Tracey: Love is louder than bombs, they say- so what happens when it falls in the wrong, witchy hands? In Ana Biller’s “The Love Witch,” Elaine (the titular seductress) flees from an affair that has ended in tragedy; settles in a Gothic, Technicolored mansion; and proceeds to practice her deadly, amorous spells on a series of foolish males (they get what they deserve.)
Elaine is played by the remarkable Samantha Robinson, recalling Barbara Steele in Mario Bava’s “Black Sunday.” This is a good film about bad films, about reconstructing a certain retrograde atmosphere, about riffing on Ira Levin’s “The Stepford Wives” (as well as on Bava’s films, and on several “artsy” 70s softcore). Most of all, it’s about toxic masculinity- a feminist movie that ultimately wants to FREE MEN from the (un) emotional prisons they have built for themselves.
Cousin Franz: Some movies bluntly state their message; “The Love Witch” is a blunt movie, and yet its message is hazy. One makes assumptions about the movie’s feminist politics, but what you see on the screen is a modern world where feminism is the norm, and it takes a brave woman with literal medieval, chivalric beliefs about romance to depart from feminist ways. Isn’t a woman’s freedom to feel passionately about men a feminist act in and of itself? I just wish there was more intellectual consistency to this campy bubbling cauldron. “The Love Witch” is much smarter than it looks- but not as smart as it thinks it is. I have to praise Ana Biller for her many low-budgeted technical triumphs, and for engaging with feminist ideas in a way that isn’t trite. But the spell just didn’t work on me.
Beatricia: Hasn’t this writer / director spent any time in a witches’ coven, like the rest of us? SO INACCURATE. The love potion recipe used in “The Love Witch” is ridiculously off. This witch might as well try to make a peach cobbler pie with anchovies. It will only please the hungriest, most desperate of truckers. “Bewitched” was far more respectful of Wicca. That said, I suppose a bad movie that annoys you is better than a mediocre movie that makes no effect whatsoever. It looks neat, even if it is a bore.
Hank: I really don’t know what to think. This is one of those movies that is terrible on purpose. Does that make it less terrible? If you gouge your eyes out with a rusty spoon, but you’re just doing it to make an ironic commentary on the absurdity of eye gouging, does it hurt less?
Grandpa Felicius: Somewhere in his grave, Jesus “Jess” Franco, the Spanish auteur behind such classics as “Vampyros Lesbos” and “Intimate Diary of a Nymphomaniac,” finally feels appreciated and redeemed. Those of us on this side of the coffin are just mortified by this “experiment.” The Empress has no clothes- literally.
Trent: Sexy find, Tracey! I don’t know what everyone is complaining about. This is the best, nudest movie we’ve seen in a while!
Blurbarella: “Hypnotized by– A Witch,– General Francisco Franco– Became– the Nudest– Dictator– Of All Time.”
Hank: Hey! We didn’t say several of those words! Don’t ad-lib, Blurbarella!
2 out of 6 Cherries