The Witch Who Came From the Sea (1976)

Molly really knows how to cut men down to size.
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The Witch Who Came From the Sea - Molly really knows how to cut men down to size.

As the number of "video nasties left to watch" list reduces in size it is becoming more and more apparent that many of the films are not worthy of their cult status. The majority of the watched list consists of low quality films fishing for controversy or mediocre movies hyped above and beyond their nastiness levels. The Witch Who Came from the Sea falls comfortably into the latter category. The story is fairly simple and the director Matt Cimber struggles to fill the screen for the required amount of time thus resorting to some rather creative techniques to maintain interest.

With the misleading cover art and only the occasional nautical pun to help give relevance to the title, you would be forgiven for expecting something very different. The Witch Who Came from the Sea follows the mental deterioration of Molly (played by Millie Perkins) and the effect that has on the oddball people in her personal vicinity. Her childhood is exposed in a number of flashbacks which become more disturbing as the film progresses. Her father's molesty actions in her past explain her neuro-technical issues and her memories of him being a seafarer explain why she can justifiably claim to have came from the sea.

It is the character of Molly that places this movie in a category just above average. She is not a typical horror film psycho by any means, coming across as confused and forgetful with the attention span of a stoned ADHD sufferer in a tin foil factory. Molly's frequent flights of violent fantasy, her obsession with celebrity, her loose morals and her constant inebriation would make her blend in with the Californian population as a fairly standard citizen with only her "murdering for sexual perversion" attracting attention. Her witchiness is below the radar but "sea slag" was probably an inappropriate phrase for a movie title and "sea hag" was probably copyrighted by Elzie Crisler Segar so they went with witch. Cumulative error is how advertising worked in 1976.

It is understandable that The Witch Who Came from the Sea would put Malibu sand in the vaginas of the BBFC. The flashbacks can be quite disturbing if sufficient empathy is invested and they end with an occurrence that would turn any female into a man killer. These scenes and the after effects of the abuse are approached in a non-traditional manner, in a way that gets under the skin and effectively passes on the child's mixed emotions more than a violent and hate fuelled representation would. Molly did and still does idolise her father up until the end. Aside from these violations the destruction is also very penis orientated. This always pushes buttons, rattles cages and inspires idioms as does the word "cunt" which is put to good use in this film.

There is plenty of scope for hallucinogenic scenes as the main character spends most of her time drunk and taking dubious prescription medication prescribed by friendly yet misguided elderly people. When Molly is about to get disruptive there are auditory and visual aberrations thrown in to allow a basic understanding of how her neurons react to stimulation. This makes the viewer wonder if they are seeing depicted reality or the demons in Molly's head, the hints towards confirmation of the events that occurred are vague enough that it could be Molly integrating news and views into her own delusions. Combine these with her bizarre sex fantasies about bodybuilders and the guy from the shaving advert and you should be left totally confused but unfortunately you probably won't be.

The Witch Who Came from the Sea could have gone in many strange directions, the story is too simple to justify zero over-the-topness yet the director seems to hold back and tries to portray an amount of realism that often provides boredom. Controversial issues are touched, as is child Molly, but there is an element of the non-flashbacks storyline that never reaches crescendo and frequently becomes a drama about people that live near a beach. Saying that, it is a worthwhile watch but the hesitation to really push boundaries robs this of its cult status that the hype machine has adorned it with.
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