Directed by Ray Austin
Starring Ann Michelle, Vicki Michelle, Keith Buckley, Patricia Haines, James Chase
Kino Lorber (Blu-Ray & DVD) (US RA/R1 HD/NTSC), Odeon (UK R2 PAL), Redemption, Image (US R1 NTSC) / WS (1.66:1)(16:9)
A later offering from British horror mini-studio Tigon (who also brought you Witchfinder General and Blood on Satan's Claw), this slice of occult cheesecake feels more like an early Pete Walker film laced with Hammer-style lesbianism as it chronicles the supernatural misadventures of aspiring model Christine (House of Whipcord's Ann Michelle), who gets her big break by posing topless for a predatory lesbian talent agent named Sybil (Haines). Her first real assignment sends her out into the country with her sister, Betty (played by Ann's real-life actress sister, Vicki, later a regular on the long-running UK series 'Allo 'Allo!), and they stay at a house located near "The Witches Ring." Not surprisingly, everyone in the vicinity turns out to be a witch, which means they all take their clothes off at night, dance around a bonfire, and plot how to kill any handy virgins. Meanwhile Christine turns out to be quite the fledgling sorceress herself, and a boobs-out battle for coven control ensues.
If ever a film exemplified '70s horror sexploitation, this is it. Director Ray Austin mainly stuck to TV apart from this film, and that's not surprising as he mainly plants the camera down and tries to capture as much nudity and colorful ooga-booga satanic romping as possible. Both of the Michelle sisters are fantasies ripped straight out of a men's magazine, and the soft-focus lesbian interludes leave no doubt about where the film's interest really lie. (It's definitely not trying to scare anyone!) For some reason this was originally rejected by the BBFC and subjected to significant cuts to the sex scenes (which have a few frontal flashes that might have been a bit much for '72), but all home video versions have been not surprisingly been left intact.
The film elements for this one have also been kept in good shape over the years, as it's appeared from both Image and Redemption on DVD in the US and then again from Redemption and Odeon in the UK. They all have that gaudy, super-saturated look common to '70s sexploitation with both flesh tones and loud '70s fashions popping right off the screen, but that's really accentuated to a new extreme on the Kino Lorber Blu-Ray release under the Redemption banner. (A DVD edition also appeared at the same time, but really, why would you settle for anything less than 1080p for Virgin Witch?) The 1.66:1 framing is dead on, and while there are a few scuffs and scratches here and there, it's generally in nice shape. This isn't the most razor-sharp film in the world (again, common to the time period), but the HD transfer replicates the correct texture of the film about as well as possible.
As for extras, we'll still have to get by without a commentary by either of the Michelle sisters. (Seriously, someone should do a documentary on them someday.) Instead for extras you get the original trailer, a gallery of production stills and poster art, and bonus trailers for the first round of Jean Rollin titles from Kino/Redemption. It's also worth mentioning that the cover artwork looks great and adapts well to the striking menu design.
Reviewed on June 27, 2012.