Burn, Witch, Burn (1962)

Article #863 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 7-26-2003
Posting Date: 12-23-2003
Directed by Sidney Hayers
Featuring Janet Blair, Peter Wyngarde, Margaret Johnston

A college professor discovers that his wife is using witchcraft, and destroys her charms, thus opening the door to supernatural revenge from an enemy.

Title check: Both titles are appropriate, though they don’t make much sense until the end of the movie.

This is the second cinematic adaptation I’ve seen of Fritz Lieber’s ‘Conjure Wife’, the first having been the Inner Sanctum movie WEIRD WOMAN. This one is more ambitious and plays up the horror elements to a much greater degree; it’s also somewhat more hysterical and sacrifices some of the subtlety of the earlier movie. The professor I found to be quite stupid at times, and at others inexplicably perceptive, and some of the scenes that are supposed to be scary actually come across as a bit silly. Nonetheless, it builds up to a much tenser climax than the earlier film, and even if some of the symbolic moments are a bit too obvious (it’s a little too blatant about the word that gets eradicated from the sentence on the blackboard), and the very ending a hair too convenient, it works well enough. It should be interesting to read the original novel sometime to see which of the movies is truer to it.


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