Season of the Witch (1972 film)
|Season of the Witch|
Anchor Bay DVD Cover
|Directed by||George A. Romero|
|Produced by||Alvin Croft
|Written by||George A. Romero|
|Music by||Steve Gorn|
|Cinematography||George A. Romero|
|Edited by||George A. Romero|
|Distributed by||Jack H. Harris Enterprises
Anchor Bay Entertainment
|Running time||89 minutes
Season of the Witch, also known as Hungry Wives, and Jack's Wife, is George A. Romero's third film and second horror film. Filmed in 1971 and released in 1972, the film is about a housewife who becomes involved in witchcraft. The film was shot in Pittsburgh and the suburb of Forest Hills, Pennsylvania while most of it was shot in the home of the parents of Christine Forrest, a crewperson and actress whom Romero later married.
Romero has said that shooting the film was very trying, as they ran out of money during the production. While he praised the lead performance of Jan White as Joan Mitchell, Romero has stated that he felt this film needed a name cast to succeed. The director has expressed that this is the only one of his films that he would like to remake.
Joan Mitchell (Jan White) is the 39-year-old wife of a businessman, Jack Mitchell (Bill Thunhurst). They live in suburban Pittsburgh with their 19-year-old daughter Nikki (Joedda McClain), a student. Joan is unhappy and bored with her housewife role. Jack is busy, domineering, and violent, embarking on long business trips every week. Joan has been seeing a psychotherapist because of her recurring dreams about her husband controlling her. He makes repeated references to needing to "kick some ass"—a colleague's, his own child's, his wife's. Eventually, he strikes Joan in the face.
Joan and her friends learn about a new woman in the neighborhood named Marion Hamilton (Virginia Greenwald) who practices witchcraft. Prompted by curiosity, Joan and one of her friends, Shirley (Anne Muffley), drive over to Marion's house one night for a Tarot reading. Marion is the leader of a secret witches' coven.
Joan and Shirley drive home to Joan's house, where they meet Gregg (Raymond Laine), a student teacher at Nikki's college (with whom Nikki has a very casual sexual relationship). The four drink and talk. Gregg shows an interest in Joan, who rebuffs him. Joan throws Gregg out of her house after he cruelly tricks Shirley into believing that she has smoked pot. After taking Shirley home, Joan returns home to hear Nikki and Gregg having sex. Turned on, she quietly goes to her bedroom and begins touching herself until Nikki walks in on her.
The next day, a furious Nikki leaves without telling anybody where she is going, and soon afterward Jack leaves for a one week business trip, with Joan feeling more lonely than ever. Joan buys a book about witchcraft. She conjures a spell to make Gregg attracted to her, and soon they are engaged in an affair. She also has increasingly terrifying nightmares, in which she is attacked by an intruder wearing a Satanic mask.
As she explores witchcraft further, practicing rituals and researching spells, Joan's world continues to change. The police tell Joan they have found Nikki in Buffalo, New York and that she will be coming home in three or four days. After one last sexual encounter with Gregg, Joan tells him she does not want to see him again.
After another terrifying nightmare involving the masked intruder, Joan shoots and kills her husband, who has unexpectedly returned home early from his trip. Whether this event is accidental or intentional is not revealed.
Joan is initiated into Marion's coven in an elaborate and campy ritual. The language used by the women makes reference to treasuring each coven member as part of the sisterhood.
Cleared of her husband's death which was ruled an accident, Joan attends a party with her friends. Prompted by a compliment on her beautiful and youthful appearance, she quietly reveals that she is a witch. She smiles wryly when people around her refer to as "Mrs. Mitchell", or simply "Jack's wife".
For its original distribution the studio edited Romero's cut from 130 minutes to 89 minutes, and this was the only print available for many years. In 2005 Anchor Bay Entertainment released an extended version running 103 minutes.
The film was originally released in the U.S. as Hungry Wives and in the U.K. as Jack's Wife. It was also issued under the title Season of the Witch because the 1966 song of the same name by Donovan appears in the film's soundtrack.
Season of the Witch was the original title of the Martin Scorsese film Mean Streets (1973), in which the main character, referring to their bar hangout, says, "And I wouldn't call it Tony's Place or Charlie's Place…I'd call it something like Season of the Witch… get it?"
In October 1982, it was re-released as "Season of the Witch" in the United States on the same weekend as "Halloween III: Season of the Witch," apparently in an attempt to cash in on the potential success of the popular slasher series.