Plot: As she stands on the gallows with a noose around her neck, Margery (Marie Santelle) unleashes a vicious diatribe against those who have condemned her. She is indeed a witch, lauding her bond with Satan and placing a curse upon the Stuart bloodline, as that was the family name of the man who betrayed her. Centuries later, Stuart’s descendant Mac (Robert Elston) is a professor of psychology, who specializes in the study of superstition. He engages his students to explore the occult and supernatural, including of course, witchcraft. A young woman named Jill (Anitra Walsh) is in his class and when she discovers a worn old tome about spells, she is excited to show it to Stuart and the others. The group tries to summon the spirit of the witch Margery, but the ritual seems to have failed. But in truth, Margery has possessed Jill and plans to make the most of this second chance. Will Margery enact her violent vengeance, or can she stopped before its too late?
Entertainment Value: This movie opens with a scene devouring Marie Santell delivering a spooky monologue, then as the credits roll, a woman with a horrible singing voice croaks one of the worst songs ever created. As you listen to this miserable song, you know Mark of the Witch is going to be an awesome movie. The pace is slow and the focus is on dialogue, which is sure to drive off some folks, even genre fans. But if you appreciate earnest, but terrible acting, this is a minor masterpiece. I love how dead serious the movie is, as it allows the cast to chew through scenes with wild abandon. Anitra Walsh is literally like a woman possessed, giving a jaw dropping turn that both mystifies and torments the senses. She is just a blast to watch and she really runs with the role, just great stuff. The others are just as overly serious, but no one can compete with Walsh’s presence here. The emphasis on dialogue and slow pace is certain to limit the film’s appeal and that’s understandable. But I think the goofy story, abundance of occult mumbo jumbo, and Walsh’s beautiful train wreck of a performance are enough to make Mark of the Witch worth a look.
Walsh gets her girls out, but her lovely breasts aren’t given much screen time. A few scenes include some blood, but its minimal. A non graphic knife cut yields some red stuff and a witch cries blood later on, which is nice. But Mark of the Witch doesn’t offer much naked time or blood, which combined with the slow pace might alienate some genre devotees. While I do miss rampant breasts and blood, the dialogue in this movie is so hypnotically bad, I couldn’t help but be distracted. Walsh has countless lines that entertain, whether she is asking what a telephone is or spouting occult gibberish. I love nonsensical occult rituals and phrases, so I appreciated all the overblown witchcraft talk here. For a movie that moves slowly and has little in the way of boobies/gore, Mark of the Witch manages to be one pretty crazy ride at times. The writing and performances are what drive that insanity, especially Walsh’s special work. Not to mention that torturous opening credits song and the film’s goofball conclusion. It could have been so much more off the rails of course, but I think it still earns more than a few crazy points.
Overall Insanity: 5/10