The Witch's Curse

Year Of Production: 1962
Running Time: 75 Minutes
DVD Released By: Something Weird Video
Directed By: Riccardo Freda
Writing Credits: Oreste Biancoli, Ennio De Concini, Eddy H. Given (story), Piero Pierotti
Filming Location: Unknown

Starring: Kirk Morris, Hélène Chanel, Vira Silenti, Andrea Bosic, Remo De Angelis, Angelo Zanolli, Charles Fawcett, Gina Mascetti, John Karlsen

Tagline: I was unable to locate any taglines for this film.

Alternate Titles:
Maciste In Hell (1962)
Maciste All'Inferno (1962)

Interesting Bits of Trivia:
Director Riccardo Freda was credited unsing several different names throughout his career including Robert Davidson, Robert Hampton, George Lincoln, Willy Pareta and Willy Pareto. Freda was born in Alexandria Egypt of Italian parents. Educated in Milan, he became a sculptor, then a newspaper art critic, and then began a career in film in 1937 in the areas of screenwriting and production supervisor. He moved to film direction in 1942, beginning a career that lasted some forty years.

Rogue Reviewers Round Table Review: December 2002
Review Topic: "Blades and Big Biceps"




Cast Of Characters
Maciste: This is Maciste who is played by Kirk Morris even though you'd think the part was played by Elvis considering how much they look alike. He's supposed to be the big strong hero, but every time he goes to do something, he looks like he's gonna pop a vessel or something. Still, all in all, he is kind of a heroic figure.

Martha Gaunt (Young): She's the great great granddaughter of the old witch who cast the curse on the village. She's a decent lookin' gal with a good heart who just got stuck in the wrong place at the wrong time. She didn't even do nothin' and everyone's accusing her of being a witch just because of something that happened a hundred years earlier. Now how lame is that?

Charlie: Charlie's a good hubby who sticks with his gal till the end. Even when she's up on the stake about to get cooked, he's right there with her. Now that's love. That's dedication. That's...uh...stupid! Why the hell didn't he just bust her out of that jail and take off with her? I mean, duh!!!

Burgomaster: This guy is like the mayor/sheriff of the village. He's a dumb, ignorant oaf who started off acting like he was going to try to be logical about all this, but then ended up succumbing to the "burn the witch" mentality of the rest of the villagers. What a jerk!

Doctor: This guy isn't ever called anything except Doctor. He's the logical one in the village and the only one that can see that all these girls being accused of witchery are innocent. They've all gone mad though for some reason so he locks them up in a huge cell room attached to his house and keeps them there while he tries to find a cure. So to clarify this... This guy is keeping young, beautiful women locked up in a giant room that is directly accessible through a door in his house. Hmmm...I wonder what kind of treatments he's been trying on them?

Judge Parrish: This guy is seriously whack! He burned the original Martha Gaunt at the stake a hundred years ago because she didn't want him. He also had her lover killed in a fit of jealous rage. So now he hangs out with her down in Hell where they plot and plan together, endlessly linked because of their history together. I can't think of too much that would be worse than being tied to this schmuck for all of eternity.

Martha Gaunt (Old): Well I just thought of something that's worse. Looking like her. This is the old witch that cast the curse on the village as she was burning at the stake. She told Parrish that she would see him in Hell as she burned there on that stake...and sure enough she did. Now they both get to suffer, even though she probably didn't deserve it.




The Plot

After an old witch is burned at the stake, a curse falls upon the village that burned her. Young women are going insane and trying to hang themselves on this burned up old tree. Every time a new victim is claimed, the dead tree sprouts blossoms. When the old witch's great great granddaughter shows up in the village on her wedding night and moves into the old castle, the villagers form a mob, capture her, and try to hang her for witchery even though she's done nothing wrong. Maciste steps in and saves her, but then she's put on trial for witchery and wrongfully accused. Maciste then discovers that to break the witch's curse, he'll have to delve into the deepest pits of Hell to find her, before it's too late. Will Maciste find the witch in time to break the curse and save poor Martha's life? Will these villagers ever move into the modern world and stop being such a bunch of ignorant apes? Will the old witch ever get some quality dental work? The answers to all these questions and more will be found if you just read on...




