NECROMANCY aka THE WITCHING (1972) Reviews and overview

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‘Life to the dead and Death to the living.’

Necromancy is a 1972 American horror film co-written and directed by Bert I. Gordon. Co-produced by Bert I. Gordon, Gail March and Jeffrey M. Sneller.

The movie stars Orson Welles, Pamela Franklin, Lee Purcell and Michael Ontkean.


In 1983, the film was released on VHS as The Witching with additional unclothed scenes (shock!) that include Brinke Stevens.


A re-edited TV version was re-titled Rosemary’s Disciples. Confusingly, the film has also been released as The Toy Factory.


In the small American town of Lilith, a strange and sinister man, Mr Cato (Orson Welles), owns a toy factory and wields extraordinary power. The townsfolk indulge in weird rituals in their pursuit of necromancy, to bring the dead back to life.

Against this disturbing background a young woman, Lori (Pamela Franklin), becomes the human catalyst. She is married to Frank, Cato’s newest employee, and holds the key between life and death. But the witches’ coven is determined to use Lori to bring back Cato’s dead son…


“Though it is predictable, and sometimes feels like a long episode of Night Gallery, Necromancy was kind of entertaining. It is relatively short and doesn’t take much of a commitment to watch quickly. If you are a fan of the witchcraft genre, the movie will provide few surprises, but it will also be a solid entry… plus, Orson Welles, even bad Orson Welles, is generally entertaining.” Basement Rejects

“Though blandly competent, the biggest issue here is the general lack of creativity coupled with direction that does little visually to perk things up. There are next to no surprises plot-wise, suspense and shocks are virtually nonexistent, the editing is awful and Lori’s endless “visions” become tiresome.” The Bloody Pit of Horror

” …the characters in Necromancy are as forgettable as the storyline. To its credit, Necromancy has quasi-atmospheric photography, a tasty electronic score […] and a couple of trippy dream/hallucination sequences. Yet these elements aren’t nearly reason enough to watch the movie, especially since the slumming Welles gives an absurd performance complete with a ridiculous fake nose and an unidentifiable accent.” Every ’70s Movie

“It’s talky and dull until it gets near the end, where it starts getting messy and confused […] There’s a scene with rats in it, which shows that Bert I. Gordon had seen Willard. Orson Welles is on hand; I hope he took home a good paycheck.” Fantastic Movie Musings and Ramblings

“The occult elements play in well and we get to see a host of spooky items and practices, which is cool. Anytime you can have Orson Welles as a practitioner of the dark arts, it’s a good time. Not much memorable dialogue to speak of, as the movie at least attempts to be serious and mostly succeeds. Necromancy isn’t crazy from a gonzo, over the top perspective, but it does have oppressive atmosphere and some pretty wacky sh*t involved.” Marc Fusion

”’s always fun to see Franklin strut her stuff in a horror film. Welles is clearly cashing a paycheck here, but he’s never dull  (to say the least) […] Overall it’s a deliberately paced but interesting little occult shocker that works up to a respectably nightmarish level in the final ten minutes or so, and even the hokey twist ending is pulled off with more panache than usual.” Mondo Digital

“Looking like a TV movie for the most part […] there were very few thrills, if any, to be gained when everything was so predictable: you more or less had the measure of Lori’s peril within nanoseconds of seeing Franklin in those opening titles that featured her screaming in a void, therefore suspense was at a minimum.” The Spinning Image

“They did a fairly good job with the material, but the show belonged to Pamela Franklin and to a lesser extent, the legendary Orson Welles. There are always what-if’s in every movie, and here, it would have been nice to see what the actors could have done with a stronger script if it had been available, not to mention a general improvement overall. The rest of the cast is forgettable…” The Telltale Mind

“An oft muddled plot is more than forgiven thanks to a good performance from horror regular Franklin; but beware: funky Welles is on a different planet altogether […] Best scene: the terrifying and downbeat ending that only proves one thing: never help an evil sorcerer.” The Terror Trap

“Overly talky and expository, The Witching is nevertheless often messy and incomprehensible. But for all the bad acting and dialogue and loose plotting and pointlessly arty cinematography and editing, it is the dislikably whiney and overly helpless heroine, Lori (Franklin), which becomes the most annoying aspect of the movie.” A Wasted Life




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Cast and characters:

Orson Welles … Mr Cato
Pamela Franklin … Lori Brandon
Lee Purcell … Priscilla
Michael Ontkean … Frank Brandon
Harvey Jason … Doctor Jay
Lisa James … Georgette
Sue Bernard … Nancy

Filming locations:

Los Gatos, California
Samuel Goldwyn Studios – 7200 Santa Monica Boulevard, West Hollywood, California (studio)

Filming dates:

5th October 1970 to February 1971


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