SLASHER MONTH: The Witch Who Came from the Sea (1976)

We’ve talked about the charmed life of Matt Cimber before. This is perhaps the best movie he made that doesn’t have Pia Zadora in it. It was written by Robert Thom (who also wrote Wild in the Streets), husband of star Millie Perkins, and supposedly based on elements from both of their lives. If that’s true, they led some really wild lives.

Helping this movie look way better than it deserves? Director of photography Dean Cundey.

Perkins, whose debut was Anne Frank in The Diary of Anne Frank, is a revelation in this movie as Molly, a woman for whom television has created a fantasy world that reality can never match. She was assaulted by her father at a young age and the impact of that horrific act ripples across every terrifying decision she makes in this film. She still worships the man, claiming that he died for love while her sister Cathy (Vanessa Brown) detests his memory and will only say that he was lost at sea.

Molly leads a double life, as when she isn’t working at the bar owned by her lover Long John (Lonny Chapman, When Time Ran Out), she’s using her feminine wiles to lure men to their doom, much like the sirens did to sailors. Of course, they didn’t castrate them with straight razors, but let’s not quibble.

Her orbit leads her into a world of football players and aging actors who only work in commercials now. Despite brawling with one of the latter, Billy Batt (Rick Jason of TV’s Combat!) at a party after discussing Boticelli’s The Birth of Venus — and showing a high faluting sensibility that gave this movie its title — she’s able to bed and destroy a series of lovers while getting her body inked by Jack Dracula (Stan Ross) to resemble the tattoo her incestual father once had.

She also falls for handsome Alexander McPeak, who already has his own issues with his strange girlfriend Clarissa Jenks (Roberta Collins, who made everything from Death Race 2000 and Unholy Rollers to The Big Dollhouse, both Hardbodies movies and Eaten Alive better).

There’s no way that Molly can find love or a place to belong in this world. She’s a constant storm destroying and snuffing out lives, unable to find peace or even a place to be. Her story will not end well (not when George ‘Buck’ Flower — who also cast the film and put his own daughter Verkina into the disturbing father/daughter love scene flashback — is on her case).

Every setting in this film feels rotten and everyone in it feels diseased as if the end of the 20th century is a rotting piece of carrion left out at the furthest edge of the surf, unable to wash back into the tide. That said, I want to drink in the bar where most of this is set, as I can imagine the rum was high proof and the conversation was minimal.

While this was a section 2 video nasty, don’t come expecting gore. Do expect to be upset by its unrelenting dread and evil-minded script, however. Also, if the poster looks familiar, it’s a direct ripoff of Frank Frazetta’s cover for Vampirella #11.

You can watch this on Arrow’s American Horror Project. It’s also available as a single blu ray. It’s also streaming on Amazon Prime and Tubi.

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