If you go to a town named Lilith to live, you should not be surprised that the town is run by devil worshippers. If Orson Welles comes to you in a robe and his name is Mr. Cato, you should not be shocked to learn that he wants to use you to raise his son from the grave. What is surprising is that for a movie promising rituals and raising the dead, Necromancy isn’t all that exciting.
Directed by Bert I. Gordon (War of the Colossal Beast, Picture Mommy Dead), the master of rear projection, this film is all about Lori Brandon (Pamela Franklin, The Legend of Hell House, And Soon the Darkness), a woman who has recently lost a child. She moves with her husband, Richard (Michael Ontkean, Sheriff Harry S. Truman from Twin Peaks) to the aforementioned town of Lilith to start over again.
On the way there, they get in an accident and kill a woman, but it’s totally glossed over because this is 1972. Life was cheap. At least Lori gets a baby doll out of this accident.
There used to be a sign in my hometown that said, “What Ellwood City makes, makes Ellwood City.” The town of Lilith makes one thing: the world’s finest occult paraphernalia. There’s one great scene here with Lori sees her image inside a tarot card, a really evocative scene thrown away in a film that is otherwise less than memorable.
If you’ve seen Rosemary’s Baby, you know exactly how this is all gonna turn out. If you are the star of a 1970’s horror movie — especially if you are Donald Sutherland — expect to die. Horribly.
Much like the devil, Necromancy goes by many names, such as The Witching, A Life for a Life, Horror-Attack, Rosemary’s Disciples and The Toy Factory. When Paragon Video re-released it on VHS in 1982, they chopped out tons of story and dialogue to insert scenes of nude witches like Brinke Stevens and even more Satanic rituals.
As much as I love Orson Welles — we’ll have a whole month of his films at some point, I’m certain — this is not his finest hour. He has some fine speeches, but the material is Mrs. Paul’s level. Beneath him.