Tag Archives: Cult Films

The Naked Witch

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The Naked Witch
Starring Jo Maryman | Robert Short | Libby Hall | Directed by Larry Buchanan | 1961 | 59 minutes

After a patience-testing voiceover on the history of witchcraft, with accompanying images of Hieronymus Bosch paintings, the story finally begins with an unnamed college student (Robert Short) arriving in a small Texas town. Immediately launching into another pseudo-historical voiceover narration, the student details the history of the isolated German immigrant community he has come to study. Interested in the folklore of witchcraft and the occult in the town, the student discovers that local residents are unwilling to talk about their superstitious beliefs.

Breaking the communal silence, Kirska (Joy Maryman), the coquettish innkeeper’s daughter, gives the student a one-hundred-year-old book about the Luckenbach Witch, a local widow who was accused of witchcraft by an adulterous husband. Before being staked to death for her alleged crimes, the widow places a curse on all the descendants of her accusers. Drawn to the (remarkably shallow) grave of the witch in the story, the student removes the fatal stake and inadvertently resurrects the slumbering witch (Libby Hall).

Taking time out for the occasional skinny dip in the vegetation-laden local pond, the witch pursues her century-old revenge against the townspeople. Splashing about in the water, hair and make-up continuity errors arguably outnumber the awkward teases of nude flesh. Guilty about his role in the witch’s return, the student pursues her (with the help of the local librarian), to a nearby series of caves. Falling under the witch’s seductive spell, the student must struggle to save her final victim—Kirska!

A low-budget titillation for its time, The Naked Witch possesses a certain charm with its artless framing, sporadic organ score, and poorly synced dialogue. However, today’s viewers may want to save the full 59-minute running time (which seems much longer), and derive a greater and more immediate reward by simply Googling “naked+witch”.

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Bookstores and Libraries in Film

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The Biblioteca Filosofica holds an elusive volume on a mysterious architect and alchemist.

In what film?

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Turkish Star Wars (The Man Who Saved the World)

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Turkish Star Wars (The Man Who Saved the World)
Cüneyt Arkin | Aytekin Akkaya | Directed by Çetin Inanç | 1982 | 91 minutes

A blaster-hot mess of random edits, recycled musical cues from Raiders of the Lost Ark, and intellectual-property-be-damned scenes stolen directly from the original Star WarsThe Man Who Saved the World delivers a trampoline-jump laden delirium of “bad cinema” delights (depending upon your love of cinema cheese, or, if applicable, your level of intoxication).

After a rambling, nonsensical introduction–with repeated use of stock footage–detailing the destruction of Earth, our two Turkish heroes, Murat (Cüneyt Arkin) and Ali (Aytekin Akkaya), engage in a dogfight against a literal backdrop of projected scenes from Star Wars. Seemingly shot down (perhaps by Rebel fighters, Imperial fighters, or maybe even the Millennium Falcon), the pair instead find themselves on a vaguely Tatooine-like planet. An evil overlord called the the Magician takes responsibility for their teleportation, boasting of his immortal powers and detailing his plans to harness the power of their brains to take over the Earth–wait, wasn’t that already destroyed in the prologue?

Beyond a requisite cantina scene featuring some chop-socky action against actors wearing fur suits, the story eventually drifts away from the Star Wars source material. Murat and Ali jump and kick their way through a host of other rubber- and fur-suited enemies, but only after a long training session jumping and kicking boulders, some of which inexplicably explode upon impact. In a pocket of preserved ancient Earth religious artifacts, Murat discovers a tiny, discolored brain and magic sword (cardboard lightsaber, if you prefer) that grant him the power to ultimately defeat the Magician.

Preferring to melt down the sword into a powerful pair of bronze-colored gloves, Murat punches his way through another series of masked and suited enemies, frequently using his newfound powers to tear off their furry arms and use their severed limbs as fatal weapons. The fate of the Earth (will it be destroyed, again?) hangs in the balance as he finally confronts the Magician (who unfortunately never delivers the line, “Murat, I am your father.”), with scenes of the Death Star and random X-wing fighters projected in the background.

In the epilogue, Murat blasts off in the Millennium Falcon, perfectly summing up the nature of the human condition:

“There wouldn’t be humans without the World, and a World without humans…because humanity is the most important thing in the Universe.”

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Seizure!

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Seizure!
1973 | 91 minutes
Starring Jonathan Frid, Martine Beswick, Joe Sirola, Christina Pickles, Anne Meacham, Mary Woronov, Henry Judd Baker, Herve Villechaize, Roger De Koven
Directed by Oliver Stone

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Horror writer Edmund Blackstone (Jonathan Frid) suffers from recurring nightmares while struggling to finish the ending of his current book. In his dream, friends and family are terrorized during a weekend retreat—a retreat now underway, with guests already beginning to arrive. The invited guests, and future victims, include the obnoxious loud mouth Charlie Hughes (Joe Sirola), his wife Mikki (Mary Woronov), and her ne’er-do-well lover (Troy Donahue).

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The character of Charlie has a memorable introduction as he attempts to gas up his car at a local filling station on the way to Edmunds’ country house. He humorously fails at bullying the attendant with his own inflated sense of self-importance. “Mr. Hughes, SCREW YOU!”

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As a harbinger to the events of the upcoming weekend, Edmund confesses to his young son of being scared of “something inside” him—but a greater terror manifests itself in the form of a hairless, orange-skinned Charlie cavorting in his swimming trunks.

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After dinner that evening, a bizarre trio of intruders forcibly breaks into the house, confronting the group of assembled guests. Edmund somehow recognizes them–the Queen of Evil (Martine Beswick), the Spider (Herve Villechaize), and Jackal the Executioner (Henry Judd Baker)—as products of his own imagination. The Queen announces that only one member of the party will survive until morning, launching an evening of murderous games with the rapidly diminishing houseguests pitted against each other for survival.

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Although not reaching the delirious pop-culture heights of the epic battle between Kirk and Gorn on the Arena episode of Star Trek, the staged knife fight between Edmund and Mikki—with Jonathan Frid and Mary Woronov eventually rolling around on the floor—easily provides the highpoint of the sadistic contests. After spurning the amorous advances of the Queen, Edmund returns to his wife, only to be rejected by her. She seems to realize Edmund’s role in the mayhem, and begs him to save their son. Edmund also pauses for a philosophical discussion of his dreams with professorial houseguest Serge (Roger De Koven), underscoring the fact that their situation is not an ordinary home invasion.

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Seizure! stalls its potential for exploitation to ramble philosophically on the nature of dreams and reality, before ultimately heading to a completely expected conclusion. Part exploitation, part philosophical meditation on art and life, and part Twilight Zone episode, the film doesn’t succeed in any of its individual elements. Seeming to understand his role in bloating the story with unwanted psychological underpinnings, Edmund’s sounding board Serge acceptingly walks off to his beheading by the Jackal—taking his punishment for the film’s artistic pretensions.

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