Wednesday, October 12, 2022

October Horror Movie Challenge: Witchcraft (1964)

Witchcraft (1964)
Not expecting much from this one, but it was such a late turn for Lon Chaney Jr. I just had to. Glad I did, I was treated to some nice British Folk Horror. 

The movie deals with the centuries-old rivalry between two British families, the Laniers and the Whitlocks.  The Laniers wanted the Whitlock's land so in the 17th century they accused Vanessa Whitlock (Yvette Rees) of witchcraft.

Fast forward to the 1960s Amy Whitlock (Diane Clare) and Todd Lanier (David Weston) fall in love. Much to the chagrin of Amy's stern (and oddly American) uncle Morgan Whitlock (Lon Chaney Jr.).

The Lanier's are developing parts of their land (modernizing) and accidentally stray onto what is left of the Whitlock's land. In the process uncovering the grave of Vanessa Whitlock.  Later that night Vanessa rises from the grave to exact her revenge! She really was a witch!

It drags a little but turns out the Whitlocks have been pagans since, well, forever and they and some of the locals participate in their rituals to seek revenge against the Laniers.

This all ends in a ritual to bring Vanessa back to true life, but instead the all get trapped in the mausoleum as it, the Whitlock estate, and all the Whitlocks (yes including poor Amy) die in the fire. 

Honestly, it was a great movie and had to be pretty scary for 1964. The practical special effects were quite good. Sure they can't compare to the one we have now 60 years later, but they were still great for the time. The actors all were great in their roles and everything had a great Folk Horror feel about it. The tale itself could be adapted to today without missing a beat really.

If there was any piece of this I felt it was off it was Lon Chaney Jr., he seemed so oddly mis-cast for this. He is just is hard to believe his character would have ever not fought the Laniers more. I can't say it was because of lack of work before or after (aka a pity casting that happens to so many older horror icons) because Chaney worked solidly with a movie coming out every year from 1931 to 1971. Sure a year might be skipped, but for many years he had multiple movies in a single year. Plus he was, by all accounts, a great guy and easy to work with.

Regardless, this was a fun little movie and a treat.


I have spent a lot of time this month (and the summer) talking about witches and how they will all fit into my War of the Witch Queens.  In doing all of this I have also been thinking of an adventure that I am currently calling "Codađť„Ś." The idea here is that one of the Witch Queens (or just witches) defeated by the PCs will come back to challenge the PCs of the modern era using NIGHT SHIFT.  This works best if the Players are all the same.

The premise is simple. One of the witches from back then is back and wants to claim her vengeance.  My witch would come back as something akin to a Zugarramurdi Bruja, and be the dark reflection of my Dark Druid adventure.  Who the witch will be is unknown right now. I want to choose the one the players have the most interaction. If she can be a witch from our world, all the better.

October Horror Movie Challenge 2022
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October Horror Movie Challenge 2022

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