Walpurgis Night, April 30th – a brief overview

witches coven

Walpurgis Night, April 30th

Walpurgis Night is the biggest holiday in the witches and sorcerers calendar, even bigger than All Hallows Eve. It is at the time when magic is at its strongest. There are numerous celebrations that take place on this night in the Netherlands, Germany, the Czech Republic, Sweden, Lithuania, Latvia, Finland and Estonia. The celebrations and gatherings (covens) reinforce and strengthen any spells, incantations and conjuring being executed. It is also known as one of those ‘between times,’ where it’s not yet spring and no longer winter. Along with the ‘between times’ is a belief that the veil between living and dead are the most thin and the spirit world is close at hand for beckoning, divination and to be put to use.

The biggest celebration and gathering is on the Brocken, the highest peak in the Harz Mountains, a group of hills in central Germany near the Weser River. In most of the celebrations, huge bonfires are lit and revelry continues into the morning hours.

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Gallery of Witchcraft art and photos through the ages. Not reflective of wiccans or modern witch lifestyles.

City of the Dead (1960), aka: Horror Hotel – movie review

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City of the Dead (1960)

aka: Horror Hotel (US)
Directed by John Moxey

Produced by Seymour S. Dorner, Max Rosenberg, Milton Subotsky, Donald Taylor
Screenplay by George Baxt

Story by Milton Subotsky

Starring:
Venetia Stevenson
Christopher Lee
Dennis Lotis
Betta St. John
Valentine Dyall
Patricia Jessel


Although this film is listed under Vulcan Productions, it was the first film in which Subotsky and Rosenberg worked together and is often considered the first Amicus Film.

The storyline is a bit choppy but not hard to follow. At the behest of her college professor, Driscoll, (Christopher Lee), Nan Barlow, agrees to do an extra assignment to boost her grade. Nan takes a road trip to Whitewood, a town with a history of witchcraft. When she gets there she finds the town barely changed in the past two hundred years. She arrives at night to eerie city-of-the-dead-1960-postersurroundings. The townsfolk are unfriendly and odd. A continuous fog and mist further cloaks the town in mystery. There’s some strange weirdness that adds to the creepy mood, like the hitchhiker ghost. There’s townsfolk that are often standing in the streets, shadowed in darkness, and /or standing completely still.

Iconic visuals such as the gathering of the coven and the back story sequence where they burn the witch Elizabeth Sewyn, further propel my enjoyment of this film. The horrifying sequence when they drag Nan into the depths of a hidden dungeon to sacrifice her at the 13th hour is a bold horror presentation for 1960. And only a half hour into the film our delightful main character, Nan (Venetia Stevenson), is sacrificed in ceremony. After some conflict with Professor Driscoll, Nan’s brother, Richard, and boyfriend, Bill, head to Whitewood to find her. They are joined by city of the dead pic 6Patricia, a Whitewood native who‘s father was a pastor in the town. Because of this format in story telling, (MC missing, loved ones go to find her) CotD is often compared to Psycho. But the similarity stops at that one point because to me they are completely different types of films.

What really makes this film stand out is the wonderful mood and atmosphere portrayed by the stark black & white contrast and fantastic cinematography. When I’m in the right mood, some of the scenes can still creep me out. It succeeds where other films of the same ilk have not with me, such as The Wickerman, The Devil’s Reign, and The Blood On Satan’s Claw. It is films like this that endear me to the b&w image and artistry of yesteryear. I really feel this is an underrated horror film and one of the best witch/satanic themed films ever made.


Amicus Films Overview – a master list of Amicus films reviewed at Parlor of Horror.

Witchin’ & Bitchin’ (2013) – movie review

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Witchin’ & Bitchin’ (2013)
Spanish – Las brujas de Zugarramurdi

Directed by Álex de la Iglesia
Starring:
Hugo Silva
Mario Casas
Carmen Maura
Carolina Bang

 

The title of this film wasn’t a real eye catcher for me and I actually prefer the Spanish title, The Witches of Zugarramurdi. With that said, I delved into the film not expecting much and was delighted with what I saw.

This is a wacky, crazy, over-the-top horror film that is a lot of fun. It’s a Spanish film, subtitled, but easy to watch and enjoyablewitchin and bitchin poster 2 viewing. A rag-tag band of thieves heist a pawn shop and attempt to make a clean getaway. The problem is with Jose; it was his day to watch his son, per his divorce settlement and he brings the young lad along on the heist. With Antonio, he had to borrow the car from his girlfriend but she needed it back and took it during the robbery leaving them without a getaway car. And that’s just the beginning of dozens problems that plague these enterprising men as they head for the French border with a bag full of loot and gold.

Unbeknownst to the band of thieves, the Basque town of Zugarramurdi, in the Spanish countryside, is cursed and populated with members of Europe’s oldest and biggest witches coven. Oh, and they happen to be cannibals. The sack of pawned gold holds evil power because of the broken promises and lost hopes of wedding rings returned and misery dispensed. The gold will help the coven perform a sacred ceremony that will enable them to wield a reign of terror upon the world.

Comical and bizarre witch family members scuffle with the thieves and two detectives who had been on their trail. The witches raise the mother goddess, (a sight to be seen – comically horrifying on many levels) in order to fulfill a prophecy and enable the Coven to take control of the world. It’s a zany horror-comedy reflecting shades of John Dies at the End, Black Sheep, and Dead Alive. It’s a fun film that I enjoyed quite a bit and it had me laughing out loud several times. It has won numerous awards at the 28th Goya Awards honoring Spanish film and entertainment. So if you’re in the mood for some supernatural comedy horror and don’t mind reading some subtitles, look no further. This film is worth the effort.

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A fun and funny film about witches, and dealing with ex-wives in this high octane comedy!

I give it 4.0 wicked witch spells out of 5 on the accursed coven of conjured concubines scale.