As if answering the all-too-common horror trend of depraved violence against hot women, The Witch who Came from the Sea inverts the trend, featuring a female serial killer lusting after and ultimately dispatching her male suitors in various bloody ways. A further note of interest is that the lady in question rose to stardom as the title character in The Diary of Anne Frank back in '59. Yep, Millie Perkins' Molly still has a sweet child-like innocence to her look, which makes her all the more terrifying as she does the deeds that cover her in blood. Even better, this "Girl Next Door", though merely "cute" usually looks pretty fantastic topless, which she is pretty commonly in this slasher flick. How else might she seduce famous football players and actors?
We find out, folks, and we're not ashamed of the answer.
Millie is a waitress in a dive bar in a run-down part of Santa Monica. When she's not hoisting drinks she's babysitting Todd and Tripoli (Jean Pierre Camps and Mark Livingston) the two sons of her homebody sister Cathy (Vanessa Brown). When she's not doing that she's looking cross-eyed at the football players on Muscle Beach (there are more ass, crotch and chest close ups in this flick than in the opening scenes of Batman & Robin... almost). Lust leads to her picturing their deaths in various, creative ways. Picturing their deaths leads to Molly causing their deaths in various, creative ways.
This might come as some surprise to her boss and erstwhile lover Long John (Lonny Chapman) who is pretty thrilled to be getting a lady as cute as Molly on his Posturepedic! Naturally, it might come as an even bigger surprise to Cathy whose prudery could make Queen Elizabeth I say "Lighten up, chick!" In truth, it might come as a surprise to Molly herself, whose relationship with reality is somewhat strained. She's driven by memories of her saintly Sea Captain father (John F. Goff), who has long since passed away. Cathy, however, remembers him a little bit differently.
There is a certain class to The Witch who Came from the Sea. Director Matt Climber and writer (and Millie's husband) Robert Thorn work hard on exceeding their budget with a relatively unique story and an interesting visual style, coupled with a good slice of the surreal and an entertaining twist on the genre. Molly brings the audience inside her insanity for the occasional peek that many of us would rather not have. That said, all of the tricks and gimmicks here feel dated and firmly planted back in 1976.
That's not to say that it's a waste of time, however. Millie Perkins remains interesting throughout the film in more ways than just her off mixture of Librarian and Sex Kitten look. Further, it's not an easy movie to predict. This is both a good and a bad thing. The unpredictability of The Witch who Came from the Sea keeps the film worth watching, but much of this is due to the fact that Thorn and Climber are all over the map. Do we expect much of what happens between Millie and, say, Sam "The Electric Man" Waters (Gene Rutherford), Alexander McPeak (Stafford Morgan) or Jack Dracula (Stan Ross)? That would be a No. What ever you may be thinking now, you're probably not right. The good in this is that because the film offers no real mystery about the killer (believe it or not, I've offered no spoilers here) the unpredictable nature of the story provides an air of suspense that the first half of the film lacks.
Still, its low budget and uneven themes take away from the uniqueness, sexiness and strangeness of The Witch who Came from the Sea. Those used to a firmly 1970s-oriented horror flick with a score (by Herschel Burke Gilbert) firmly planted in the 1970s and a series of 1970s oriented themes that set it nicely on the Video Nasty List might find much to love in this film. Movie Snobs might be completely turned off. With some very nice nudity (not only from Perkins), an interesting (if uneven) story and some pretty good directing and cinematography (by Dean Cundey), even they might be won over. Give it a shot... I'm giving it Two and One half Stars out of Five. I like it... I'm tripped out by it... I'm turned on by it... I'm grateful for a little something different. But make no mistake, even with its less explicit nature (as compared to many on the list) The Witch who Came from the Sea is most assuredly "nasty". Who am I to judge obscenity? Just don't presume to watch this one with the kids in the room. Whew! Well, folks, if you'll excuse me, I need to run to the tattoo parlor. That "Little Mermaid" dermagraphic really did it for me. I'm thinking it might look better on her than me, though. Humph!
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