Cry of the Banshee (1970)

Cry of the Banshee (1970), directed by Gordon Hessler.


Vincent Price: I suppose you know we are cursed from Hell to Christmas.

Witches. Witches everywhere. Some are just peasant serving girls but it is fun to call them witches so their clothes can be torn off as they are sadistically degraded before being delivered to the torture dungeon for final disposition.

But some are real witches meeting in the woods, following the Old Religion and worshiping Satan, calling on the Banshee to be their avenging fury.

Who will be left standing in the end?

This is often compared to Witchfinder General (1968); similar subject and sadistic tone, same cinematographer, and both have Vincent Price and Hilary Heath (Dwyer). The earlier film is historically more ambitious, this one is supernatural and has more of a Roger Corman look.

This is actually the third and last match-up of Price and Dwyer; the second was The Oblong Box (1969). His quip: "You've played my wife, my mistress and my daughter; when you play my mother we get married". It was his last costume picture.

The opening credits are animated by Terry Gilliam, the same style he was using for Month Python's Flying Circus around then:

Available on Blu-ray in Shout Factory's Vincent Price Collection III. It includes both the director's cut and the American International edit which has no boobage, less gore, rearranged scenes and a new score. The source is not as good as for the director's cut.

A film scholar gives a detailed commentary track with loads of biographical information.

He thinks this genre is an expression of 1960s political rebellion. Where Hammer films are a conservative holding action against vile supernatural creatures, the witchfinder movies indict the established powers. The writer and director wanted to make a counter-cultural statement where the witches were entirely free of evil, but that was not allowed.

He likes Les Baxter's score for the AIP cut.