Witchcraft (1964 film)
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Don Sharp|
|Produced by||Robert L. Lippert|
|Screenplay by||Harry Spalding|
|Starring||Lon Chaney Jr.|
|Distributed by||20th Century-Fox|
In the 17th century, the Lanier family buried a Whitlock woman alive as a witch and took over the Whitlock estate. A bitter hatred of the Lanier family continues into the present. However two descendants, Amy Whitlock (Diane Clare) and Todd Lanier (David Weston), fall in love and plan to marry regardless of the families' objections.
The Laniers, headed by Bill Lanier (Jack Hedley), are building developers who now own part of the old Whitlock Estate. Without their knowledge, and following the instructions of Lanier manager Myles Forrester (Barry Linehan), a bulldozer overturns headstones and churns up graves in the old Whitlock Cemetery. At night, when all is quiet, an exhumed grave opens, and Vanessa Whitlock (Yvette Rees), the witch buried centuries ago, rises from the grave. Together with Morgan Whitlock (Lon Chaney Jr.), they use their witchcraft, and one by one, the Laniers meet with various fatal accidents.
Tracy Lanier (Jill Dixon) follows her future sister-in-law Amy into the Whitlock family crypt only to see the risen Vanessa and her witches conducting black magic rites. Tracy is captured, and while either in a trance or drugged, is tied up to be used as a human sacrifice. Looking for Tracy, Bill and Todd go to the Whitlock crypt. They find and rescue Tracy. Todd returns to the crypt entrance and looks inside for Amy, who is participating in the rituals with her family. When her father moves to make Todd the new human sacrifice, she is pushed past her breaking point and tips over a giant burning dish that sets the witch and the entire place on fire. Todd tries to reach Amy, but the entire crypt has turned into a raging inferno. Screaming her name, he can only watch as the flames consume everything.
Later, a broken Todd joins his family outside and watches the Whitlock estate burn to the ground, ending the 300-year-old nightmare.
- Lon Chaney Jr. as Morgan Whitlock
- Jack Hedley as Bill Lanier
- Jill Dixon as Tracy Lanier
- Viola Keats as Helen Lanier
- Marie Ney as Malvina Lanier
- David Weston as Todd Lanier
- Diane Clare as Amy Whitlock
- Yvette Rees as Vanessa Whitlock
- Barry Linehan as Myles Forrester
- Victor Brooks as Inspector Baldwin
- Marianne Stone as Forrester's secretary
- John Dunbar as Doctor
- Hilda Fenemore as Nurse
The film was shot over 14 days, which was twice what Robert L. Lippert productions had back in the US. Filming took place in January 1964 at Shepperton Studios just after 110 technicians had been fired from the studio.
Spalding says that director Don Sharp "realized the thing very well" and burnt down an actual house for the climax.
Witchcraft was released in the UK in March 1964 and in the U.S. the same year.
- Weaver, Tom (19 February 2003). Double Feature Creature Attack: A Monster Merger of Two More Volumes of Classic Interviews. McFarland. p. 331.
- John Hamilton, The British Independent Horror Film 1951-70 Hemlock Books 2013 p 124-128
- Film studios resuming full production. (1964, Jan 28). The Guardian (1959-2003) Retrieved from https://search.proquest.com/docview/184839939