What The Hell???
1. Whoah! Dramatic opening here folks. The credits are fading in and out over what looks like the fires of hell. It's a pretty cool scene actually. I'd like to say before I start, that I'm looking forward to this movie for two reasons. The first reason is that it has Kirk Morris in it. Kirk Morris played Heracles in The Conqueror of Atlantis, which is another film that I reviewed and enjoyed quite a bit. In this film, he plays Maciste, which is a character that was far too often renamed to Hercules when the English dubs of these films were made. It's nice to see that they didn't rename the character for this film.

2. Waiting for credits to be over now....waiting....waiting....waiting...farting...belching...waiting some more...oh finally! Ok the credits are over and we're treated to a bunch of religious freaks holding ye jolly ole witch burning. Man, she's ticked off big time too. Some pompous looking dude in a bad white curly wig is reading the charges and now she's accusing him of using this as his revenge because she wouldn't grant him her favors when she was young and pretty. Now, I don't know how old this chick is, but you'd have to go a hell of a long way back to get to a point where she even vaguely resembled something pretty. She got some gnarly lookin' teeth too. So the old witch, Martha Gaunt, casts one final curse on Judge Parrish as she burns up.

3. Now we jump forward one hundred years. A young woman is being hung from a tree and someone just cut her down. It was a burned up tree and as the guy was cutting her down amidst a crazed mob, they all see that the burned up tree is sprouting flowers. All the puritans in the mob start freakin' out and screaming witchcraft and all that garbage that those ignorant morons used to spew every time they saw something they didn't understand. Anyway, I don't really get this, because some of the people look like they want to kill her and some look like they want to help her. Maybe this next scene will explain it...

4. We cut now to two puritan lookin' guys talking. One, the Burgomaster, is like the mayor of the town and the other is a doctor. The burgomaster wants to refer the cases of mass hysteria to a higher authority and the doctor is insisting that he can diagnose the cause of the madness. The doctor asks the burgomaster if he believes in the devil and hell and all that, which indicates that the doctor is a rational, thinking man...very unusual for this time period. The burgomaster insists that it all started back when they burned that witch a hundred years ago. He says the women are going mad and apparently that girl that was hanging from the tree hung herself saying that the witch was calling to her. She was apparently a mother of two as well. Obviously, there's some kinda strange shenanigans goin' on around here. Apparently this tree has been doing this over and over again. Each time the tree claims another victim, it flowers. No one in the village has the guts to cut down the tree. They're all scared to death of it. Buncha freaks!

5. Now we go to a wedding. A young and pretty Martha Gaunt is marrying an Erol Flynn look alike. Apparently this is the great granddaughter of the old witch. She seems nice enough. Anyway, they head off to this creepy old castle in the middle of town. This is their new digs apparently. As they walk in, Martha freaks and says that something touched her face. He says, and very nonchalantly I might add, that it was probably a bat and that there's always lots of them in these old castles. And indeed he's right! Why there on the screen before my very eyes is one of the fakest looking bats on a string that I've ever seen! I wonder if the person on the other end of the string is on the castle payroll and is there just to add ambiance to the old place, or if he's just some kinda weirdo who enjoys hanging out in the castle rafters scaring the hell out of pretty women with the ol' "rubber bat on a string" trick. In any case Charlie, Martha's husband, is amused by the whole thing. They wander around looking for someone named Doris who I assume is the servant. Charlie says that no one's lived in the old place for a long time, and yet as the scene ends, we see a very much alive and healthy looking owl sitting on a perch in the living room. So if no one's lived there in so long, where'd the owl come from?

