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The Witches
The Devil's Own

UK 1966
produced by
Anthony Nelson-Keys for Hammer, Seven Arts
directed by Cyril Frankel
starring Joan Fontaine, Kay Walsh, Alan McCowen, Ingrid Brett, Martin Stephens, Gwen Ffrangcon-Davies, Duncan Lamont, Leonard Rossiter
screenplay by Nigel Kneale, based on the novel The Devil's Own by Peter Curtis, music by Richard Rodney Bennett

review by
Mike Haberfelner

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Even though she had a nervous breakdown due to tribal warfare mixed with back magic during her stay in Africa, siblings Alan (Alan McCowen) & Stephanie Bax (Kay Walsh) gladly accept Gwen Mayfield (Joan Fontaine) as the new headmaster of their private school in the rural British village Heggaby. 

But it is not before long that Gwen notices a few things are not quite alright in Heggaby - for one, Alan Bax likes to dress & act like a priest, even though he is not, and the whole village is desperate to keep two 13-year-old lovers, Linda Rigg (Ingrid Brett) & Ronnie (Martin Stephens) apart for no apparent reason. 

After Ronnie's escape from the town & his father's violent death Gwen starts suspecting witchcraft - with Linda's granny (Gwen Ffragcon-Davies) as the head witch - & she seems to have gotten too close to the truth as the same night she is scared witless by a demon who previously came after her in Africa. When she awakes the next day in doctor Wallis' (Leonard Rossiter) clinic, she seems to suffer from total amnesia, & the doctor does little to retrigger her memory, in fact keeping everyone who could remind her of her past life safely away from her. 

So, when she finds her memory again, Gwen keeps it a secret & escapes from the asylum, back to Heggaby. When she arives at the Bax's manor though, she finds doctor Wallis already waiting for her, eager to take her back, but she also finds an ally in Stephanie Bax, who insists on her staying, reconvalescent or not. Unfortunately that night Stephanie turns out to be the head of Heggaby's witches' coven, who wants to take over Linda's juvenile body to live another lifespan, & she wants to win Gwen over for her cause. Gwen, though disagreeing, sees little chance to stop Stephanie's evil plans though & has to watch the ceremony in which Linda is to be sacrificed helplessly. 

That is, until the last minute, when Gwen cuts her own wrist, spilling blood on the sacrificial table & spoiling it for the ceremony. Stephanie dies in shock while the rest of Heggaby's witches come to their senses ... & Gwen stays respected headmistress of her school.


Though the main villainess as well as the means to stop her are given away way too soon, this is an interesting supernatural mystery, done with great care in best Hammer house-style, & it does offer more than the usual number of plottwists & turns without descending to the ridiculous. A completely enjoyable movie.


review © by Mike Haberfelner


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Robots and rats,
demons and potholes,
cuddly toys and
shopping mall Santas,
love and death and everything in between,
Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

is all of that.


Tales to Chill
Your Bones to
a collection of short stories and mini-plays
ranging from the horrific to the darkly humourous,
from the post-apocalyptic
to the weirdly romantic,
tales that will give you a chill and maybe a chuckle, all thought up by
the twisted mind of
screenwriter and film reviewer
Michael Haberfelner.


Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

the new anthology by
Michael Haberfelner


Out now from




On the same day
a Burglar wants to kill you
and your Ex wants
to make up ...
... and for the life of it,
you can't decide


A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
Melanie Denholme
directed by
David V.G. Davies
written by
Michael Haberfelner
Ryan Hunter and
Rudy Barrow

out now on DVD