The Witch Who Came From The Sea (1976)


Nastiness Rating:

Directed by: Matt Cimber
Written by: Robert Thom

When I took on this project a few years ago, I knew that I was going to be seeing some awful, awful movies. Unfortunately, I remain not disappointed.

The Witch Who Came From The Sea is one of those movies that makes you say, “What the fuck did I just watch?!” It’s an incredibly weird movie…which is why it pretty consistently plays Weird Wednesday at the Alamo Drafthouse here in Austin. This is the second time that I know of, but the first time that I was able to make it.

First off, let’s get this out of the way: There is no witch. Nothing comes from the sea. The title is someone’s (wrong) description of Venus on the half-shell.

The story concerns a young woman named Molly (one time Anne Frank and former Mrs. Dean Stockwell, Millie Perkins) who is hopelessly devoted to her two nephews. She’s also hopelessly devoted to her late father (John Goff) who she tells everyone was perfect in every way. He was a sailor who never cursed, never raised a hand that wasn’t called for and didn’t even like tattoos because they desecrated our “perfect bodies.”

Did I mention that he raped her? All the fuckin’ time? Yeah, neither did she.

Her sister, Cathy (Vanessa Brown), seems to know all of this and tries to counter her lies with semi-fact, telling her kids that her father wasn’t much of a sailor and was a mean ol’ bastard. It doesn’t help, though. The kids love Molly more than they love Cathy, so they believe her.

Then there’s Long John (Lonny Chapman) and Doris (“Method” teacher, Peggy Feury). They’re Molly’s co-workers and the only adults who seem to have any real compassion for what she’s going through…although they don’t really know what it is that she’s going through.

Oh yeah, and Molly kills men. She has sex with them and then kills them, usually with a razor blade. She obsessed with television, so everyone that she kills is some sort of television star.

All of these messages are pretty muddled and I really don’t know what the hell the movie was trying to say. Celebrity culture is stupid, ok. Got that. Does it make people kill? I don’t think that was the point. Molly is called a “liberated woman.” Is the movie anti-women’s lib? Uh…it might just be, because obviously liberated women were raped by their fathers and are going to kill men in horrible, nasty ways.

Sigh. I really don’t know what to think. The movie was written by the husband of Millie Perkins and they apparently worked on it pretty closely together, working out scenes and dialogue. That’s not saying a lot since there is so much here that just doesn’t make any sense. All of the long pauses are annoying. The dialogue can be confusing at times. The opening scene where Molly is walking on the beach with her nephews and she starts fantasizing about the deaths of the body builders is just plain silly.

I really wanted to like this movie a lot. The intro that Lars did for it made it sound like it might be another Possession. It had a lot of the elements that make for a fun and disturbing film: incest, murder, children assisting suicide… Unfortunately, it all added up to a 90 minute movie that felt about three hours long because not one single character saw what was right in front of their faces: Molly is one fucked up chick. From the first frame of the movie we pretty much know that. She’s crazy and she’s going to do something horrible.

Then again, the police detectives seemed to know more than anyone else. They picked up her clothes from…somewhere? They just suddenly had them (although, she was wearing them at some point before they got them) and figured out that they were the killers’ clothes. How? I don’t know. Their questioning of Cathy was weird, too, because she was WAY too nervous. There was no reason for her to be as nervous as she was because there was really no reason to suspect Molly at the time.

One of those cops, by the way, is Red, the bum from Back To The Future. He was also the casting director on this movie and cast his own daughter in the flashback scenes…sick fuck.

As for the nastiness of the movie…there almost is none. Yes, Molly kills these men in pretty nasty ways, but they don’t really show it. She lifts a razor blade up and brings it down on a pair of dicks that are off screen. Blood squirts on her pants. Then, later on, she slices a guys neck with a razor, but there’s no cut and precious little blood. She’s supposed to be bathed in blood by the end of it, but she just looks like she spilled some fruit punch on herself.

I can’t really recommend The Witch Who Came From The Sea. Yeah, if you want to make fun of a really boring movie, check it out, I guess. It’s a weird flick in that “man-hating woman” subgenre of homicidal maniac movies. Unfortunately, that doesn’t make it particularly good.

That poster, by the way, is probably the best part of the movie. No one gets beheaded in the film…ever. Not even close. The painting is actually from a comic book from a few years earlier. Pretty awesome artwork, even if it’s completely non-sequitur to the movie.