I Compell You to Watch This Film – The Witching (1972)

Remember Orson Welles?  He starred as Charles Foster Kane in one of the greatest movies of all time, Citizen Kane.  He also happened to have a hand in writing it and directed the picture as well and it was his first big feature film which is highly regarded by all of movie-dom.  Later he starred alongside Rita Hayworth in The Lady From Shanghai, a film about murder and mystery which was also well looked upon by most, though it would take a while.  Welles would go on to star in many pictures over the years including another tale of corruption and murder alongside Charlton Heston and Janet Leigh called Touch of Evil.  He would even lend his unmistakable voice to Transformers: The Movie as Unicron.  The man, without a doubt was a genius in the film world, but even the best of men might stumble once or twice.

The Witching or Necromancy in its unaltered form as it is known as, is not necessarily a stumble, but Welles is the best thing about the film with Pamela Franklin a close second.  The question is why he ever agreed to appear in such a low budget production?  Presumably he must have needed the work as the script by Bert I. Gordon, fine purveyor of sci-fi classics The Amazing Colossal Man, War of the Colossal Beast, Attack of the Puppet People and more, was not the greatest to have ever come across his desk.  Suffice it to say, he agreed to star in this film and the end result, which by no means ended up being as great a movie as Citizen Kane, was also by no means the worst.  It definitely could have ended up being a whole lot better if he had had a hand in any of the production, writing or direction though.

The film such as it is, is about a small town that just so happens to be inhabited by a coven of witches of which Orson Welles turns out to be the leader of.  Playing Mr. Cato, Welles wants to resurrect his dead son and he cannot do so without the help of Lori Brandon played by Pamela Franklin.  The coven is full of interesting people, most of whom like to get naked and have orgies.   They also like to be nude while performing some of the rituals, and in the opening scene even break out the oil to massage the new inductee’s breasts.  Lori would go on throughout the movie seeing visions of Mr. Cato and past events, and would also appear in the buff herself.  The film was not all nudity though.  It would contain murder and a fair amount of psychedelia and surprisingly, decent acting.

Gordon also happened to direct this picture and while it would be nice to say he did a great job, it was a little lacklustre.  The reason for this might have been with the editing of the film, which was abrupt and choppy in places and supposedly even worse than the original version of the movie, of which this was not.  It did however give it an almost frenetic pace at times and due to that the picture never felt overly long or boring.  The soundtrack and music could have been better and the sound could have been boosted a bit as the film was a bit quiet in places making volume adjustments necessary.  This was definitely a different kind of outing than what Gordon would normally do, and it is interesting to see that he was able to stretch his wings once in a while.

The film would be written by Gordon and Gail March and would star other notables like Lee Purcell as Priscilla and Michael Ontkean, of Twin Peaks fame, as Lori’s husband.  They did a fairly good job with the material, but the show belonged to Pamela Franklin and to a lesser extent, the legendary Orson Welles.  There are always what-if’s in every movie, and here, it would have been nice to see what the actors could have done with a stronger script if it had been available, not to mention a general improvement overall.  The rest of the cast is forgettable and it is expected as their roles were minor compared to the rest.  It would be good to see Necromancy in its original form and compare that print to this edited version.  It is said that the films are quite different from one another in some places with Necromancy making more sense than this particular cut of the movie.  Overall, it was fun in spots and for a horror film; it was an okay C grade shlocker.  The Witching is what it is – enjoyable, cheesy and dated, but worth a gander.

3 out of 5


8 replies »

  1. I’m not so compelled though dude. I’m sorry! I know you used all your powers and stuff, but I have resisted! The lackluster is kind of a turnoff despite the turn-on of oil on breasts!


  2. The version of this movie I have is 01:22:49 , there are neither such scenes of orgies nor oil on breast. What is the playing time of yours ?


    • I don’t remember, I would have to check. There are two versions of the film, one that is PG and one that is R and as I watched the one with nudity, it is more than likely the R-rated version. There are also rumours that there was an X-rated cut once upon a time, but if it existed, it will never see the light of day now.


  3. I only watched twice this movie : the 1st time I think it was on 1973 (or 1974 ?) in a theatre. I used to go on the thursday nights sessions that usually showed B movies (horror , sci-fi , noir movies, spionage , war dramas , etc).
    Some of them included erotic scenes in the attempt to sell more tickets and it was painful to see tons of lard shaking like an earthquake.
    But I can´t recall any erotic scene on this movie.
    The 2nd time was minutes ago because I was curious and downloaded it to rewatch it.
    I think I watched the sanitized version again (lol).

    Concerning the x rated version , what may have happened is another cast to be hired to shoot hard-core scenes to be added to the original movie and be released on some joints. I cannot imagine Pamela Franklin , Lee Purcell , Michael Ontkean , Lisa James or Susan Bernard (billed as Sue Bernard) engaged on porno shooting. I had the opportunity to be acquainted to Susan Bernard in New York and I don´t think she is the kind to do this.

    Sometime ago I read an actor , who was the leading actor in a movie , to state that he heard some porno scenes had been added to such movie , despite he never even watched the original cut. I can´t remember who was him and the movie to tell you. It seems sometimes scenes are added to spice up.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. The nude coven scenes were added to the beginning of the video version, “The Witching” — they were not in the original “Necromancy.” This initial sequence actually improved the storyline. Whoever reedited the film to make “The Witching” also added a “spirit” character who gave coherence to the whole thing and in general made it a better film, including with better music. “The Witching” has a fairly terrifying ending. I would love to know more about who made “The Witching” out of “Necromancy.” Whoever did it had a clear vision and actually did a better job with the material. It feels as though someone saw potential in the footage and reworked it to salvage it.

    Liked by 1 person

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