Burn Witch Burn (1962) Review

One from the re watch pile..
Burn Witch Burn aka Night of the Eagle (1962)

Film: Sometimes I love the slow burn horror tales, the ones about atmosphere, acting, style: films like The Wicker Man, The Nanny, The VVitch. Ones that tell a story about fear and mistrust: sometimes I feel like watching those films instead of the blood soaked, titty jiggling, heavy metal soundtracked gorefests.

That’s not to say I don’t love soaking blood and jiggling titties, but I do also like to sit down and watch a solid film that tells a great story.

Burn Witch Burn is one of those films that has a solid story and acting, and for its time (the early sixties) is quite revolutionary in its treatment of the supernatural and it’s implication of rape.


When cynical college professor, Norman Taylor (Peter Wyngarde) discovers his wife Tansy (Janet Blair) has been practising witchcraft as she feared for his safety when they first moved to their new town, he demands she destroy all of her talismans and phylactery

After all the objects are destroyed, Taylor’s life takes a turn for the worse: he’s almost hit by a car, accused of the rape of a student and other mishaps, but can a man as sceptical as Taylor believe that such superstitions be true or is it all coincidence and his wife is simply, mad?

You’d better grab the film and find out!

This film was directed by Sidney Hayers, from a script by Richard Matheson and Charles Beaumont, based on the novel ‘Conjure Wife’ by Fritz Leiber and is a well acted and entertaining movie both about the practice of black magic and the scepticism of it.

This film looks great and is an interesting alternate look at ‘modern’ day Black Magic. It has some great of-it’s-day acting (by today’s standards it may be seen as occasionally stage-you or overwrought) and the special effects are what you would expect from an AIP film of this period, though it doesn’t rely on them to transmit its tale.

Is it as good as other films of its ilk like The Wicker Man or Blood on Satan’s Claw? No, but it is as entertaining as one of its contemporaries from a few years earlier, Night of the Demon.


Score: ***

Format: The review copy is the Australian Cinema Cult release on a region 4, NTSC disc. This approximately 90 minute film is presented in a satisfactory 1.85:1 widescreen with a stereo audio track. There is a very occasional pixelation of the image, but it is very rare.

The beginning of the film warns that it was completed from various sources and that the quality may be uneven, but I didn’t really find that too much. 

Score: ***


Extras: Only a trailer…  Not even scene selections!!

Score: **


WISIA: I have seen this film several times, and it will probably be on a high rewatch rotation as it’s easy to watch. I usually seem to throw it on when I don’t know what else to watch.

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