Banned during the “video nasty” purge of the 1980s which saw many low budget horror films denied a rating and thus an audience “The Witch Who Came From the Sea” is a cult film that, if released now, would seem tame in comparison with the likes of the torture porn of “Hostel” or the arthouse shocks of “Antichrist” but which must have seemed utterly bizarre and disgusting on its release.
The story concerns Molly who is haunted by visions and memories of her fathers sexual abuse. Now in her adulthood Molly embarks on a murder spree which sees her marry sex and torture to bring suffering and death to her victims. The tagline “Molly really knows how to cut men down to size” is an accurate description of the end that awaits each of the men that Molly murders using, first, her feminine wiles to snare the men and then a razor to finish them.
At first glance this looks like standard horror/exploitation fare but it would be wrong to dismiss this as just an early example of what has now become the excessive torture-porn genre. In truth “The Witch Who Came From the Sea” is a feminist film with Molly exacting revenge on men for their subjugation and abuse of women. It is no accident that she removes the penis from her victims, this emasculation is a deliberate message. Molly is a post-feminist heroine and despite her victimhood she ultimately triumphs over a patriarchal society by ending her own life before she can be arrested. Interestingly each of her victims come from male dominated areas; television and sports which are also areas where women are relegated to supporting roles.
Millie Perkins (Molly) gives a convincing performance as the damaged and dangerous central character and director Matt Climber delivers plenty of shocks and blood alongside the political message of writer Robert Thoms script. What surprised me most about “The Witch…” was that I started to watch expecting a sleazy, exploitative movie because of its reputation as a video “nasty” but what I got was a sexual politics tract; not many films deliver so completely the opposite of what you expect.