VIDEO NASTIES – The Witch Who Came from the Sea (1976)


Next up in my wildly popular Video Nasties series is The Witch Who Came from the Sea. Technically, it’s not one of the core video nasties that were prosecuted as brain poison (or whatever), but it was one of the over 70 films brought before a committee committed (hmm, is that why they call them that?) to censoring supposedly obscene films so they wouldn’t turn Britain’s youths into rapists, murderers, and generally bad people. I knew nothing about the film (other than its inclusion in that infamous censorship campaign) before it arrived in the mail. I thought it might be about some witch. Maybe a sea-based witch. Maybe you think so too. (the presumably unlicensed re-touched and re-purposed Frank Frazetta artwork would certainly suggest something along those lines) Well, let’s see if we were right, shall we?

Molly is a doting aunt. She regales her nephews with stories of her late father’s magnificence. He was a great man who was lost at sea during one of his adventures (or was he?). Her sister doesn’t agree with her sentiments though. She struggles to raise the boys on her own and still suffers pain from where their father kicked her. Molly idolizes men in general and won’t hear a word of her sister’s denigration. In the sexually open climate of the 70s, Molly easily lands some hunky one night stands when she’s not staying with her boss/pseudo-boyfriend. Unfortunately, the beefcake encounters trigger deeply repressed memories of her father raping and sexually abusing her as a very young girl. The vengeance she would subconsciously like to exact upon her long-dead father is redirected to her sex partners in gruesome ways. 

The Witch Who Came from the Sea is a lackluster psychotic woman story. Our protagonist is severely psychologically scarred and her repressed emotional trauma is bubbling up in murderous ways. The narrative is disjointed to say the least. There are confusing jumps from reality to fantasy to flashback and back. The audience is not privy to how Molly managed to land two famous hunks that are seemingly unacquainted and talk them into a threesome, skipping over what would have surely been an interesting plot contrivance. Instead, we’re expected to accept it at face value. The end product is amateurish despite the “it’s easy to get men into bed” brush-off Molly offers later in the film. One could almost look at this film as a damning of the predatory inclinations of men and the broader issues of oppression of women if it weren’t for the film’s emphasis on the crazy woman trope. Molly even gets some crazy girlfriend competition in the form of a jilted lover shooting up a neighborhood. No. The men still have the power in this story despite Molly’s unpredictable violence and hand breaking. (there’s a hand breaking scene) Molly somehow possesses preternatural strength that is never explained. Is it because she’s crazy? Is it because she’s an avenging spirit? There are no other fantastical elements to the brutal and heartbreaking story of a woman driven mad by years of abuse. So, it’s hard to guess why she’d be able to overpower a muscle-bound guy. We can chalk it up to sloppy storytelling. 

The Final Cut
: The Witch Who Came from the Sea is an uninspired crazy woman/rape-revenge exploitation film with a loose narrative and weak social message. Video Nasty completists could probably justify skipping this one since it was never prosecuted. 

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