6. In the pub now, and we find a bunch of guys and a bar maid around a table talking about the bewitched tree and the old witch's curse that she laid upon the village. As one guy's leaving the pub, he notices a light in the window of the old castle. They freak out because no one's supposed to be living there. The carriage driver who brought Martha and her new husband to the castle, just happened to have walked into the pub before that. He told them that his mistress and her new husband just moved into the castle. They ask him who his mistress is and he says it's Martha Gaunt. Now I have to tell you here folks. This fat old barmaid throws the funniest, most goofball freak out that I've ever seen when he says that name. She...well...man I just cant describe it. It's hilarious though! It's almost like watching a cartoon freak out or somethin'. So anyway, she starts screaming about how they'll never have peace with her there and how they have to kill her and burn her at the stake and what not. She leads the entire pub out in a big mob. The only one left in there is the driver. I'm sure he'll be grabbin' a few free drinks while they're gone.

7. Back at the castle, an unsuspecting Martha is telling Charlie how much she loves him and she's givin' him a few smoochies. Just then, she hears this wicked insane laugh that Charlie didn't hear and she sees the candles go out all by themselves. Suddenly, they hear the mob outside the castle and Charlie goes to the window to look. Oh man, they got a battering ram and they're trying to break down the door. Now where the hell did they get that? Is there some emergency box it was sitting in or something with a sign on it that says, In case of witch, break glass? Or maybe this barmaid chick just pulled it out from between her great big...uh...nevermind.

8. So they break into the castle and Charlie manages to stab a couple of them with his sword, but he's cracked in the back of the head by another one and the mob takes Martha off to this prison room where they're planning on killing her. What a bunch of ignorant freaks these people are. Shows you what a lack of education can do. Just then, out hero Maciste comes riding up. He's just in a pair of shorts and looks totally out of place with the rest of these people. He throws the mob out of the way and bends the bars so that he can get through to save the girl. The doctor came in and tried to save the girl, but he couldn't. They just pulled him aside. Maciste is kickin' some serious butt now. He just saved the girl, and he and the girl and the doctor all went back into the doctor's chambers. OH! That's why the doctor was there. That's not a prison. It's the holding area where the doctor is keeping all the insane women who've been affected by the witch's curse. Now I get why he was there. I'm just not sure why they took Martha there to kill her. That didn't make much sense. Anyway, the doc and Maciste and Charlie and Martha are all in the doctor's house now. Maciste is just standing there lookin' all beefcake and not really saying much at this point. The doc says that they'll take it to the burgomaster so he can put a stop to all this.

9. The burgomaster puts Martha on trial. He asks her to put her hand on this big bible and swear that she's never used witchcraft, never conjured up evil, and yada yada yada. Martha says she will but just as she's about to, she hears this insane cackling laughter again. It frightens her but she puts her hand on the bible anyway. The bible promptly lights on fire and she's taken away, condemned to be burned at the stake for being a witch. Now if she had been quick thinking, she'd have said, "Get back, or I'll touch you and the same thing will happen to you!" Unfortunately for Martha, she don't think that quick.
10. The doctor and Maciste are headed out to that old burned up tree now. The doctor is telling him that if they want to save Martha, that Maciste is going to have to destroy that tree. Maciste has yet to say a single word at this point. I guess he's the strong, silent type. This tree is still smoking for some reason. Not sure why that is, but Maciste is pushing against it with all his might right now. I'm wondering why he's trying to push it over rather than just getting a shovel and digging it up by the roots? It's more work that way, but at least it'd get the job done. The tree is smoking more now, and it finally tilts off to the side exposing a light coming from a big hole beneath it. Maciste jumps down into the hole, and then the tree tilts back up and seals it off. I bet that right about now, Maciste is wishing that he'd have paid a little better attention in his Horticulture 101 class.
11. So now Maciste is at the gateway to Hell apparently. I always thought that Hell was in Detroit, but never mind... Anyway, they picked a good setting for this scene. It's a rocky lookin' cavernous kinda place with tons of smoke all over the place and flames and what not. It really is a good representation of Hell. At least it was, until Maciste just got himself attacked by a lion. What the hell is a lion doing in Hell? Oh well, I guess it doesn't matter. The old witch and some guy friend of hers are watching the whole thing from a distance. Maciste strangles the lion, but the guy says to the old witch that he'll never be able to beat the Devil himself. By the way, Maciste still hasn't said a single word.

