The Witch Who Came From The Sea (1976) (Video Nasty review #5)

Director: Matt Cimber

Starring: Millie Perkins, Lonny Chapman, Vanessa Brown

“If only there was a way of making a fortune babysitting you, sister Molly, could be a babysitting millionaire. Don’t tell me the kids don’t like you better than they like me, their own hardworking mother. Don’t say that or I’d say seaweed if you said that.” (Cathy, The Witch Who Came From The Sea)

Let’s face it, most of the video nasties are light on plot. With gore, nudity and shock value very much the key components of your standard nasty, anyone out metaphor-hunting will come back with an empty net. Except for that one I just did. That’s my gift to you.

The Witch Who Came From The Sea, however, actually has a bit of depth to it and bravely explores a taboo that films rarely touch – the mental trauma suffered by adults who suffered child abuse when they were younger. Given the subject matter and its entry in the notorious video nasty it’s easy to believe this is likely to be a pretty repulsive film, but in actuality it’s handled with a surprising degree of tact.

"Don't worry, I'm not really a witch. I do cut dicks off, though"

Molly (Millie Perkins, fresh from her critically acclaimed role as Anne Frank) is a single woman who dotes on her two nephews. She’s their best friend and spends most of her time hanging out with them, telling them stories about the ocean and their granddad, who she claims was lost at sea. In reality, he actually sexually abused Molly when she was a little girl, and she’s struggling to come to terms with it.

Molly has an interesting way to vent her frustrations surrounding her past. She’s developed a habit of seducing men considered heroes – sports stars, TV personalities – then having sex with them before cutting off their manhood and killing them. As you do.

It was the most controversial episode in the history of Gladiators

These scenes (along with the child abuse plot) are clearly the reason The Witch Who Came From The Sea gained its video nasty status, but in reality they’re unlikely to offend anyone in this day and age. All the dodgy stuff happens off-camera and the resulting blood is so fake it looks more like red wine.

It’s not a visually shocking film, then, but it still has a bit of punch during Molly’s disturbing flashbacks of her and her father. While these are thankfully handled fairly tactfully, they still make for uncomfortable viewing. In fact, the entire film has you feeling awkward throughout thanks to its odd presentation. Some of the killings are presented as dreams (even though they happened), complete with fuzzy picture and deliberately slowed-down speech. The best way of describing it would be that it feels like a normal film on some sort of hallucinogenic drug.

The midwives looked on in shock as Barbara gave birth to a fully-grown man

By far the star of the show is Millie Perkins as Molly. A first her performance seems a little off and wooden but as the plot develops you begin to understand why that is and as her mind deteriorates during the last 20 minutes it makes for compelling stuff.

The Witch Who Came From The Sea is a surprisingly accomplished little film, albeit one that’s a bit experimental and will have you scratching your head at times. While it’s not exactly a classic you should all be rushing out to see, it’s certainly one of the more watchable (and tamest) video nasties and one you should still check out if you get the opportunity.

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