THE LOVE WITCH
(director/writer: Anna Biller; cinematographer: M. David Mullen; editor: Anna Biller; music: Anna Biller; cast: Samantha Robinson (Elaine Parks), Gian Keys (Griff Meadows), Laura Waddell (Trish), Jeffrey Vincent Parise (Wayne Peters), Jared Sanford (Gahan), Jennifer Couch (Wendy, magic store vendor), Robert Seeley (Richard), Elle Evans (Star), Randy Evans (Steve), Jennifer Ingrum (Barbara), Giselle DaMier (Harpist), Randy Evans (Steve), Clive Ashborn (Prof. King), Lily Holleman (Miss Shelley Curtis), April Showers (Herself), Stephen Wozniak (Jerry); Runtime: 120; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Anna Biller; Oscilloscope Laboratories; 2016)
“A retro 1960s film about witches, that puts a spotlight on their supernatural powers to drive men crazy over sex.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
A retro 1960s film about witches, that puts a spotlight on their supernatural powers to drive men crazy over sex. But unlike Hollywood, it takes its witches seriously. Anna Biller (“Viva”/”The Hypnotist”) directs, edits, produces and writes this crude, personal essay, soft-core porn, energetic black comedy tale about harmful needy witches operating on a love principle in a hostile rural area. Its main point is perhaps that the hatred of witches is derived from the fear of women’s sexuality being a deadly weapon. The attractive Elaine Parks (Samantha Robinson) has recently become a witch when she becomes upset her husband (Stephen Wozniak) leaves her. He suspiciously dies from a drug overdose, in which Elaine is suspected of homicide but not charged. She promptly moves from San Francisco to the small town of Eureka, where she rents the occult decorated apartment of a fellow witch named Barbara (Jennifer Ingrum). The landlord is the interior decorator Trish (Laura Waddell), who has a stable but unexciting marriage with Richard (Robert Seeley). Adhering to her belief that she is willing to give a man all her love and to satisfy all his whims, Elaine picks up at the town plaza the haughty libertine French and English lit professor Wayne Peters (Jeffrey Vincent Parise ) while he’s chatting with a female friend (Lily Holleman). He takes her to his country retreat, an hour from town, for some lovemaking. When she gives him an hallucinogenic drink he freaks out and the great sex has him whimper like a pussy that he loves her. He will soon die from a heart attack. Elaine buries him on his grounds without reporting his death, and places a witch bottle (containing piss, jimson weed and a used tampon) as a grave marking. Elaine then seduces the uptight Richard, and when he gets all the forbidden sex he secretly desired he’s overcome with shame, tears and lust. This whimpering change will lead to him leaving his wife and his suicide. Also driven crazy for loving the witch, is the womanizing hunky bachelor cop, Sergeant Griff Meadows (Gian Keys), who investigates Elaine for the professor’s suspicious death but meets with foul play when he finds out she considers him her ideal mate and he marries her in a mock wedding ceremony performed by her black magic entourage. There’s much to admire about the unusual trippy visuals, but the acting is wooden and the story is a heavy slog of too many lectures and explanations of the occult to register with this viewer. Though flawed as an exploitation drama, it nevertheless has the weirdness of a Jean Rollin schlocky Euro art/trash film that might entice travelers in that circle of macabre films.
REVIEWED ON 12/14/2016 GRADE: B-