12. Now Maciste has entered Hell itself. He's seeing a bunch of people being tortured by devils and the whole thing looks really cool. Considering the budget they had, they managed to create a really cool scene here. Maciste is heading down there now. I bet if he asks all of these people being tortured what they did when they were alive, I guarantee that every damn one of them would say they were a lawyer when they were alive. He's walking along through Hell now and everyone is pretty much ignoring him. I'm not sure why that is, but eventually he comes across a man who's stuck under a huge rock trying to hold it up. He gets under the rock and after a long struggle, finally manages to heft it up and over the ledge. The man he just helped offers to help him in return. He points out where the witch is that he has come to find. She's behind these great iron doors. Now at last my friends, Maciste finally speaks. Unfortunately though, it's only a few words and nothing of consequence.

13. Maciste goes over to the iron doors and suddenly they slam shut and flames burst out of them. He grabs a couple of rocks and uses them to push the doors open. Finally he makes it through, and as he travels along he's chased by this trail of flame on the ground. His hands are all burned at this point and he's got claw marks on his chest from his fight with the lion, and all I can think about at this point is how much he looks like Elvis. He's all messed up now. He looks like he's about to give up...like he's going insane and having a hard time focusing. He keeps looking at his burned hands. Finally, he makes it into a room where there's some water. He soaks his hands in the water and they seem somewhat better now. So he stumbles around a bit and finally he meets up with this really beautiful woman. She takes his hands and heals them. He thanks her and says that now he can continue on his struggle. She asks him what struggle, and he explains all about the curse and the girl who's going to die and what not. This girl knows his name and says that she wants to help him. They sit down and he tells her about his quest. She tells him that she met an old woman once who told her about being burned alive at the stake in that village because of the jealousy of a man who had wanted her in her youth. The story is more in depth than that, but I won't get into it here. Anyway, the girl takes him off to rest before he goes on with his quest. Now, this girl is super beautiful. I can think of a lot worse things than sleeping with her. If chicks like that hang out in Hell, then brother, buy me a one way ticket. Anyway, it's later now, and she just poured some misty something over some fruit before waking him up. Now she's offering him an apple. Like the big dumb dork that he is, he took a great big bite. He's telling her that he must leave now, but she's telling him that he can't and that she sees a burning in his eyes and that he loves her. They kiss...he gets a chubby...forgets who he is for an hour or so...passes out...wakes up to find her gone and his wallet empty...um...no. Would have been funny though.

14. Back in the prison cell, Charlie is getting to visit Martha. She doesn't even know how many days she has left to live. He won't tell her, but she says that she knows that it's only a few days and then starts crying about how no one will be able to save her. Well, I don't know what she thinks Maciste is doing, but he ain't hangin' out down in Hell just hoping to get a tan or somethin'.

15. Now, just so you all know, I just took a break from this review to have a couple of homemade jelly donuts and a bottle of champagne with my wife. I'm pretty lit right now, and I just saw something more horrible than the Hell that Maciste is traipsing through. I saw some of the Anna Nicole Smith show! Oh my god the pain! Make it stop!!! All I can think of is that movie Deuce Bigolo Male Gigolo where he's walking down the street with that big giant woman and people are shouting out things like, "Hey keep it in the circus!" and "Behemoth!" and "That's a huge bitch!" Oh man, I don't even know what to say right now. I'm buzzed and I still got about thirty minutes of movie left and I just saw something that will probably scar me for life far more than any B-Movie ever could. I feel like I should cry or somethin'.

