You'll gasp! You'll wince! You'll shudder!
While working on his PhD in Chicken Dancing, a graduate student from the University of Happenstance decides to visit the Fatherland for some kraut cramming. So he makes his way down to Luckenbach, Texas—but not because he wants to hook up with Waylon, Willie, and the boys. Nope, he wants to hang out with the indigenous German (?) population and hunt for The Naked Witch. After a traditional southwestern meal of jalapeño wienerschnitzel, he gets a hold of the hex hag's diary and realizes her cursed corpse is buried in a local cemetery (fancy that). He makes a late night journey to the graveside, removes an enchanted hunk of hickory from the dead demoness' dorsal area, and after some incredibly poor special effects, our reconstituted potion thrower starts strutting around Southfork in her horribly unattractive birthday suit (apparently, everything materialized perfectly on our re-enlivened evildoer except her grapenut-sized mammaries). And then, just for added fun, she starts killing the ancestors of those who condemned her in the past.
Ted Watkins is a Vietnam vet who luckily survived his stint in that awful jungle hell, making it back to the States in one piece—physically and mentally. That is, until he cashes in his war bonds and buys Haunted Island down in the Louisiana Swamp. Before you can whistle "Amos Moses," our guerilla combat expert is left for dead by three bog buffoons who want some ill gotten gain for their homicidal tendencies. But as luck would have it, this spooky atoll is also the home of Damballa, an exotic, near naked wood witch who is constantly on the make for burly cadavers. She agrees to help Ted get revenge on the GI bill gangsters if he will be her living dead love slave. After watching her gyrate, all swarthy and sweaty in her bewitched birthday suit, several parts of Ted agree. The killers meet the big muddy as our hip war hero prepares for an afterlifetime of exploring Damballa's Crypt of Dark Secrets.
With a title like The Naked Witch, you basically know what you're getting from the outset: a little sorcery, a little salaciousness, a lot of skin. However, this Larry Buchanan oddity from 1964 circumvents all those expectations, becoming a weird travelogue and Discovery Channel like discussion of the cloistered, Oktoberfest worshipping black forest freaks of Luckenbach, Texas. It begins with Gary Owens, narrating a rather Time-Life tome overview of witches and witchery. Then it's on to the Teutonic town itself. Like Santa's Village as imagined by the Brothers Grimm and Hummel, the citizens here look like Aryan gnomes waiting for a deranged art student to come along and lead them into a World War. They smoke long, curved pipes (decades before Sir Ian, or Jethro Tull, made them fashionable) and speak in the broken mean mumble that sounds more Swedish than master racists. But the decidedly lederhosen aspects of The Naked Witch are not the only things that will leave you flummoxed. As the bare broom-sticker herself, Ms. Libby West's less than ample assets (which are more like rotting apples) will induce enough wincing to permanently embed your crow's feet. While not completely unattractive in her harsh, high arched eyebrow Maybelline faux beauty, she has this undeniably odd chest that will have even the most chauvinistic swine scratching his hindquarters in hormone-dissipating disbelief and dissatisfaction. Amazingly the film distributors seem to have agreed, since most of her countryside bodkin romp is obstructed by large black bars and ink smudges, the better to cover those convex chestnuts.
Thank goodness for Maureen Riddley and her tanned, glistening glamazon girlpower in Crypt of Dark Secrets. Everything that our pale, pasty fraulein foists upon our sensibilities in The Naked Witch is curvaceous, vivacious and bootylicious here. If you're looking for semi-erotic coffin lapdancing or ever wondered what Sacheen Littlefeather would look like in the buff with glowing cartoon eyes, this is the film for you. When it comes to ethereal exploitation star power, our reigning queen of the Cher Hair Bunch has it in spades. As a narrative, the Crypt of Dark Secrets (in which, by the way, there is not a single crypt, secret, or recognizable level of darkness) tells an entertaining yarn about a bunch of redneck boudin eaters who rob a Vietnam vet of his Agent Orange settlement, only to meet an untimely patch of quicksand at the hands of Damballa (whose name the cast seems to have trouble with, constantly referring to her as Dumb-bella). Apparently, the great beyond is dangerously low on laidback hunky army men, so the bayou bee-atch resorts to provocative pentagram dancing to round up a little paranormal pickle of her own. And typical of any female, living or living dead, she reanimates your corpse with the prospect of everlasting life, and suddenly you're going steady for all eternity. Talk about a ball and chain!
The DVD presentation of these two films (from those "never say enough extras" mavens at Something Weird Video) is wonderful. Both are given remastered full screen transfers that, while occasionally faded and age defected, look pretty darn good. We get a commentary track from director Larry Buchanan on The Naked Witch that explains, in great detail, his career and the rationale behind the film, including those interesting "censorship" bars. Additionally, there is another separate "interview" track (read: something way too ancillary to be considered an actual commentary) by Claude Alexander, an old-fashioned roadshow impresario who explains his career (minimal) involvement with the film and the director. Then there are the dozens of TV and theatrical trailers, as well as other voodoo/witchcraft oriented shorts. They all start out virtually the same way: members of the African American branch of the Screen Actors Guild lower themselves to play barely dressed "natives" complete with nose and hair bones. A pair of hands bangs on the bongos and various strippers/"dancers" undulate. Only a few disrobe. We also witness an extraordinarily weird featurette for something called The Hot Pearl Snatch, which might have something to do with white bwana robbing tribeswomen of their coveted sacred oyster stones, or may just be an excuse to watch a pathetic dirty old man beg a buxom beauty for a little opalescent action. Combined with two galleries filled with comic and press release wonderstuff, The Naked Witch / Crypt of Dark Secrets is another great SWV title. But be warned. You too will have nightmares after watching these movies. It takes a filmgoer with a particularly strong constitution to view Libby Hall's hobbled hooters and not experience vivid R.E.M. terrors. Ewww!
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Something Weird Video
• Commentary by Director Larry Buchanan on The Naked Witch
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