Burn, Witch, Burn (1962)

Burn, Witch, Burn (1962), directed by Sidney Hayers.

Aka Night of the Eagle.

First review

Despite the lurid title, this is one of those mild supernatural thrillers where the protagonist resists the awful truth for most of the film, becoming a believer only in the final moments. It's quite well done and finely photographed, but could have used a bit more adrenaline. Nice mood and atmosphere, but slowly paced at first.

A college professor's wife is practicing witchcraft to advance his career. He makes her stop: big mistake, as malevolent forces crash in on them from all directions. When you are searching for your wife in a crypt at midnight, you know you've gotten off the path somewhere.

It inspires some thoughts: when a loved one starts talking crazy and seems to live in an alternate reality, you either go with them or you don't. And: women sometimes exhibit secret spite and malevolence that is really scary.

I read Fritz Leiber's Conjure Wife ages ago. In the book all the women are witches, taking faculty infighting to a new level. The men are all oblivious.

His father, Fritz Leiber Sr, was a busy actor of the early 20th century. In the 1930s you often see him as Grand Inquisitors or bloodthirsty French Revolutionaries.

MGM "Limited Edition Collection" DVD-R, available for rent from ClassicFlix. Apparently early buyers of this from Amazon got a mislabeled copy of The Nun and the Sergeant (1962) instead, an error that has since been corrected.

Second review

Available on Blu-ray from Kino. The great Richard Matheson contributes a commentary track, maybe recorded during the laserdisc era? He wrote the first half of the screenplay.

He talks about other projects and stresses that when working from a novel he tries to be respectful of the author's work. He's gotten thank-you notes for that.

He seems only vaguely aware of who the actors are.

http://watershade.net/public/burn-witch-burn.jpg http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/e/ea/Night-of-the-eagle-poster.jpg