16. Back in Hell now, Maciste is cruisin' along and suddenly he comes to a big flaming gorge. I had a flaming gorge myself today. My wife said she could hear me screaming from the bathroom all the way out into the kitchen. But that's another story... So this hot chick is on the other side of this gorge calling Maciste to come to her. So he goes over and picks up this huge log and and tips it over the gorge to make a bridge. It bounces like a super ball when it hits the other side, but once it finally settles down, he tries to cross it. Suddenly, there's this huge ogre guy on the other side and he lifts up the log and shakes it and almost knocks Maciste off. Maciste hangs on though. Then the ogre grabs the girl and walks off with her. He's gone for like two seconds and then comes back to shake the log again. This time he flips it completely up and throws Maciste back to the other side. This dude is laughing hysterically this whole time. It's hilarious! Maciste picks up another log on and tosses it across and tags the dude right in the chest with it. How'd that feel funny boy? Did that feel good? Well it knocked him on his can for a sec but then he got up and started laughing again. Finally, Maciste gets across and they have this big and very comical battle. I don't know who this dude is, but he's absolutely hilarious. At least he was until Maciste clocked him in the noggin with another log. He's out cold now and Maciste took off runnin'.

17. In the cell with Martha and Charlie now. The doctor just came in and said that the court refused to reverse it's decision and Martha is going to die tomorrow at dawn. The doctor leaves and Charlie starts saying how he'll share her fate and she'll die with him. Yeah, he says that now, but when push comes to shove, he's gonna run like a little bitch and shack up with the first chick who throws him the hairy eyeball.

18. Back in Hell yet again, Maciste just came across a guy who was chained down to a rock and getting pecked on by this huge vulture bird thing. He saves the guy and the guy tells him that he's lost his memory and that only by brushing aside the flames and gazing into the pool can he regain his memories. So he starts remembering fighting some cyclops. I assume this is from some other movie made by the same director. I doubt they would have shot new footage for this movie just for a flashback. Anyway, more footage now of hercules taking on the Mongol hordes. Now footage of the mob that grabbed Martha. Oh yes Maciste, it's all coming back now isn't it? So he gets up and goes along his merry way while some other big bird is feasting on that guy's innards again. Man, that would suck. It wouldn't suck as bad as say being castrated over and over again. Nor would it even remotely be as bad as say...having to watch reruns of the Anna Nicole Smith show for all of eternity. But all in all...hey wait a minute. Having a giant bird feast on your entrails is starting to sound pretty good. Funny how even the worst things are all relative, huh?.
19. So Maciste has his memory back now and he's on his mission again. The old witch and her cackling buddy are watching him again. She's laughing about how no one escapes the powers of the Devil. Then she says, "as you well know...Parrish." So that's who that dude is! Well then, if she's all cozied up with him now down in Hell, then why in the heck doesn't she just lift the curse on the village and be done with it? I mean, I can respect someone who holds a grudge, but come on now, it's time to get over it already lady!
20. She's casting a spell now. She just turned herself into that hot chick again that made Maciste lose his memory. I guess that was her before too. Parrish has got the hots for her big time now, but she pushes him away and calls him a fool. I can totally see him betraying her by the end of this flick. So she goes running out to Maciste, and on her way she gets dumped under a ton of styrofoam rocks. Maciste picks them up off of her, and in the process gets some little styrofoam bits on his shorts. She tells him that she found the witch and points him in some odd direction and tells him that the witch can be found there. I got news for you Maciste, you just had your hands on the witch, and man was she lookin' hot.

21. Back above ground now, they're tying Martha to the stake and Charlie just fought his way up there with her. The burgomaster just told them to chain him to the stake too. What a total jerk! I guess I underestimated Charlie too. He's actually going to go through with it.

