SEASON OF THE WITCH
Film Year: 1973
Film Length: 104 minutes
Aspect Ratio:[*] 1.85:1
Audio:[*] English 2.0 mono
Release Date: October 18, 2005.
Entertainment Rating: /
Written by: George Romero
Directed by: George Romero
Every Night is Halloween.[/i]
I’m sure all directors have made a movie that they wish they could do all over again. Maybe they now have different ideas or they have more money to complete their vision, or wish that studios and producers wouldn’t get in the way of the polished product. I don’t think that these cases always make for a film disaster; some of them still turn out good.
Here’s a chance for you to see a good disaster. Actually, I don’t think it was a disaster for any of the reasons above. I think it’s just a good old boring movie. Here we have George A. Romero shocking the audience with Night of the Living Dead in 1968. Then he follows up with three lesser known flicks: The Crazies, There’s Always Vanilla (1971), and Hungry Wives (1973) (aka Jack’s Wife). Season of the Witch IS Hungry Wives, just with a title change.
It’s about a desperate housewife who turns to witchcraft to kill her lack of excitement in her life. She has an uncommunicative husband who is never home and always works, she’s distant from her 19-year old daughter and she’s having a difficult time letting go of the social conservatism of the time. Season of the Witch targets the feminist movement of the 1970s – the liberation of the socially and emotionally repressed women.
The woman believes herself to be a witch after being interested in it, reading a few books, and setting up some props in her living room. Her unfamiliarity with it makes her scared of it and her nightmares lead her to tragedy – or liberation?
The movie feels long at 104 minutes. This is the re-edited version that was titled Jack’s Wife, whereas the original Hungry Wives film was 130 minutes. I don’t want to imagine how much longer that one felt. Season of the Witch was the home video version after the success of Creepshow and had a runtime of 89 minutes. Would I have enjoyed that version more? Probably. The movie has some good moments, but I was just too bored…
VIDEO QUALITY /
This is the worst DVD I’ve ever seen. The case incorrectly labels it as enhanced for widescreen TVs and the aspect ratio is 1.85:1. I did not zoom in on the image to fill the screen because that would make things worse, so via HDMI within a 4:3 area I watched this film.
This is probably sourced from a video of some sort: resolution is very limited, it’s faded, discoloured, flesh tones are variable from brown to green. The far left of the video frame isn’t straight; it’s blurry along that edge and discoloured to pink too. There also seems to be a very very faint noise issue that I’ve seen when a system isn’t grounded properly. Most viewers probably won’t notice that one. Film artefacts are everywhere and there is a distracting amount of edge haloing that isn’t related to this particular DVD transfer. Wherever this copy came from, it had a horrible transfer prior. It looks like it’s come from a VHS tape – minus composite video artefacts. Y/C was probably kept separate on this source.
AUDIO QUALITY /
This Dolby Digital 2.0 mono soundtrack is noisy and limited in fidelity. There is high frequency noise throughout. Background hiss is also distracting. There is no bass and a thin midrange. Yikes! Don’t even try to listen to this one at your reference level. I'm also not sure what is worse: the audio quality of this movie or the "Season of the Witch" theme song...
SPECIAL FEATURES /
The features on this disc are decent. Most interesting to Romero fans is his film that was made just after Night of the Living Dead. There’s Always Vanilla is his entry into dramas because he feared he’d be stereotyped as a horror director. I’m sorry George, we like you that way! I’ll be honest with you folks, I didn’t watch this film. After being unimpressed with Season of the Witch I wasn’t about to sit through another “lost” film. I passed on it, so for those of you who actually purchased this DVD, please let us all know how surprisingly good or predictably bad this movie was.
Theatrical trailers for both films and over 50 poster and stills can be found on this disc. You’ll also see the Hungry Wives trailer as well as a Hungry Wives opening credit sequence as well as the Jack’s Wife opening credit sequence. You guessed it: they are the same as the film just with a name change. The picture quality between the three of them is vastly different.
Three features are also on this disc. First is a new 17-minute Season of the Witch: The Secret Life of Jack’s Wife featuring lead actress Jan White discussing scenes in the film. She’s very talkative about it and I found it more entertaining than the film.
Next is a 60-minute documentary featuring Romero himself. He appears very nervous on this documentary titled The Directors: George Romero. He’s shaky and doesn’t look confident at all, but he goes in depth about how his film career started from Night of the Living Dead and beyond…all in Pittsburgh. It includes interviews with cast and crew members as well.
A special feature with There’s Always Vanilla is called Digging Up the Dead: The “Lost” Films of George A. Romero. Since I never flipped the disc over to watch There’s Always Vanilla, I never did watch this documentary. No, it’s not being lazy as a reviewer, it’s being smart with my time. I’ve already wrote way too much about this DVD than I intended to.
Don’t forget to check out the George A. Romero Biography too.
IN THE END…
Well…what a disappointment. Both the DVD quality and the film itself suck. No wonder these are two “lost” films of Romero. I found Season of the Witch boring and a waste of my time. Why did I decide to watch these? I thought the cover looked cool and therefore thought I’d watch a good 1970’s flick. Was I ever wrong. If you are looking for a good Romero flick, you are best to stick with his “Dead” films or Creepshow. At least you’ll find some entertainment there.
November 02, 2005.