Demon Witch Child is a 1975 Spanish horror feature film directed by Amando de Ossorio, best known for his Blind Dead series of films.
Starring Marián Salgado, Julián Mateos, Fernando Sancho and Kali Hansa, the film is generally judged by one of two camps – those who see it simply as one of the slew of post-Exorcist cash-ins and those who see it something of a minor classic from one of the more overlooked of Europe’s genre directors.
Titled La Endemoniada (which translates as ‘the cursed’, or ‘the damned’), the film has been released on DVD by Code Red as part of a double-bill with Help Me… I’m Possessed!
In remotest Spain, a witch is ransacking a church in order to obtain relics for her coven’s Black Mass. The local police close in on the old crone and add child snatching to her list of crimes, prompting much cackling until the police threaten her with a truth serum injection, at which point, rather unexpectedly, she throws herself out of the police station window, killing herself.
Decidedly more attractive witch (Hansa, also seen in de Ossorio’s own Night of the Sorcerers), vows to avenge her partner in crime by cursing the police inspector (Italian Western regular, Sancho) and giving his young daughter, Susan (Salgado, who also pops up in Who Can Kill a Child?), a cursed talisman, which she hides inside her teddy bear – just their little secret, you understand.
Though initially coming across as a rather innocuous bunch of loons in the woods, the witches soon reveal themselves as extremely evil-hearted and Susan’s curse soon takes effect, changing her from a sweet little girl (actually, the least convincing sweet little child since Peter Bark in Burial Ground) to a levitating, (mildly) swearing, baby-killing maniac.
A doubting priest (Mateos, also in The Cold Eyes of Fear) enters the fray but will he have the faith and strength to lift the curse and stop the witches’ mayhem?
In fairness, Demon Witch Child would have sufficed as a three-word synopsis. However, what de Ossorio regularly lacks in narrative and the ability to harness acting talent, he again makes up for in genuine creepiness and an often startling gloom, right up until the final frame. The slender budget inevitably makes the effects look shaky, especially the levitation scene but also adds a strange otherworldliness to Salgado’s make-up and the scene in which the old hag’s soul inhabits Susan’s body.
Though centered on witchcraft rather than the demonic possession of The Exorcist, there is a connection between the two films, with Salgado dubbing Linda Blair’s voice in the Spanish language edition of the more famous film. The film is, by turn, ridiculous and intriguing, some scenes seemingly having no bearing on plot and the priest’s moral and religious dilemmas being more Jeremy Kyle than a search for divine truth.
Daz Lawrence, MOVIES & MANIA
” …de Ossorio does a good job of getting what he needs from the cast and does an even better job of putting it all together to make a pretty compelling and entertaining movie. Again, there was a lot of dialogue problems though, and that could be chalked up to the poor dubbing and the budget was obviously minimal, but Demon Witch Child stands as a good example of making the best out of what you have.” The Telltale Mind
“Despite a truly awful English dub track, Demon Witch Child boasts a handful of memorably grotesque horror sequences that truly come out of left field. No age group is safe at any time, and adult males get some of the nastiest treatment here…” Mondo Digital
“Imagine how hilarious it is watching really old people say naughty or filthy things. This is sort of like that. But, different. It’s funny. It’s also a little creepy. Funny + creepy = awesome.” Bleeding Skull!
Thanks to Serious Jacksonville Horror for the drive-in ad mat