The Witch Who Came from the Sea

01/29/2021 06:34

Film: The Witch Who Came from the Sea

Year: 1976

Director: Matt Cimber

Writer: Robert Thom

Starring: Millie Perkins, Lonny Chapman and Vanessa Brown



For this movie, another one that I had never heard of, but it appeared on one of the October movie challenges I’m participating in. It was a bonus watch that could not be used for other categories. The name struck me as it feels like the era it came from, the 1970s, where we got some great titles in general. The synopsis here is a disturbed woman is haunted by memories of childhood abuse, which culminates in a murder spree.

Now to say this movie is weird would be an understatement. We start this off with Molly (Millie Perkins) with her two nephews at the beach, Tadd (Jean Pierre Camps) and Tripoli (Mark Livingston). Her attention is drawn to a few bodybuilders who are working out nearby. Molly is getting images of them dead in some bloody fashion. She takes the two boys home to their mother, Cathy (Vanessa Brown).

It is here we see these two get into it. Molly works at a bar where Cathy is on welfare and does sewing for people as a side job. The children like Molly better, because she believes in more ‘fairy tale’ look at life. Molly is convinced their father was a great sea captain where Cathy brings them back to the Earth that he was a no good drunk who did bad things. Molly can’t handle the stress and this drives her to drink. While there, she does watch football with the boys.

The movie then takes us a surreal scene where Molly is in a room with Sam Walters (Gene Rutherford), the quarterback for the Los Angeles Rams, and his favorite receiver Austin Slade (Jim Sims). It appears to start out as a drug induced sexual encounter, but Molly ties them up and things goes crazy from there.

After seeing this, I wasn’t sure if it was real or not. Molly goes to work late. The place is a bar run by Long John (Lonny Chapman). They seem to have an open relationship of sorts. He is older and laid back, which she seems to enjoy. Molly also enjoys this commercial about shaving that features Alexander McPeak (Stafford Morgan). She is even more intrigued when she meets him at a party thrown by a retired actor Billy Batt (Rick Jason). He’s not used to being told no and Molly makes him regret that.

It is soon after this that we learn the murder of the football players really happened. Molly continues to spiral as she continues to drink heavily and does things that she normally wouldn’t. This includes getting a mermaid tattoo on his lower chest from Jack Dracula (Stan Ross). Two detectives start to go around the area, Beardsley (Richard Kennedy) and Stone (George ‘Buck’ Flower). This upsets Cathy and in turn, Molly herself. Is Molly unstable enough to kill these players or is there something else going on here?

To really drive this point home, this movie is quite weird. I don’t want to necessarily go as far to say that this is an arthouse film, but it is pretty close to that. There is this surreal feel to what we’re getting here where I wasn’t completely sure what was real or what wasn’t. The movie does a really good job giving us aspects of Molly’s life. She is unreliable to know what is real and what’s not.

Some of my initial impressions here from what was given before the actual reveal were that Molly was crazy. I had an idea from what Cathy was saying; all of things on the beach about their father weren’t necessarily true. It would seem to me that Molly is living in denial. The first couple scenes of young Molly (Verkina Flower) and her father, played by John F. Goff, was that he molested her. It reminded me a lot of what Stephen King put into Gerald’s Game actually. After the first deaths, I wasn’t sure if she made them up as a fantasy or she actually did them. This is interesting way to present this, because at first we get to hear what she says and then Cathy gives us closer to the truth.

It would appear these people are living in a poorer neighborhood. We have Cathy on welfare. Molly is working in a seedy bar, but they’re not that far from LA. Billy has a bit of money and I get the impression that he lives like a king around the area. Long John seems to make enough money to get by. Molly is an alcoholic and I think that is bit of a way that she’s controlled here. It is also hard to believe that she could be doing the things that are being done. Another waitress of Doris (Peggy Feury) makes some highly inappropriate comments that are offensive about who she thinks is doing the killings. I can’t come down too hard when this movie came out though, but I don’t like it.

Before moving away from this, I do want to delve a bit into the visions that Molly is having. I think it is well done to show us the bodybuilders being mutilated before what happens to the football players. It brings doubt into what we’re seeing. From there, you don’t know what is real or what’s not, for the most part. There are some deep-seeded issues here that were never resolved. This culminates with her getting this tattoo on her chest, which she regrets later on and at first said that was a horrible thing to do. The reason why she does it though is heartbreaking and makes a lot of sense to what they’re getting at. This also might not of actually happened and more of a brand that she thinks she got since she is doing bad things. I don’t know if this would work as well as it should without how well Perkins plays the character. She plays being drunk and drugged very well. She also can change emotion at will which makes her seem much more unstable.

Aside from her performance, I’d say the rest of the cast was fine. Chapman is interesting as this older bartender who cares about Molly, but he really isn’t equipped to help her like she needs. The same could be said for Feury, who has some horrible belief system. Brown I feel bad for her. She just wants what is best for her children, but she seems to have lived in the system her whole life and doesn’t know a way out. Camps and Livingston are fine. They don’t add much. I’d say that Jason, Morgan, Kennedy and the rest were fine in support. It was fun to see Flower in his cameo and I guess he did the casting as well which is cool.

The last things to really go over briefly would be the effects and the soundtrack. I do like that this is from the 1970s, so they went practical with the effects. They don’t go heavy with them and it does seem that a lot of that was hidden where they could. The blood is a bit watery. I do like the more surreal images we’re seeing and the effects in these are bit more violent which looked solid. The soundtrack they synced up to it does give off an eerie vibe without being overpowering as well.

So now with that said this movie is one that I never really heard of and it does some interesting things. I like this look at Molly that at first you wouldn’t think much. She is a modern woman who does what she wants, when she wants to. There are some deep seeded issues though that are unresolved and she is coping with drugs and alcohol. The effects we get in the movie I have some slight issues with, but the surreal visions and the soundtrack work there. The movie is a bit boring if I’m honest and was a bit hard to follow at times. Not bad by any stretch though, I will say that. I’d rate this as just over average. I will also say that despite my lower rating, I’ve heard this cover on a podcast and I’m intrigued to delve a bit more into this movie now that I’ve seen it.


My Rating: 7 out of 10