Tuesday, October 08, 2002


A forgotten B-horror film (from Republic) that has inexplicably turned up on DVD when so many greats are still missing from that format. Fairly good acting and a solid idea for a plot help make up for a low budget and bland directing style. Set in the Salem-ish town of Eben Rock, the story begins with Nancy Kelly returning to her hometown after years away (and after leaving her fiancee, John Loder, at the altar). She is the descendant of a witch-hunting judge who sent several accused witches to their fiery deaths. On a bus headed for town, an old lady meets up with Kelly and claims to be a reincarnation of a witch named Jezebel that her ancestor killed exactly 300 years ago. The bus runs off the road and Kelly is the only survivor (shades of CARNIVAL OF SOULS). Eventually, Kelly settles in town and rekindles her relationship with Loder (which Loder's sister, Ruth Ford, is not happy about), but soon Kelly gets the idea that Jezebel's spirit has inhabited her body, and the townspeople start freaking out.

Good ideas for scenes are undercut by too-harsh lighting and some of the worst day-for-night shooting I've ever seen--even nighttime interior scenes are too bright. The most successful scene is of Kelly, alone in her house at night during a storm, reading a book on superstitions which, when she puts it down, seems to leap of its own accord into the fireplace. A scene in a (very spare) church where the townspeople almost turn on Kelly until the preacher stops them, is also nicely done. There winds up being a rational explantation for most of the weird occurances, but a few things (like flowers dying at Kelly's touch) are left dangling. Elspeth Dudgeon, who, in drag, played the dying patriarch in THE OLD DARK HOUSE, has a small but creepy role as the witch on the bus.

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