It’s Halloween weekend, & I heartily agree with this guy:
You could just tune in to TCM this evening for a fine line-up of Hammer Frankensteins: Curse of, & Revenge of, Created Woman & Must Be Destroyed. But in honor both of the holiday & of Christine O’Donnell, candidate for U.S. Senate next Tuesday in Delaware, I would direct you to 1972’s Season of the Witch, one of George A. Romero’s lesser-known efforts.
It stars the impressive Jan White as Joan Mitchell, a bored, horny upscale-suburban housewife. Neglected by her big dull dope of a husband, Joan drifts, somehow quite plausibly, both into an inappropriate relationship with her daughter’s casual boyfriend (Ray Laine), a creepy academic, & also into witchcraft. Romero doesn’t clarify whether the terrors which ensue are psychological, supernatural or a bit of both. The focus is as much on then-trendy bourgeois alienation as on fright; it’s almost like a horror picture that John Cassavetes might have made, except with community-theatre actors.
Romero’s best film, apart from his classic 1968 debut Night of the Living Dead, is probably Martin, his harrowing take on vampirism from 1977. Season isn’t quite on that level, but it’s still pretty good. It certainly, you should pardon the expression, casts a spell—an eerie, upsetting atmosphere of unwholesome eroticism which reaches its peak when poor Joan, unable to escape the sound of her daughter having sex in the next room, writhes around on her bed, on the verge of engaging in that activity of which Candidate O’Donnell so disapproves.
The Anchor Bay DVD edition of Season of the Witch also includes a bonus movie, Romero’s even-more-obscure 1971 drama There’s Always Vanilla, about an Army vet’s wistful love affair with a model. Romero has reportedly called this arty effort his worst movie, but he’s quite wrong—just off the top of my head, I’d call it better than Land of the Dead or Diary of the Dead. It’s an amusing little artifact.
RIP to James MacArthur, aka “Danno” from Hawaii 5-0, passed on at 72.