By Melissa Antoinette Garza
I love 1970s horror movies. They have a certain look, feel, tone and rawness to it that modern movies rarely capture. As I was perusing the new Amazon Prime films, I came across NECROMANCY (1972). It was a movie I had never seen and it starred one of my favorite actors and legendary of the screen, Orson Welles.
The movie begins when Lori (Pamela Franklin) finds out the baby she just gave birth to was dead. She goes into a depression. At home, her husband Frank (Michael Ontkean) is taking the news in stride. He doesn’t seem upset or aggravated which hurts Lori even more.
Still, she reluctantly agrees to go on a work-related trip with him to a town called Lilith. Even the name of the town strikes a chord with her and the trepidation nearly stops her.
On the way, a car veers off a cliff and explodes. A small doll with blonde hair was being clutched by the dead woman. Lori takes the doll and finds fingernail clippings in its pockets. Once again, Frank seems unfazed by the event.
As they approach Lilith, Lori notices there’s a barrier blocking entry. A man comes over and allows them to enter.
Soon, Lori begins having premonitions. She sees a funeral for a small boy on the top of a hill. She goes up and stares down into the coffin as Frank’s boss, Mr. Cato (Orson Welles) reads a sermon. Suddenly, the image switches and she sees herself in the coffin before everything and everyone disappears.
The women and men who live in Lilith are not allowed to have children and all are under the age of 30, apart from Cato. They are open about being members of a witches’ coven and instruct Lori that they worship a different God. They claim that their religion is the only one that can change things in this lifetime.
Frank convinces her to go to a party where she drinks a red wine that makes her woozy. She has her cards read and as each one is flipped over, premonitions of what each one means floods her mind. She begins to see Mr. Cato’s dead son.
It isn’t long before she realizes that Mr. Cato’s reason for having her in Lilith is a sinister one. He needs both her body and soul. As Frank delves deeper into the cult, she realizes she must escape on her own and rely on her faith – or she’s a dead woman.
This is a terrific film. It has the tone of ROSEMARY’S BABY (1968) with the small-town eeriness of THE STEPFORD WIVES (1975). Admittedly, NECROMANCY isn’t as good as those films. There are some psychedelic aspects that both age the film and take the viewer out of the moment. The special effects, though minimal, are quite awful. Still, the good far outweighs the bad.
The acting is spectacular. Beyond Welles being Welles and owning each scene he’s in, Pamela Franklin is perfect. She was in several other memorable horror movies including the underrated TV film SATAN’S SCHOOL FOR GIRLS (1973) and most notably the classic THE LEGEND OF HELL HOUSE (1973), which also starred the brilliant Roddy McDowall.
Just as she was in those movies, she was spectacular in this. She had a brilliant way of appearing both witchy and inquisitive while still innocent and naïve. Her eyes can tell more than the dialogue does at times. I absolutely adore her and would watch anything with her in it.
Overall, if you have AMAZON PRIME and have not seen this film, watch it. It’s a fascinating scary wild ride from start to finish.
Scared Stiff Rating: 8/10