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Legend of the Witches (1970) & Secret Rites (1971) [DVD + Blu-ray)

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For the majority of film, recreations of rites and rituals are kept tasteful, giving the whole film a sense of educational value. Sharing the secrets of initiation into a coven, divination through animal sacrifice, ritual scrying, the casting of a ‘death spell’, and the chilling intimacy of a Black Mass. It certainly sounds like a British film from the 1970s (which it is of course) but there's no question that it's a bit too try and a bit too much like a professor talking to himself. This ritual includes a naked man having a blindfold put on him and his led through the dark having to trust the woman leading him.

It lacks deviation in expression so that one sentence often moves into another without much consequence.Although clearly not the music of choice by the coven, (at times you here low-level snippets of the actual ritual music) it draws in an audience, who might otherwise have dismissed the film entirely. The 39th release in the long standing BFI Flipside strand sees the release of two far out British films. Other extras include an interview with ‘father of Wicca’ Gerald Gardner from TV documentary Out of Step, 1957 in which he attempts to dispel the blackened view of witchcraft with reluctance from its interviewer, journalist Dan Farson. We’re certainly never too far away from an extended ritual sequence, with naked bodies dancing around flames or gathered around magic circles.

We find out how her letter to Alex, instigates her meeting with a fellow witch, how covens determine a person is right for initiation into a coven, and more about what is expected of a witch.Although nice to see, it is difficult for the director to fully encapsulate the significance of these objects on film and the shot is simply a scan over objects as the narrator goes on to talk about spells and the doll effigies with pins stuck into them. With its atmosphere and visuals, this really does come off as one of the better British horror films from this period. Providing a very 70s psychedelic sound, the music fits brilliantly with the performance of the rituals within the film.

Exploitation director Derek Ford’s ( The Wife Swappers) Secret Rites and Malcolm Leigh’s Legend of the Witches. BFI Flipside is dedicated to rediscovering the margins of British film, reclaiming a space for forgotten movies and filmmakers who would otherwise be in danger of disappearing from our screens forever. I was really shocked to see how well the film looks and this includes the various lighting that was done to highlight certain things. There are are all sorts of Black Masses and strange rituals being done under the moonlight and they simply come across beautifully on the screen.

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