I have been digitizing my VHS tapes slowly but surely. I mostly do it looking for old commercials or promos, but every once in a while I hit upon a movie or TV show that catches my fancy and that evening of getting stuff done is ruined. Recently I found a tap of the 1979 comedy horror film Witches’ Brew and once those credits rolled. I was hooked again. It’s not that the film is great, it is okay, I just find the horror comedy genre nearly irresistible, add to that the potent talent and charisma of Ms. Teri Garr and you have the makings of potent a witches’ brew of movie that is hard not to enjoy despites its flaws (darn should have saved that line for the end).
The film is actually a remake of the 1944 film, Weird Woman starring Lon Chaney Jr. and as the 1962 film Night of the Eagle. All 3 of these films are based on the novel “Conjure Wife” by Fritz Leiber Jr. I have not seen the earlier films nor have I read the books, but I made a note to check the out when I get the chance.
The film is about the wives of three university professors who turn to witchcraft to help advance their husbands careers. Everything is going hunky dory (like things always are when you use the Black Arts) until a position that they all want for their husband becomes available. Then the gloves are off an the movie turns into a free for all.
The film is jokey and slapsticky at times, which distracts from what could be a much better film, but I can see why the younger me liked it so much. The story plays out like a Disney movie with a little bit more of an edge. I would compare it to the much more well know Saturday the 14th in a pinch, although I think the 14th is better, this movie tickles the same places.
After thinking about it for a while, I really like the idea of the film more then I like the slapstick. So I am going to check out the Leiber story this October. I cannot imagine he wrote something that is nearly as silly as this film and I can only imagine this story, told without the constant barrage of jokes, could be genuinely creepy and cautionary.