When a young woman starts dancing at a burlesque club, she comes in contact with, and joins, a coven of witches. She becomes a witch of love, and uses her spells to get men to fall in love with her. But there is always a dark side to a spell coming true...
In 2009 we reviewed a movie that arrived to us from Cult Epics called "Viva". At first glance it seemed like a genuine '60s/'70s sexploitation movie, but it turned out to be a movie made in 2007 by a talented person by the name of Anna Biller. To this day, "Viva" is one of few modern movies to truly achieve the style and feel of the '60s/'70s sexploitation movies by directors like Tinto Brass, Radley Metzger and Herschell Gordon Lewis. Now Anna Biller returns with an absolutely wonderful tribute to '60s occult, sexploitation and psychedelic films.
Although set in the modern day (as proved by modern cars in the background and brief use of cellphones), "The Love Witch" continues Anna Biller's authenticity of the old. "The Love Witch" is about Elaine, a young woman who joins a coven of witches to put spells on men to fall in love with her. The men are no match for Elaine when she uses magic to get them to fall for her and have sex with her, but they become obsessed and everything ends in misery. It's a love thriller dosed in sex magic, technicolor and crime.
Truth is, that even though there are moments in "The Love Witch" where you are reminded of the modern day, there are few movies that are as true to their inspiration as the films by Anna Biller. "The Love Witch" is absolutely endearing in the way it achieves the atmosphere, acting, lighting, colors, music and sets in the way of the '60s movies that inspired it. The few moments that you see something modern doesn't hurt the movie in any way - if anything it reminds you that this was actually made today. What's even more impressive about Anna Biller's craft is that she sees all the flaws and quirks of the old movies and replicates them in a fun way, without ever becoming a parody. As cheesy as some of the editing, set pieces and acting can be in this type of film, "The Love Witch" takes them all seriously because it knows that it's needed to stay authentic.
I hope you realize that when I credit Anna Biller's work here, I am also crediting everyone involved in making this movie what it is. She might be the guiding hand, but if it wasn't for a group of people who can bring it all to life then "The Love Witch" could have been your typical homage that just doesn't reach all the way. Anna Biller does a lot though: director, writing, producer, composer, set designer and so on. But then we have the wonderful cinematography by M. David Mullen to realize it, the amazing makeup artists that can further authenticate the look of the cast. Which reminds me, we can't forget the near flawless cast. The beautiful and charming Samantha Robinson plays Elaine, and it's easy to fall for her just like the men in the film. Gian Keys has obviously studied the men of '60s and '70s cinema to bring out just the right expressions and delivery of lines. I could go on and on, but I think you get it. This is a project made out of respect and love of a very peculiar type of cult film, and everyone honors it by doing their very best.
The movie is a lot more than just a movie that looks and feels like the movies that inspired it: it's actually highly entertaining as well. If you dig deeper into it you'll find a woman's perspective of the female sexual grip of men, how men fall into trance by the female body, how a sexual woman might be perceived by other people, and the really rare thing might be to see how a occult/sexploitation cult film from the '60s could have been if made by a woman. At 2 hours long it could have easily been boring, but the characters and the occult love crimes that they get involved in, makes for a very fun ride. Obviously it would have been much weaker without its colorful and pulpy '60s charm, but there is a lot of joy in the writing to keep you hooked. It has enough odd ingredients to keep you guessing what will happen next.
We are a few months into 2016 now, and there haven't been that many movies to impress me, so Anna Biller's "The Love Witch" is possibly the first movie of the year to be a consideration for the future Best of 2016 list for me. It's a fun, creative, odd and very sexy movie that delivers it in true '60s fashion. If you take the early films of Tinto Brass and spice it up with the incidental humor of "Blood Feast", then you get "The Love Witch". If you like the films that inspired it then there is no doubt that you will find this extremely charming and entertaining. Don't miss out if you get the chance to see it!