The Easter Bunny usually brings a good egg: the PCAACA conference. Virtual again this year for safety’s sake, many of the usual crowd are gathering to bring you great discussions about the popular culture you love. Here’s my schedule including the much-anticipated round table with pals:
I’m still digesting Archive 81 and need to check out the affiliated podcast. I’m excited about presenting on the too-often overlooked Hammer film:
Cut Me a Robe from Toe to Lobe: Ritual, Transformation, and the Persistence of Knowledge in The Witches (1966)
Often dismissed as ‘minor’ or ‘forgettable’ even by Hammer Film aficionados, the 1966 film based on the book by popular novelist Norah Lofts, The Devil’s Own (written under her pseudonym Peter Curtis), provides great meat for analysis of age and gender especially with respect to the portrayal of witchcraft. The recent Scream Factory re-release of the movie continues this trend with an audio commentary by filmmaker Ted Newsom, who disparages much of the film, including the appearance of the actors, and refers to Gwen and Stephanie (played by Joan Fontaine [then 49] and Kay Walsh ) as ‘old women’, adding that he thought Gwen was a lot older in the novel (she was 44). But the central issue of the film is also one derived from gender anxieties: older women only able to survive by despoiling the young AKA the ‘Vain Sorceress’ trope seen in witch films like Stardust, Excalibur, and Hocus Pocus. Yet the film differs from this trope by not focusing on the youthful beauty but rather on the overlooked and dismissed intellectual accomplishments of women and a desire to continue to effectively participate in the betterment of life. As Stephanie argues, ‘I know I could solve the most appalling problems!’ All she wants it the chance to live another life…
THANKS, MILDRED for going to the IU special collections and taking photos of the script for me!! An invaluable help it was. H/t Steve Bissette for inadvertently setting me on this path. Thanks too to Dan Curley for invaluable Latin consulting!