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The Witches (1967)

Joan Fontaine , Kay Walsh , Cyril Frankel  |  NR |  DVD
3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Actors: Joan Fontaine, Kay Walsh, Alec McCowen, Ann Bell, Ingrid Boulting
  • Directors: Cyril Frankel
  • Writers: Nigel Kneale, Norah Lofts
  • Producers: Anthony Nelson Keys
  • Format: Anamorphic, Color, Widescreen, NTSC
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono)
  • Region: All Regions
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.66:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: Starz / Anchor Bay
  • DVD Release Date: July 25, 2000
  • Run Time: 90 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: 6305808171
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #148,625 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "The Witches" on IMDb

Special Features

  • UK Theatrical Trailer
  • :20 & :60 Combo TV Spots with "Prehistoric Women"
  • Exclusive "World of Hammer" episode entitled Wicked Women

Editorial Reviews

The Witches (1967) Joan Fontaine (Actor), Kay Walsh (Actor), Cyril Frankel (Director)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
29 of 30 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars It's always the quiet chills that "get" you! June 30, 2001
Lucky me--I'm both a big fan of Joan Fontaine and Hammer Films, so "The Witches" is heaven-sent! I'd read about this movie years ago and have even caught snippets of it over the decades, but nothing prepared me for Anchor Bay's excellent DVD release! Crisp, clean, with deluxe packaging and interesting "extras," The Witches is a quality product all the way. Ms. Fontaine--whose screen persona ranged from innocent and shy (see Hitchcock's "Rebecca" and "Suspicion") to connivingly evil ("Born to Be Bad")--gives a low-key and totally convincing performance as "Gwen Mayfield," ex-missionionary teacher. Her new assignment, acting as headmistress to a private church school in quiet Heddaby (Cornish England) would seem to be an ideal move, considering her traumatic turn at the hands of African witchdoctors (shown in an exciting prologue). But what's this? There are strange "undercurrents" in Heddaby! Drownings, headless voodoo dolls, a burned-out church, and "the mangle!" Could it be? Is there actually (gasp)witchcraft afoot? Well, needless to say, with a movie called "The Witches," you can draw your own conclusions! It's interesting to see Fontaine at work--she lacks the bombast of, say, a Bette Davis or Joan Crawford. Instead, she handles her duties as Hammer horror heroine with great subtlety and panache. Watch for British film vet Kay Walsh, who practically steals the film--she's excellent! "The Witches" gets my highest recommendation!
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Hammer classic August 13, 1999
By A Customer
Format:VHS Tape
This film actually exceeded my expectations. Though Hammer studios put out a lot of classy horror and sci-fi films they also released some real duds. This one is scripted by screenwriter Nigel Kneale (though adapted from a novel) who also wrote the entertaining Quatermass series for Hammer, and like those films Kneale's writing lends an intelligence that is often missing in this type of movie. Joan Fontaine is also exceptional in her role and the direction by Cyril Frankel is above par. The ending may leave a little to be desired, and the witch ceremony was more funny than frightening, but don't let these minor objections deter you if you are a fan of Hammer films or the classic horror genre in general. Also of note, the Anchor Bay (distributor) tape has a beautiful pristine picture and the remastered sound is also outstanding.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Joan Fontaine in a superb performance June 13, 2001
Format:VHS Tape|Verified Purchase
A classic Hammer chiller, THE WITCHES, which is also known as THE DEVIL'S OWN, is an engrossing story of the occult set in the seeemingly harmless English countryside.
Haunted by the terrors she saw in Africa, schoolteacher Gwen Mayfield (Joan Fontaine) accepts a teaching position in a local Haddaby School run by Alex Bax (Alec McCowan) and his sister Stephanie (Kay Walsh).
Soon, however, as mysterious occurances start, such as a boy falling into a coma, a headless doll found impaled with pins, Gwen starts re-living her African nightmare again.
Very good story, although the climactic witch-coven scene draws more laughs than gasps, with the Witch Queen looking like a cross between Edina from AB FAB and Bullwinkle the Moose.
In deluxe widescreen (aspect ratio of 1.66:1), and original trailers of the film under the DEVIL'S OWN title, and paired with another Hammer film PREHISTORIC WOMEN.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Joan Fontaine to the rescue November 7, 2000
By A Customer
