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Haunted by the terrors of her experience with African witch-doctors, school teacher Gwen Mayfield (Joan Fontaine) accepts an appointment as headmistress at the Haddaby School run by Alan Bax (Alec McCowen) and his sister Stephanie (Kay Walsh). Gwen initially revels in the peacfulness she has found in the quiet English countryside but soon begins to sense "undercurrents." Before long, a local boy falls into a coman and Gwen discovers a voodoo doll impaled by pins. The danger that follows brings her face to face with witchcraft as a series of disasters unfold and lead her to the horrible truth.
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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.
The author is Norah Lofts, writing under the psuedonym Peter Curtis for "The Devil's Own", a wonderful author of English historical fiction. Her novels are fairly inexpensive and easy to find. Give the book a try!
Joan Fontaine (an older one, but still as elegant as ever) whom I adored in Rebecca [Blu-ray] plays a schoolmistress, Gwen Mayfield, who fresh from a traumatic experience in Africa, gets a position as headmistress of a small village school. Just as she is settling in, she discovers some troubling things afoot in the village - a young girl seems to be abused by her grandmother, a promising young man slips into a coma, and his father later turns up dead. In addition to all these unfortunate events, mysterious headless, pin-pricked dolls make their appearances around the village. Gwen's fragile state of mind also begins to conjure images of the voodoo dolls she saw in Africa. Is she losing her mind or is witchcraft still thriving in this English village?
There is a high level of atmosphere and suspense in this under appreciated Hammer movie, and it is also one of the most beautifully-filmed of the studio's productions. I loved the idyllic English country setting which contrasted well with the underlying menace and evil residing among the villagers. Fontaine's understated performance was well-done, but credit should also go to Kay Walsh who plays Stephanie Bax, the intellectual, spirited, and seeming ally. I admit I found the finale quite a spectacle, but if you can get past the cheesy extras and focus on the actual storytelling, this is well worth one's time, especially for fans of classic horror.