22. Back in Hell now, and Maciste just got dumped in an avalanche. Once he recovers from that, he almost gets stampeded by a bunch of stampeding cattle. It's a good thing there was a big log nearby. He grabbed it and held off the entire stampede with it. Then he managed to turn the entire stampede around and push them into a ravine. The witch is telling Parrish now that she loves him and that he'll rescue her from her bonds in Hell. Parrish get's all ticked off as the witch gets Maciste to kiss her. As their lips touch, she turns to dust and disappears. Parrish screams and falls down in an avalanche of rocks. The bitch deserved it too, just like all the rest of these ignorant idiots.

23. Back up on Earth, the rain falls and puts out the fire that was set to burn Martha and Charlie. Everyone thinks it's a miracle and says the curse has been lifted. Just then, the burnt tree falls over and Maciste climbs out of the hole. He frees Martha and Charlie and then says his goodbye's. Now, um...he walks off just a bit and there's a horse standing there. He hops on the horse and waves and takes off. Now, I'm pretty sure that probably wasn't his horse. So basically the hero of this whole picture just ended the movie by stealing someone's horse. Now that wasn't very nice now was it? Some poor schmuck is gonna have to hoof it back to town now. Oh wait, these people were all jerks. Never mind... The movie's over anyway, so I'm not gonna worry about it.



Best Quote

Martha: "Charlie! Something brushed my face."
Charlie: "A bat probably. There are always some in these old castles."
Martha: "But...It seemed so large."
Charlie: "Well, possibly it was a large bat."

 

- Martha freaking out after they walk into the castle and a bat swoops down at her head. - (Reviewer's Note: Well Martha, I hate to break this to you, but it is your wedding night. That's probably not the only large bat you'll be seeing tonight, so you better just get used to it.)




Video Clip
When prompted, enter bmovie for the username and central for the password.

The Witch's Curse
Maciste beats the snot out of some goofy ogre and then cracks him in the head with a log.



The Conclusion
Well it's down to the conclusion now is it? I guess I should start by saying that this was yet another Italian movie that was dubbed into English. Fortunately, the main character Maciste, made it through the translation this time without being converted into Hercules. I have a strong dislike for the practice that used to exist of changing the name of every Italian sword and sandal actor with big muscles to "Hercules" for the American releases of the films. That was just wrong and shouldn't have been done. Many times, the character would be called Hercules, and then other things in the story wouldn't make any sense at all because they didn't go along with the real story of Hercules.

Anyway, now that I got that off my chest, let's move on to the acting. While some of the acting in this movie was passable, some of it was also very cheesy and over the top. I did however feel kinda bad for Kirk Morris. He wasn't really given a lot to say in this movie and didn't even speak in it until about a third of the way through. Even when he did speak, he didn't really have anything all that important to say.  Sadly, his acting skills were not really put to the test in this role.

One thing I particularly didn't like was that he had to strain real hard every time he tried perform some great feat of strength. I mean, this is supposed to be our muscleman hero here, and yet every time he tries to push something or lift something or do anything that requires strength, he literally looks like he's going to give himself a hernia doing it. Not only was it stupid to have him act like that, but it totally undercut his role as the super strong hero. I don't know what this director was thinking, but he really blew it big time by not letting him flex his muscles and strut his stuff.

As far as the rest of the characters go in this film, there's no one that really stands out as being memorable. This movie does do one thing really well however. With an obviously limited budget, they managed to do a really good job portraying Hell. I mean, the suffering people being tormented by demons, the fire all over the place, the cavernous scenes of smoking rock. It was all just incredibly well done for a movie with such a limited budget.

I think the biggest problem I have with this movie is that the storyline never really gained cohesiveness as the movie went along. It always just kinda felt like a group of scenes that came one after the other, and at times you felt like you were missing something in between the scenes. I did like this movie, but not as much as I hoped I would. I loved Kirk Morris in The Conqueror of Atlantis, so if you want to see a really good Kirk Morris movie, see that one. I think if you see him in this one first, you'll be disappointed. Still, all in all though, it was a decent movie and the scenes in Hell were great, so I'm going to be gracious and give this movie...

B-Movie Central's Rating: 3 Bees

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