- 1080p/AVC MPEG-4
- English 2.0 LPCM
- Redemption Trailers: The Cinema of Jean Rollin
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Virgin Witch: Remastered Edition (Blu-ray)
Redemption / 1971 / 89 Minutes / Rated R
Street Date: March 13, 2012
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Reviewed by Luke Hickman
Thursday, March 29, 2012
Congratulate me, folks – I just watched my very first erotica film! When I signed up to review 'There Be Dragons,' I was under the assumption that I was going to watch a movie about battling dragons. Based on the creation of Opus Dei, I was way off. I made the same mistake here, presuming that 'Virgin Witch' would lean more towards "witch" than "virgin." Boy, was I surprised when it turned out to be the other way around. The opening credits to 'Virgin Witch' cleared up that whole misconception for me. The title cards are placed in front of still images of various shots of topless women from throughout the film. In this instant, I was worried that I was about to see something completely explicit, but being a 41-year-old film with an R rating, it was much tamer than I feared, featuring lots of breasts and only a couple below-the-belt shots and mild sex scenes. Phew!
Made in 1971, this English film follows Christine, a beautiful and young aspiring model who just so happens to be a virgin. The ball gets rolling when Christine lowers her morals in order to obtain a job and applies at a nude photography studio. There, she strips down and gets sized up by the company's strong female owner Sybil. Little does she know that Sybil is the high priestess of a witch-based cult who only hires young virgins in order to recruit them for the cult. For Christine's first job, she's being taken to a secluded mansion that the cult calls home. For no explained reason, Sybil allows Christine to bring along her sister Betty for the weekend – who also just-so-happens to be a virgin. At the end of the weekend, Betty's pent-up boyfriend is going to drive out to the countryside in his American muscle car and bring the girls back to the city.
The plot to 'Virgin Witch' is very simple, but the movie is polluted with several lame subplots that only make way for more steamy nudity. First, while posing for her first shoot, Christine begins to tempt the nerdy photographer with her bare body. The two start fooling around on the forest floor with only one outcome in sight, which goes against Christine's position of abstinence. Then Betty starts to get freaked out by the odd folks running around the farm and passes out while trying to flee from some. When she wakes, the warlock doctor who leads the cult talks her into taking a nice warm bath, after which we see him peeping on her while bathing. Of course, being a nudie movie with only one objective, who really cares? Right?
Christine and Betty learn about the witchy cult early on in the movie and, surprisingly, neither really care about it. It's explained as a form of religion instead of devil worship, so Betty follows the "to each his own" mentality. Christine is intrigued by it all, especially the powers that come with it, so she's hoping that she will be inducted into the group. Her wish comes true, and once transformed into a witch (which is achieved by holding two candles and letting a warlock take her virginity while the rest of the cult does psychedelic nude dances all around her) Christine wants more power – she sets her sights on dethroning the high priestess and filling the vacant slot. Outside complications include Betty's boyfriend getting in the way and Betty being turned into a witch.
When 'Virgin Witch' was made, this type of content was seen as very explicit. Compared to all of the content that R rated movies get away with these days (the vulgar and raunchy content that appears without any complaints on premium cable channels), 'Virgin Witch' is nothing. 89 minutes of topless woman is now considered tame. As such, I assume that anyone who enjoys modern nudie movies will not be satisfied with what 'Virgin Witch' has to offer.
The Blu-ray: Vital Disc Stats
Kino Lorber has given 'Virgin Witch' a Blu-ray release under the "Redemption" banner. The movie has been placed on a BD-25 in a standard blue keepcase. The cover artwork is like that of a classic '70s sex-ploitation film, the back resembles any other Kino Lorber release with the exception of a highly racy near-nude still from the film. The main menu features an animated version of the cover art set to music. The only things that play before the main menu are an FBI warning and a Redemption vanity reel – neither of which can be bypassed.
The Blu-ray specs as listed on the back of the case point out that the new 1080p/AVC MPEG-4 transfer of the film was "mastered in HD from the 35mm negative." Mind you, the film was not re-mastered. What you're getting here is a quick, dirty and damaged transfer that doesn't feature a single ounce of anything worthy of HD.
The clearest parts of this transfer are the damaged scars of the negative. Every single speck, hair, scratch and jutter is noticeable. Vertical scratches run rampant. Cigarette burns are huge and irritating. The only time that these problems are lessened is when the movie takes us to bright settings. The bright whites engulf all of the flaws.
Details are non-existent in 'Virgin Witch.' Lines are not defined; instead, they're blurred between objects. The very tiny amount of details that can be seen are swallowed within shadows. For example, there's a mask mounted to wall in a dark room – only the wall can never be seen. The mask appears to be floating in the middle of a black void. Colors are typically muted with the exception of reds. All reds are more vibrant than real life, occasionally delving into over-saturated territory. In some shots, colors tend to flicker and waver in saturation.
Surprisingly, bands, digital noise, aliasing and artifacts aren't issues. Since no clean-up whatsoever was done for the transfer, edge enhancement and DNR also aren't applied.
The only audio option presented is an English 2.0 LPCM track that leaves all sounds – effects, dialog and music – completely flat and stagnant.
There's a major lack of bass all around, and the music and effects sound like they're confined to small spaces, as if they were recorded in the tiniest of rooms. As lackluster as they may be, it's the dialog that ruins the audio track.
First off, the vocal levels are constantly changing. In one scene it's loud, in the next it's too quiet to understand. This inconsistency even happens in the middle of some scenes. During the first 20 minutes of the film, about 75 percent of the dialog is inaudible. Only making matters worse is the fact that there are no subtitles to lend a helping hand. A good portion of the dialog carries the unnatural sound of post-sync ADR. The on-set audio isn't any better, frequently sounding distorted or muffled. Any locations that may cause vocal echoes bring that characteristic along with it. Many times, the vocals carry a hissing tinny sound like that of an MP3 with terrible compression.
Just like the video, no effort was put into making the audio more appealing.
- Trailer (HD, 2 min.)
- Gallery - Most of the 16 photos included are on set shots of nude actors and actresses. Be warned, there's some graphic content here that isn't shown in the movie – full frontal male nudity.
- Redemption Trailers: The Cinema of Jean Rollin (HD, 17 min.) - Yikes! Included are five mostly-long trailers for other nudie genre flicks from the same era: 'The Nude Vampire' (4 min.), 'The Shiver of the Vampires' (4 min.), 'The Iron Rose' (4 min.), 'Lips of Blood' (2 min.) and 'Fascination' (3 min.). Although no red band warning plays beforehand, know that these 17 minutes are loaded with full frontal nudity, sex and gore.
There are no HD bonus features.
No easter eggs reported for 'Virgin Witch: Remastered Edition' yet. Found an egg? Please use our tips form to let us know, and we'll credit you with the find.
There are two audiences that I could see wanting to own 'Virgin Witch' – those who enjoy eye-fulls of '70s breasts and anyone who can say that 'Virgin Witch' was the first nudie movie they ever saw. Aside from those small audiences, I can't see anyone deeming this a Blu-ray worthy of owning. The only thing worse than the pointless and gratuitous story is the quality of the transfer. Neither the video nor the audio were cleaned up for the Blu-ray. Every flaw that existed on the 41-year-old negative exists on the Blu-ray in the exact same manner. Luckily, there are very few (not-so) special features to trudge through, so it makes 'Virgin Witch' a breezy Blu-ray to review. In fact, there are more features dedicated to other films by another filmmaker than there are for 'Virgin Witch' and its filmmakers. Unless you fall into the two previously mentioned categories, this is a title to quickly forget about and strike from your mind.
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