Joan Fontaine is luminous in this Hammer thriller. Actually, there are few thrills but many surprises in this intelligently written and acted film. After a traumatizing event in Africa, Fontaine moves back to England and settles into a teaching position in a small village. Doesn't take long for Fontaine to realize somthing is seriously wrong in this quaint town. The suspense builds slowly and Fontaine gives a wonderful performance. Kay Walsh is also effective in a supporting role. This DVD is beautifully rendered, with pristine picture and sound.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Joan Fontaine and the Coven of the Kooky April 9, 2004
In her last appearance on the silver screen, Joan Fontaine, who won an Academy Award for her performance in Suspicion (1941), stars in this Hammer Studios release of The Witches (1967). While the material here is certainly not of the caliber of some of the previous films she's appeared in, it is fun to watch. Maybe I have some lurid fascination of seeing once great stars reduced to appearing in roles they probably would have never considered in their prime.
Joan plays Gwen Mayfield, a teacher who has just been accepted to assume a position as head teacher of a private school in a small English village. The film starts off with Gwen teaching at a mission school in Africa, and, after an incident with a native witch doctor that caused Gwen to have a nervous breakdown, she has now returned to England to put the pieces of her life back together.
After formally meeting with her employers, Alan and Stephanie Bax, played by Alec McCowen and Kay Walsh respectively, the well-to-do resident benefactors of the town who are also brother and sister, Gwen settles into her new surroundings. The situation seems idyllic, a nice, quiet position in a small town where little happens, but, as the saying goes, still waters sometimes run deep. The oddness begins when two of her pre-teen students, a boy and a very weird girl, exhibit closeness to each other, one borne of a budding romance. This causes consternation among some of the townspeople, and soon the boy falls ill of a mysterious coma. Apparently there was more than just a passing concern about what might happen if the relationship between these two continued, specifically in respect to the girl.
Rumors of witchery begin to reach Gwen, and the deeper she probes, the more ominous the proceedings.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Fontaine carries this
For a description of the plot, etc., read other reviews. Just some brief thoughts on this Hammer classic... Read more
Published 17 months ago by Joker
5.0 out of 5 stars Hammer's 1966 The Witches is way under-rated
I'm a fan of many Hammer Studio's productions but had never watched 1966's The Witches until now, thanks to a kind soul posting it on youtube (the picture and audio quality were... Read more
Published 19 months ago by Z Hayes
3.0 out of 5 stars Oh want a tangled web we weave
Gwen Mayfield (Joan Fontaine) fresh from an encounter with a witch doctor is given an opportunity to recover and a position in a private school in England. Read more
Published 22 months ago by bernie
4.0 out of 5 stars The Witches
Great film. Have watched it many times, but does anyone know why it's $50 on DVD? Would like to see this on Blu-ray.
Published on September 25, 2011 by spaceboy
4.0 out of 5 stars Joan Fontaine & Hammer Horror: An Entertaining Scream
In spite of low budgets and quick shooting schedules, Hammer Horror was often able to attract major stars--and in this instance the star was Joan Fontaine (b. Read more
Published on July 10, 2011 by Gary F. Taylor
4.0 out of 5 stars Hammer Horror Meets Hitchcock.
It was quite enjoyable to see THE WITCHES again after almost 40 years. The widescreen print used for the DVD was in much better shape than the one I saw at the drive-in. Read more
Published on May 18, 2010 by Chip Kaufmann
1.0 out of 5 stars CAVEAT EMPTOR - BUYER BEWARE!!!
I was so glad when on a whim one day I noticed that old Hammer horror titles previously released by Anchor Bay Entertainment appeared to be getting a re-release. Read more
Published on December 9, 2009 by Dead Elvis 1988
4.0 out of 5 stars Minor classic
Apparently this was not a success at the time of its release. I don't understand this at all because what Hammer have done here is produce a minor masterpiece in their substantial... Read more
Published on August 7, 2009 by S J Buck
5.0 out of 5 stars the book is much better
The Witches This was a big disappointment altho I like the book very much. I would give the book an A and this movie a D.
Published on February 24, 2009 by R. A. Wells
5.0 out of 5 stars Highly effective supernatural thriller.
Kudos to the multiple other posters who recognize this as a winner! It's hard, indeed, to understand why other Hammer fans ignore this entry, particularly since its script is far... Read more
Published on July 22, 2008 by Brent Carleton
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