directors Claude Alexander, Larry Buchanan
The second On Demand exploitation flick that I’ve watched from the Something Weird channel on Comcast cable On Demand (after She Freak (1967)) was the 59-minute 1961 “nudie cutie”, The Naked Witch. While the title was titillating enough, I was drawn by the film’s brevity, rather than my familiarity with it ahead of time. It comes, in part, from co-writer/co-director Larry Buchanan, a self-noted schlockmeister who would go on to bring the term, Mars Needs Women (1967) to the cultural consciousness.
The film starts out with a rather long, moderately serious documentary-style introduction to the history of witchcraft, narrating over images primarily taken from Hieronymous Bosch imagery. The film doesn’t actually have much in the way of synched sound. Once the main narrative starts, it also uses voice-over by the lead to describe the bulk of the story. It’s actually occasionally startling when someone actually says something.
The main character is a student who finds himself in the German enclave of Luckenbach, TX (who knew it was more than a song?), where the people live as though they were still in Germany in the 18th century. He’s interested in the history of witchcraft and uncovers a story of a woman who was accused of witchcraft by a local man (back generations ago) and he goes and digs up her corpse (like you do.) This triggers the woman, who wasn’t necessarily a witch in her life, just an adulteress, to come back to life (nakedly) and seek doom upon the three descendants of the man who accused her.
As for “exploitation”, the film falls under the “nudie cutie” genre. The witch is naked, though blurred out, as she romps and dances and swims around. And stabs people with her rather phallic spike.
Low-budget, as it is, hilariously campy as it is at times, there are shots and moments that have verve. That is, shots and moments amid a poorly constructed, hysterically badly acted, and vaguely dull piece of film-making. It does indeed have a naked witch and it does indeed only run 59 minutes, and outside of a few other little weird elements of charm, that’s probably all that needs to be said.