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News Article

Eight of Horror's Most Bewitching Women

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Ray Austin's 1972 British horror exploitation film Virgin Witch gets a Blu-ray release today from Redemption. The story follows two sisters who head to a country manor for a fashion photo shoot and end up recruited by a coven of witches — led by a lascivious lesbian and a pervy doctor. The film's home entertainment release inspired us to look back on several of horror cinema's sexiest witches that hail from the same era. The '60s and '70s occult craze created a coven of memorably seductive sorceresses, which you can become acquainted with past the break. Leave us your picks below.

Daughters of Satan

Tom Selleck's pants are so tight his head might explode and Barra Grant can't act her way out of a paper bag in Daughters of Satan. The 1972 wannabe softcore tale about an art appraiser and his doe-eyed wife in the Philippines — who get wrapped up in the historical mystery surrounding a strange painting, in which the figures bear an uncanny resemblance to the story's lead players — is a little too vanilla to be a true exploitation flick, but it has a few bewitching (naked) moments. Tani Guthrie's witch with a whip can't woo Selleck's skintight clothing from him, but her brusque seduction techniques are fun to watch.

Baba Yaga

Adapted from Guido Crepax' erotic comic (fumetti, as the Italians would say) series Valentina comes Corrado Farina's 1973 fever dream, Baba Yaga. Clearly influenced by the gialli, the lesbian Eurotrash cult flick stars Carroll Baker (Baby Doll) as a ghostly witch who controls a free-spirited photographer with sapphic mind powers, a hexed camera, an unnerving doll decked out in a sadomasochistic body harness, and surreal Nazi-era flashbacks. George Eastman also appears for that added touch of smarmy boyfriend sleaze. Baker's Baba Yaga — named after a witch-like figure that originates from Slavic folklore — is an over the top character who suckles garter belts like candy and commands her erotic slaves from a decadent, but crumbling, mansion.

Girl Slaves of Morgana Le Fay

Based on the Arthurian legend of a powerful witch, the 1971 cult film Girl Slaves of Morgana Le Fay stars Dominique Delpierre as the titular enchantress who captures lost women in the woods surrounding her castle and lures them into lifelong slavery — rewarding their sensual service with everlasting life and beauty. If they refuse, she condemns them to a miserable existence in her dungeon where they will grow old and die. The enigmatic, powerful witch and her erotic somnambulists are mesmerizing.

Black Sunday

Mario Bava's richly atmospheric 1960 film Black Sunday features horror icon Barbara Steele in a dual role that helped catapult her — and the director — to stardom. She plays a persecuted witch and a princess in the Italian gothic masterpiece and helped imbue Bava's incredible visuals with an otherworldly quality thanks to her stunning beauty — features that she easily twisted into something strange and terrifying at a moment's notice — and talented abilities. Bava's original cut of the film was apparently deemed too disturbing and erotic for viewers, but the finished product still contains an aura of understated sexuality that is darkly entrancing.

Viy

While Mario Bava's adaptation of Nikolai Gogol's 1865 horror story Viy was an homage to gothic chillers from the 1930s, the 1967 Russian import of the same name was inspired by the source material's folk tale roots. Natalya Varley is the witchy woman at the center of the story, which combines fairy tale surreality with a few animated Ray Harryhausen-type moments and what could easily be a bit of jiangshi (Chinese hopping vampires). Varley's witch Pannochka is beautiful, but she's also a badass, because she can resurrect the dead and surf through the air on her own coffin. In other words, you need to see this movie.

La Strega in Amore (AKA The Witch)

With the beautiful Rosanna Schiaffino starring in your film as a witch, little other magic is needed for a successful picture. The spellbinding actress (Aura, in the film) seduces a historian (Richard Johnson) who has ventured to a castle library to translate an ancient book. While there, supernatural forces start to take over, and he becomes bewilderingly entranced by Aura, but suffers the psychological consequences of her haggish alter ego. The moody gem has that camp-tastic 1960's charm, but all is forgiven once Schiaffino performs a writhing, moaning dance number.

The Wicker Man

Robin Hardy's The Wicker Man (let's not talk about that other movie) never uses the word "witches" to describe its disturbing Neopagan cult, but there's enough earthy mojo happening amongst the group that we feel safe counting Britt Ekland as a modern-day sorceress. She certainly bewitches Sergeant Neil Howie with her siren song and naked dancing, which undoubtedly wore out a few rewind buttons when the movie eventually made its way to people's living rooms.

Night of Dark Shadows

Lara Parker's character Angelique from the gothic soap opera series Dark Shadows makes a ghostly, but memorable, appearance in Night of Dark Shadows — one of the feature film versions of the small screen production. Her character's history is a long and torrid one, but the seductress' relationship with Charles Collins (her brother-in-law) is the focus of the 1971 film — the events of which haunt the Collinwood estate's new resident, artist Quentin Collins. Angelique and Charles' love affair during the early 19th century led to her being hanged and accused of witchcraft, and her spirit is relentless — but beguiling.

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