From Redemption films, a pair of Eros-infused British horror cheapies from the ‘70s are now available on Blu-ray, rife with nubile pink breasts and dripping with Gothic psychedelia. Virgin Witch, from 1971, starts off as predictable exploitation cheesecake and slowly evolves into a slicked-up orgy-fest of Black Mass ritual and weird, shifting character alliances. Killer’s Moon, a gleeful Clockwork Orange rip-off, has a more sadistic edge, chronicling the rape and desecration of a hapless band of adolescent choirgirls forced to stay overnight in a remote inn after their bus breaks down in the middle of the British countryside.
In Virgin Witch, sisters and aspirant models Betsy and Christine run afoul of Sybil Waite, a modeling agency executive renowned for discovering new industry talent, but driven by twisted Sapphic lust to pursue the obscure art of Satanic witchcraft. After Christine and Betsy are invited to tag along with Sybil for a weekend photo shoot in the country, they discover the modeling agency is merely a recruitment vehicle for Sybil’s coven, which initiates new members by stripping them down, oiling them up, and tossing them into a big, wet, naked sex pile with all the other existing members. Christine is immediately game to participate, but Betsy is horrified – with her sister allied to the dark side, and the rest of the Satanists slowly closing in on her, Betsy struggles to find a means of escaping the coven with her mind, soul, and hymen intact, unaware that Christine’s own previously dormant supernatural abilities may be the key to instigating Sybil’s downfall.
Unlike Virgin Witch, which plays like a pre-porn nudie on an earth-shattering acid trip, Killer’s Moon instantly registers as a twisted, bastard descendent of the Hammer school – Gothic, dreamlike atmosphere shot through with healthy doses of oozing blood and quivering, supple breasts. A group of private school girls get stranded in the wilderness after their bus breaks down on a cross-country journey to a choir recital. Along with a pair of priggish schoolmarms and an indifferently jolly bus driver, they trek through the foggy wilderness to a nearby, looming hotel converted from an Edwardian manor house, which has been closed down for renovations during the off season. Inside, the girls encounter a friendly middle-aged innkeeper sympathetic to their plight who welcomes them inside and offers to air out some rooms. Things take a turn for the twisted, however, when a group of mental patients clad in ominous white surgical scrubs break into the hotel and begin gleefully raping and murdering everyone they come across.
Both movies exemplify the British Z-grade fusion of outré sex and bizarre Psychotronic violence that was the result of the country’s schizophrenic 1970s relationship with provocative content in the cinema. British censorship organizations were thrown for a bit of a loop in the 1970s with the emerging advent of VHS technologies, which suddenly made it possible for British citizens to acquire and exchange banned films in a format tailor-made for stealthy indulgence within the privacy of their own homes.
Killer’s Moon, released later in the decade, was famously circulated in Britain as a “video nasty” – weird, no-budget gore films so aggressively antisocial they were banned by British censors, and thereby granted instant notoriety in trading circles, materializing out of the woodwork on degraded, recopied VHS bootlegs that were furtively passed around like porn (many of these productions originated in Britain, but memorable examples also include Friedkin’s The Exorcist, Tobe Hooper’s Texas Chainsaw Massacre, and Abel Ferrara’s Driller Killer). Virgin Witch’s deviant sexual fetishes run the gamut from mind control to group sex to demonic possession – raunchy, but still relatively soft compared to other erotic films of the same era. Killer’s Moon has more hard-edged priorities, borrowing as much from supernatural horror and slasher movies as from the softcore circuit, and displaying the same sharp-toothed sadistic proclivities that its progenitor, A Clockwork Orange, ironically parodied.
The transfers for both films look beautiful, and Redemption even managed to scrounge up some extras for Killer’s Moon, including a commentary track and interviews with the film’s director and star, plus trailers and image galleries. Both films are scintillating, gaudy, and intense guilty pleasures, as well bizarre niche slices of cinematic history – creative, defiant exemplars of both the deeply subconscious and screamingly public response to the unilateral equation of sexuality with violence, and of both with obscenity and contraband.