I never heard of this nifty gem of a short until I saw it, but it’s apparently quite big with Gen X. I can see why: a precursor to Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore and Scooby Doo with Bewitched and The Addams Family thrown in, it’s about a single mother (Anna Strasberg) who skips town (Manhattan) in her VW Bug with her young son, Nicky (Roger Morgan), and buys a dilapidated old Victorian mansion in the boonies for cheap. Real cheap: $400 cheap. Turns out, there’s a catch: the place is haunted by a gloomy and depressed 300-year old witch (Hermione Gingold) who’s given up on the world.
Adapted from the book Old Black Witch by Wende and Harry Devlin, screenwriter and director Gerald Herman turns in something unintentionally impressive. I can see why this is such a hit with members of my generation. Aside from a few nouveau social issues for the time (a single parent and a vaguely gay little boy) and the mysterious untold backstory of this mother-son team, Winter of the Witch is really fucking weird. What kid’s story mixes the occult and “magic pancakes” laced with something no one will identify? The damned pancakes make everyone who eats them happy, so… The quality of the film is cheap and eerie, adding to the mood. Plus, Burgess Meredith narrates.
Winter of the Witch is roughly the length of a sitcom episode, which makes me think it was a pilot that didn’t get picked up. Regardless, I love it! See for yourself below.
(Music Box) B+
Music Box of Horrors