Think Before You Dig Up That Graveyard! – Witchcraft (1964)


Lon Chaney is furious!  A developer is tearing up his family’s graveyard even though no one has been recently buried there in the last 150 years.  Bill Lanier played by Jack Hedley of course is not unreasonable and will do everything he can to help relocate the graves to another site but Morgan Whitlock, played by Chaney, will have none of it.  Lanier soon learns that some of the Whitlock’s were witches and they lay in the graveyard, including one who was buried alive.  Of course, after the plow went through, she was resurrected and is now out for blood against the people who put her there, or at least their descendents.

There are of course numerous plot holes which are to be expected in a B-horror film.  How did the witch get revived?  The tractor did not dig deep enough to unearth her, so unless there were some type of wards on her gravestone, it was not made clear.  How does she know who to kill?  We see her cast no spells and yet she shows up wherever the Lanier family members happen to be.  All of it and more can just be simply explained away by saying it was magic.  Sometimes when faced with blatancy of things, you must just accept them on principle no matter how far fetched they may be.  Such is the case with many older horror and science fiction films.  Suspending your disbelief will let you enjoy the films that much more.

Chaney of course is his usual brilliant self playing the old curmudgeon Whitlock.  He is much older than when he played the Wolf Man, twenty years or so, but still looks almost the same as he did then, just a bit bigger and a bit more lived.  This is not his best role, far from it, and there is little to work with here as the dialogue for his character is sparse, repetitive and contrived, but he does his best and his best is usually better than most others.  It is a little bit of a shame that he did not get to appear in better roles later during his life, but it was also widely known that he was a bit of an alcoholic, the downfall of many a classic actor during that time period.

The rest of the cast was serviceable, Hedley most notably, with fine performances from Jill Dixon and Diane Clare as well.  It was strange that the revived witch resorted to voodoo dolls most of the time, but with a lower budget, you resort to the magic you can get away with effects-wise.  Don Sharp did a good job directing, and it may not have been Oscar worthy but the film ended up being pretty decent.  Another great little horror film from years past that might go unnoticed unless a fan of Chaney and one to kick your feet up and unwind to.

4 out of 5

1 reply »

  1. Finally coming out on bluray in less than two months! One of my faves. Innocuous but effective, eerie, atmospheric little gem. Love Lon Chaney Jr’s blustery , half drunk performance. This film is a diamond in the rough.

    Liked by 1 person

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