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The Witch Who Came From the Sea

4.0 out of 5 stars 23 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Abused as a child by her alcoholic father, Molly is now a dysfunctional waitress in a local seaside bar off the coast of California who casually picks up muscle men from Venice Beach and takes them home to bed... only to castrate them with a shaving razor! Subversive Cinema presents The Witch Who Came from the Sea, which was banned across the world, completely restored to its widescreen and uncut glory for the first time ever on DVD. Shot by John Carpenters cinematographer Dean Cundy (Jurassic Park, The Thing) this cult classic from director Matt Cimber (Butterfly, Gemini Affair) stars Academy Award Nominee Millie Perkins (The Diary of Anne Frank) as the confused Molly.

Special Features

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Product Details

  • Actors: Millie Perkins, Lonny Chapman, Vanessa Brown, Peggy Feury, Jean Pierre Camps
  • Directors: Matt Cimber
  • Writers: Robert Thom
  • Producers: Matt Cimber, Jefferson Richard
  • Format: Closed-captioned, Color, Dolby, Special Edition, Widescreen, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated:
    R
    Restricted
  • Studio: Subversive Cinema
  • DVD Release Date: December 21, 2004
  • Run Time: 83 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00068S3K0
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #146,354 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "The Witch Who Came From the Sea" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By The Movie Man VINE VOICE on February 20, 2016
Format: Blu-ray
“American Horror Project: Volume 1” contains, according to press materials, “three tales of violence and madness from the 1970s.” The first, “Malatesta’s Carnival of Blood” (1973), is set at an atmosphere-rich, run-down fairground. Vena Norris (Janine Carazo) and her parents get jobs at Mr. Malatesta’s carnival running a midway game booth. But this is no ordinary carny. Its manager, Mr. Blood, is a vampire who needs a constant supply of blood from visitors. Also on hand is a family of cannibals. And in an underground chamber, Malatesta himself performs deranged experiments and runs old horror films. Herve Villechaize makes an appearance five years before taking on the role of Mr. Roarke’s assistant Tattoo on TV’s “Fantasy Island.”

“The Witch Who Came From the Sea” (1976) stars Millie Perkins (“The Diary of Ann Frank”) as Molly, a young woman who experiences bizarre and violent fantasies. Abused as a child by her alcoholic father, Molly is now a dysfunctional waitress in a local seaside bar off the coast of California who casually picks up muscle men from Venice Beach and takes them home to bed… only to mutilate them in an attempt to reconcile the sexual abuse she suffered. Director Matt Cimber combines gruesome images with a dreamlike portrait of a woman spiraling deeper and deeper into psychosis via flashbacks, distorted sound, slow motion, and flash cuts. These touches give the film an art house feel and Perkins’ intense performance is much more effective than one would expect in an exploitation flick.

“The Premonotion” (1976) is a tale of psychic terror. After she’s released from a mental institution, unstable Andrea (Ellen Barber) is determined to locate the daughter she gave up for adoption years earlier.
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Format: DVD
The poster art for "The Witch Who Came from the Sea"--which is reproduced in gorgeous color, but frustratingly cropped form, on the cover of the DVD--has absolutely nothing to do with the movie itself. "Witch" is not a horror film, but rather a scathing indictment of child sexual abuse which occasionally veers into horror-like territory.
Millie Perkins plays Molly, a spacy barmaid who idolizes men on TV, dotes on her two young nephews, and often recalls her late, seafaring father with unnatural reverence. She also has ugly castration fantasies that she acts upon about fifteen minutes into the film(don't worry, I'm not giving away the movie's major revelation here). Perkins is really good in this role, and Lonny Chapman also gives a fine performance as her grizzled boyfriend.
What else works in this film? The dreary, battered Venice Beach and Santa Monica location shots. The creepy soundtrack. Molly's sad, uncomfortable, frightening flashbacks to childhood. What DOESN'T work is the dialogue. Robert Thom(Perkins' husband at the time) wrote in the Ernest Hemingway-Rod Serling style; everyone in the film speaks exactly the same way, and they all sound so nutty that you'll often be left scratching your head in frustration. I think that Thom was going for a folksy, man-and-woman-on-the-street feel(for 1976), but the language comes off as goofy and stilted. That said, watch the film anyway--it really is worth it. You'll never, ever forget "Witch". (Without giving anything away, the final scene is wonderful, almost perfect.)
Extras include commentary by Perkins, director Matt Cimber, and cinematographer Dean Cundey; interviews with the same; and trailers for some other movies. What's really interesting about the film itself is that there are two or three scenes which I never saw on the ancient VHS print I used to rent. Brace yourself before you see this; obviously the film is not suitable for children, but many adults will find it extraordinarily unpleasant as well.
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Format: Blu-ray
One of the great joys of being a horror fan is that even the most marginal titles offer up a sense of time and place that few other film genres can offer. They not only reflect the cinematic sensibilities of the era in which they were made, but also its social fears and anxieties filtered through a sieve of pop culture nightmares. The American Horror Project collects three such under-the-radar films and showcases them with all the pomp and circumstance usually reserved for legit classics like Texas Chainsaw or Night of the Living Dead.

Bear in mind, there are only so many undiscovered horror gems left to polish. In fact, each film in the set stretches the definition of horror to the breaking point; more than a few fans will find them too artistic, inept or obtuse for their tastes altogether. But for those with an open mind - and an adventurous film collection - Arrow Video's limited edition will expand your horror horizons.

Malatesta's Carnival of Blood (1973) is certainly the most difficult of the group to put into words. Shot on a shoestring in a run-down Philadelphia fairground, director Christopher Speeth blends everything from performance art to kitschy set design to cannibal gore effects. The story, what there is of one, centers around nocturnal ghouls who emerge from secret caverns beneath the carnival at the bidding of their mysterious Master. Malatesta's best moments are of the experimental sort, including the use of rear-projection, an illogical narrative and a discordantly memorable soundtrack. Whether all of it was intentional or just regional schlock filmmaking at its worst is up for debate.

The Witch Who Came from the Sea (1976) is a much more confident piece of filmmaking that winds up being just as challenging.
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