed by Yvette Rees! Here's the deal! That Whitlock graveyard was supposed to be empty, but one body was left behind, that of Vanessa Whitlock, who was supposed to be burned at the stake years and years earlier by the Laniers, but was buried alive instead! Uh, Oh! Bad move! Spooky Yvette Rees only has 22 credits, but she's got some good ones like "Curse Of The Fly," "Man With Two Faces," and "A Severed Head!"

The first victim is Myles Forrester! Okay he deserved it, what else do you got? There's quite a bit of Voodoo type stuff going on, like there was a Myles primitive doll that was pushed down to the bottom of a pan full of water, and this was the result!

Next, Vanessa pays a nocturnal visit to Bill's Sister Helen Lanier as played by Viola (The Witches) Keats! The terrific lighting in this shot commands me to acknowledge the work of Cinematographer Arthur Lavis who worked on everything from "Making Electricity: Sources and Applications of Power," to "Catweazle," with stops at "Hold On: It's the Dave Clark Five," "The Penthouse," "The Horror Of It All," and "The Earth Dies Screaming" in between! "Witchcraft" was made in 1964, but it has a much stronger 40's and 50's vibe to it!

Not convinced it was only a dream, Helen Lanier decides to bail on the whole scene and get out of town! Unfortunately Vanessa Whitlock joins her on her journey, and mentally makes her drive off the edge of a cliff in a landfill to her death!  Later in the movie, Vanessa unsuccessfully tries this same stunt on Bill and Todd Lanier, but Bill snaps out of it just in the nick of time!

The one thing I did find odd was that the Whitlocks have been having their devil worshiping meetings in this mausoleum for years that is only a stone's throw away from the Lanier home, and nobody ever heard or noticed anything before!

 The composer for the music in "Witchcraft" was a gentleman named Carlo Martelli, who only has 9 composing credits to his name, but those 9 include "The Curse Of The Mummy's Tomb," "Catacombs," "Prehistoric Women," and "It!" "Witchcraft" was Carlo's first film!

With Vanessa's help, the coven led by Myles Whitlock seeks to reek more havoc on the Lanier Family!

Meanwhile, Vanessa pays a visit to Grandma Lanier, and gives her a little push down the stairs!

The coven was all prepared to sacrifice Bill's wife, Jill Dixon as Tracy Lanier to the devil, but Bill and Todd made it back from their ordel just in time to rescue her! Undeterred, Jill went on to have a very successful career on British TV during the 60's and 70's!

Here's the kicker! Sorry Todd, your sweet and unassuming girlfriend Amy is also one of them! As it turns out, blood is thicker than water or love!

Not exactly a blockbuster on it's own, "Witchcraft" was often only half of a double feature back in the day that was coupled up with flicks like "The Horror Of It All" or "House Of The Damned" to sweeten the deal! Here's a little piece of information that I wish I had known six months ago, not as a double feature, but "Witchcraft" alone can be found streaming on Amazon for $2.99! What could be more convenient than that?

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