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Cry Of The Banshee (1970)

There was nothing the red blooded male cinema goer of the late 60s and early 70s liked more than watching a buxom wench get dragged along a muddy street before being stripped, whipped and set on fire.

You may well think that, with the amount of crap films along the same lines of Cry Of The Banshee being released at the time. I certainly began to think it, as I gamely tried to stay awake through the first half hour of this effort.

Oh, look - another girl's top has been ripped off. Look at Vincent smirk - ooh, isn't he evil? Brrrrrr.

Luckily (for me) if you stick with it, it does get better. Vincent's witch-hunting gets him in bother with the real McCoy, and before you can say "perhaps I shouldn't have raped and murdered all those girls", he's brought down a curse on his entire family. Well, when I say curse, I mean Patrick Mower (which is pretty much the same thing - he seemed to pretty much damn into obscurity every film he appeared in, anyway). Patrick's a werewolf, his appearance signalled by the cry of the banshee, which sounds like a werewolf to me (so why not call it Cry Of The Werewolf? Search me. Perhaps someone had already used that title). The werewolf proceeds to munch his way through Vincent's family, until a very nice little twist ending.

Unlike most films of the time, the special effects guys really understood the limitations of their craft - so we never actually get to see the werewolf come out of the shadows. No bad thing, by the look of his silhouette. Still, as An American Werewolf In Paris showed - in the main, werewolves look crap anyway, even using today's computer aided technology.

The only main problem with the film is the tone. Unlike most other witch hunting films, in this case the witches really are followers of Satan, which rather means that you're rooting for the bad guys. Still, whatever yanks your plank, I suppose.

Oh, and one last thing - the chief witch's name is Oona, and it gets repeated so often I was really hoping that someone on the set would break into a chorus of "Una Paloma Blanca". Sadly, no-one did.

Burn the witch! And while you're at it, burn the scripts as well - and get someone to re-write them - this time with a Banshee in the storyline.

Special note:

The film starts, extremely promisingly, with a title sequence devised and animated by Monty Python member and future film director Terry Gilliam.

Director: Gordon Hessler Writer(s): Tim Kelly

Cast: Vincent Price - Lord Edward Whitman, Hilary Heath - Maureen Whitman, Carl Rigg - Harry Whitman, Patrick Mower - Roderick, Essy Persson - Lady Patricia Whitman, Marshall Jones - Father Tom, Elisabeth Bergner - Oona, Stephen Chase - Sean Whitman, Sally Geeson - Sarah, Hugh Griffith - Mickey, Robert Hutton - Party Guest, Andrew McCulloch - Bully Boy, Pamela Fairbrother - Margaret Donald (Witch), Quinn O'Hara - Maggie (Witch), Jan Rossini - Bess

 

Last updated: February 26, 2010

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