We’re supposed to connect dots that have since been shown to be tentative at best. It feels like an irresponsible stab at cheap entertainment.
Director Matt Cimber
Screenplay Robert Thom
Starring Millie Perkins, Lonny Chapman, Vanessa Brown, Peggy Feury, Rick Jason, George Buck Flower, Roberta Collins
The story behind The Witch Who Came From the Sea is one of trauma that creates a murderer. Molly (Perkins) is a waitress at a seaside bar who has substance abuse problems. She dotes on her nephews and tells fantastic stories about their grandfather. The boys’ mother (Brown) is much more somber about hers and Molly’s father.
That Molly fantasizes about men in pain should be clue enough for what is to follow, they spell it out more clearly. She has a habit of blacking out, sleeping with men and then killing / castrating them.
The flashbacks drip with clues of abuse. It’s clear early on what’s going on and why, but Thom and Cimber take their time letting us know. The imagery is intended to give relevance to Molly’s strange behavior. It doesn’t do anything to explain the behavior of those around her.
Perkins approximates Molly as something of an arrested adolescent. She is wrapped up in the idea of the heroes she sees on television. She shares her fantasies with whoever’s listening. They just let her rave on, even when she speaks openly about wanting to have sex with them.
Cimber is not great at setting mood or tension. And it helps little that his actors seem too distracted in swinger talk to feel anything about the person who is breaking down in front of them. Her sister Cathy cares, but she is even more concerned about other things, like who is going to take care of her boys.
Overall the film feels a mess. There are no sympathetic characters, even if Perkins’ lead is intended to be somewhat heroic in a male dominated world. There is no evidence, other than some crude talk, that anyone has it particularly rough.
It’s hard to watch much of the film. The story meanders ineffectively and the soundtrack is like a dare to viewers to keep watching through such horrible clicking. There is a point to it all, of course. We’re supposed to sympathize with something, even though the person they intend it for is as annoying as she is deadly.
This film was a project for Perkins and her screenwriter husband Thom during a time which the latter was battling for his life. Intended as star vehicle, it feels like a half-finished stab at pop-psychology. We’re supposed to connect dots that have since been shown to be tentative at best. It feels like an irresponsible stab at cheap entertainment.
(*1/2 out of *****)