The British really know how to do folk horror, and Witchcraft is a fine example of the genre. It is beautifully filmed with a foreboding atmosphere, centered around a centuries old family feud. Lon Chaney Jr. shows up intermittently to bellow and shake his cane at his adversaries, though he becomes a more frightening figure when leading sacrificial rites.
"Born in evil. Death in burning."
This is a film that can be enjoyed more for the creepy visuals than the traditional story of witches who've been wronged or a star-crossed romance. While it's not clear why Vanessa is a silent witch, whether she forgot how to use her voice after 300 years of internment or she just doesn't have much to say, it certainly makes her a more frightening figure. It's unfortunate this trait wasn't shared by Morgan Whitlock, who could have been far more menacing with a less bellicose and loud manner when expressing his seething anger towards the Laniers. It is difficult to understand why the Laniers would want to live in a house formerly owned by witches or why they couldn't foresee any issues with bulldozing a cemetery where one of their ancestors had buried a witch alive. I believe the Whitlocks may have exacted some measure of revenge in the end, though probably not in the way they had preferred.
Thanks for covering this under-rated gem, Christine. I really enjoyed your review. Along with "Horror Hotel," it's one of my favorite 1960s supernatural tales!
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