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October 21st, 2011


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11:28 pm - 31 Days of Halloween: The Naked Witch
This evening my wife and I realized that it had been ages since the last time we'd been to the local used media store. It's 2011, you know? Physical media is kinda... well, it's not dead, exactly, but it's on its way out. But she wanted a movie that Netflix doesn't offer in any format, so we stopped to see if they had it, and in fact, they did!

And while she was waiting for the clerk to Xerox her a color copy of the case insert (long story), I checked out the horror section, and found out that customers use it as a dumping ground for DVDs they've decided not to buy. Either that, or the employees actually believe that Married to the Mob is a horror film.

Anyway, I picked up a copy of The Naked Witch, not because it looked at all good, but because I recognized the logo from Something Weird Video, and I learned long ago that SWV DVDs are not to be passed up. SWV specializes in B-movies, but especially otherwise-unavailable exploitation films, and they tend to have "good" taste. The films in their catalog aren't merely obscure, they're remarkably bizarre. They also fill their DVDs with hours of special features -- usually short films which collectively run much longer than the main feature.

I made my purchase several minutes before my wife did, and while we were waiting in line, I realized that I really hadn't bothered to even look at the blurb back of the case. She started reading it aloud, and I knew I'd made the right choice.

Anyway, The Naked Witch takes place in a rural part of central Texas which is populated by German immigrants who still speak their native language, but do so with American accents. Is there any basis in this at all, other perhaps than the idea that Texas was settled by a lot of Germans way the hell back when? I doubt it, but I'm too lazy to Google it. Our main character is a student named The Student who has come to research the history of witchcraft in the area. He meets the locals -- particularly a buxom, blonde woman named Kirska, whose personality doesn't get developed at all.

The Student learns that a witch was executed here a hundred years ago, buried with a stake plunged through her heart. He goes looking, finds the body, and pulls the stake as a souvenir, which causes her to decompose in reverse. This was an awesome effect in Hellraiser but in The Naked Witch it looks like it cost about six dollars (that's six dollars 2011, not six dollars 1961, which is when the movie was made). The Naked Witch (that's the character's name) is resurrected and begins a killing spree, and it's up to The Student to re-stake her and bury her before she takes care of Kirska.

The Naked Witch spends most of her time naked, which involves less onscreen nudity than you'd expect. When she first shows up, there's a big, black splotch on the screen covering her below the neck, which is weird because sooner or later it goes away, and we do, in fact, get to see the actress nude. The only explanation I can think of is that the film was salvaged from multiple prints, one or more of which was censored.

IMDB estimates that the movie cost about $8,000, which is unsurprising. There are no special effects to speak of, and nobody in the movie is famous, so these people probably exchanged an afternoon's easy acting work for $50 or so. Most of the budget probably went to developing the film stock. Actually, the more I think about this film, the more likely I am to overlook its many, glaring faults. Maybe it's because it's basically a softcore erotic film, and the production is very aware of its shortcomings. And when I call it softcore erotica, understand that it's very tame by modern standards. There's no sex, just exposed breasts (specifically one matched pair), and no real attention is called to the nudity. More explicit material is abundantly available on network television.

It is a genuine horror film, if not a very scary one, and it was directed by Larry Buchanan, which is one of those names that people like me know. He was a fairly prolific writer/director/producer of (mostly TV) schlock movies. Ever see Mars Needs Women? Me either, but it's one of his. Good title. The Eye Creatures is also one of his. He was happy to be a hack, and though he never rose to the level of Roger Corman, he built as admirable a resume as he could; he made a big splash in the shallow end of the pool.

Here's the trailer, which is comprised entirely of footage from a different movie.

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31 Days of Halloween: The Naked Witch - Garmonbozia for the soul.

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