I am now the proud owner of my very own DVD copy of George Romero's overlooked '72 film, "Season of the Witch." The movie, originally titled "Jack's Wife," chronicles the story of an insecure, borderline-abused housewife named Joan. Approaching 40, she's ignored by her boorish husband, and feels irrelevant compared to her modern, "hip" daughter. Joan seems to have little outlet but weekly bridge games and drinking, and her closest friend is an alcoholic older woman who fills her head with horror stories about aging.
That is, until Joan takes up Witchcraft. After her friend Shirley mentions knowing a "real Witch," Joan is intrigued and the two women end up visiting the Witch, Marion, for a Tarot reading. Simultaneously frightened and captivated by how accurate the reading is, Joan buys a book (which we will get back to in a minute) on Witchcraft and hits up the antique store and organic foods shop to pick up the tools and herbs she will need to cast her spells. This delightful little segment, which takes place in a montage set to Donovan's "Season of the Witch" tune, brings back memories of myself as a young teenager, having to shop at Whole Foods and the thrift stores trying to find herbs, oils, cauldrons, and such as there were very few Witch shops then, and no internet to order from.
The movie takes an interesting approach to her Witchcraft (which is presented in a very realistic, straightforward manner.) Does she have real powers, or not? Do the ensuing events (some of which are either tragic or fortunate, depending on how you look at it) occur because of Joan's spells, or are they merely coincidence? By avoiding the typical Hollywood thing of either making the magic totally unrealistic (no lighting bolts from the fingertips here) or else showing it as dangerous and Satanic, Joan's actions seem completely believable. The film isn't perfect, and drags in some places, but it's still highly recommended if you want to catch a glimpse of Witchcraft before the modern "McWicca" fad (just be sure NOT to get one of the inferior, heavily edited versions of the film, in which so much is cut out that the plot is destroyed.)
Oh, and the book I mentioned from the film? In the movie, it's called "To Be A Witch" but, to those in the know, it's actually a BARELY fictionalized copy of "Mastering Witchcraft." It's all there, with Joan drawing the runes on her magical tools, consecrating her knife with salt and water, and drawing the talismans. Even the spells she says are more or less the same, with only a word or two altered. I've heard that Romero had some friends who were Gardnerian Wiccans or other kinds of Witches, and it really shows in how accurate his portrayal is. It's definitely a treat to see "Mastering Witchcraft" (about which there has been a lot of talk lately) show up in some a prominent position in a film, even in a fictionalized form.