The Curator of Schlock #358: Season of the Witch

The Curator of Schlock #358 by Jeff Shuster

Season of the Witch

Also known as Hungry Wives

I think my traveling kangaroo companion, Edwige, killed a Quebecer named Lickity Split in an illegal street fight. I collected my winnings and skedaddled before the cops showed up. Apparently, kangaroos punch really hard. I’m not heading back to that bar until the heat dies down.

This week’s Arrow Home Video is 1973’s Season of the Witch from director George Romero, of Night of the Living Dead fame. Apparently, the original distributer tried to sell the flick as a softcore porno called Hungry Wives.

The film never really found an audience and didn’t gain any attention until Dawn of the Dead became a hit. Hungry Wives was then triumphantly rereleased under the title Season of the Witch.

You could file this movie under the dissatisfied-housewife-turns-to-the-occult-to-spice-things-up-in-her-life genre. The housewife in this movie is named Joan Mitchell (Jan White) and she is 39 years-old. She has a free spirited daughter named Nikki (Joedda McClain) and a workaholic husband named Jack (Bill Thunhurst).

Joan is plagued by bad dreams usually revolving around her being locked in a dog cage by her husband or, more disturbingly, being given a sales pitch on the wonders of suburban life by her husband. Making matters worse, she regularly sees a psychiatrist who can’t distinguish shit from Shinola. And worse still, she’s joined by an insufferable gaggle of the other housewives and weekend parties with Mad Libs games. If I were her, I’d be bereft, too.

While talking to her friends, Joan hears about a new neighbor rumored to be a witch, a practitioner of the forbidden art of spells and magic. Apparently, this was a trend in the late 1960s America, according to the commentary by Travis Crawford on this superb Arrow Home Video release. Joan and her friend Shirley (Anne Muffley) visit this neighbor and Joan receives a beginners guide to witchcraft book. The two of them go back to Joan’s house where they run into her daughter and this obnoxious college professor she’s dating named Gregg. You get the whole Silent Generation versus Baby Boomer showdown between Joan and Gregg when he plays some head games with her friend Shirley. On the ride back to Shirley’s house, Joan has to listen to Shirley complaining about how she’s old and over the hill and that Joan will be there soon enough.

Joan returns home earlier that she should have because she overhears Nikki and Gregg having sex. When her daughter realizes she’s home, she storms off and moves out the next day without telling anyone. Joan’s husband slaps her around for not doing anything. The police get involved, but no one knows where Nikki is. I think it’s around this point that Joan goes all in on the witchcraft stuff, gathering up occult items and casting spells. She casts a spell on Gregg so that they can have an affair. All is going well, but then Joan starts having vivid nightmares about a demon masked stranger trying to break into her house. She then gets the bright idea of trying to conjure something. I won’t spoil the rest, but this is an interesting lost movie of George Romero’s.

Check it out.

Photo by Leslie Salas

Jeff Shuster (episode 47episode 102episode 124episode 131episode 284episode 441episode 442episode 443, episode 444, and episode 450) is an MFA graduate from the University of Central Florida.

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