Independent Artists, UK, 1962
AKA: Night of the Eagle
Director: Sidney Hayers
Writer: Fritz Leiber Jr., Charles Beaumont, Richard Matheson, George Baxt
Cast: Peter Wyngarde, Janet Blair, Margaret Johnston, Anthony Nicholls, Colin Gordon, Kathleen Byron, Reginald Beckwith, Jessica Dunning, Norman Bird, Judith Stott, Bill Mitchell, Paul Frees, George Roubicek, Frank Singuineau, Gary Woolf
Burn, Witch, Burn is based on Conjure Wife, the first novel by Fritz Leiber Jr. The same novel has also been filmed as Weird Woman, directed by Reginald Le Borg in 1944, and as Witches’ Brew, directed by Richard Shorr and Herbert L. Strock in 1980.
Prof. Norman Taylor is teaching psychology at the Hempnell Medical Collage. He is well respected by his students, he has a beautiful house, a small cottage at the sea, a loving wife, Tansy, and is considered for a place at the board. He is very successful. So successful that on bridge night at his and Tansy’s one of his fellow teachers asks if he had sold his soul to the devil.
Norman is a firm disbeliever in anything occult, so when he finds out his wife has been practicing Witchcraft he is shocked. She claims witchcraft is the source of a lot of his success, and that there are people who tries to hurt him out of envy, and she is afraid of what would happen if her protective spells wasn’t there. Norman won’t hear anything about it and makes her burn all artefacts having to do with witchcraft.
Next week Normans luck seems to have turned. He almost gets run over by a van, and when he gets to work he is confronted by one of his students who is upset and jealous because his girlfriend, also a student of Normans, has whispered Normans name when he told her he loved her. He now believe his girlfriend and their teacher is having an affair. Then Norman is called to a meeting and learns that the same girl claims he has forced himself on her. When he gets back to his office the boyfriend is back and pulls a gun on him.
When Norman gets home he gets a tape in the mail. It’s a recording of a lecture he’s given on superstition. When he plays the tape he is getting affected by something. Tansy turns the tape recorder off, but the phone rings and the effect continues through the phone line. Someone or something is at the door making hideous sounds and trying to get in but everything is back to normal when Tansy manages to hang up. She is convinced someone is trying to kill Norman by ways of black magic.
Next day Tansy is gone. She has left a message for Norman explaining that she intends to sacrifice her self so he can be safe. Norman sets out to find her before she does something horrible, but will he find her in time. and who can he trust?
It’s pretty obvious early on in the film who is behind everything, but is it really witchcraft or is it just manipulating Normans mind? Either way it’s a suspenseful story.
My verdict: 5 out of 10.