Legend of the Witches directed by Malcolm Leigh

Back in 1970 this allegedly ‘serious’ documentary about witchcraft sneaked a lot of full frontal nudity past the British censor and was then screened in sex cinemas for the enjoyment of the dirty raincoat brigade. It acts as a kind of companion piece to Derek Ford’s Secret Rites, since both feature Alex Sanders (as, indeed, does Angeli bianchi, angeli neri AKA Witchcraft 70, but that’s an Italian mondo movie not an English ‘documentary’). As the self-styled King of the Swingers (oops, sorry, I mean witches), Sanders camps it up as much here as he does elsewhere; unfortunately there’s a lot less of his rib-ticklingly softly spoken voice than in Ford’s short.
If the late Alex Sanders actually had any ‘occult powers’ then I’m The Queen of Sheba (and no doubt there are plenty of Alexandrian Wiccans out there prepared to assert that I was indeed Sheba in a previous incarnation).  Nonetheless, Alex and his coven of nubile young wenches (there are an equal number of considerably less attractive men) dancing naked around fires and performing (simulated) sex magick, are a psychedelic groove sensation. The bad news is that this movie is 72 minutes long and way too much of its running time is devoted to other shit.
Before we get to the self-evidently fake stuff with Alex, there is a load of Margaret Murrayesque bollocks about the supposed survival of the ancient pagan religions of Europe right through the Christian era to the modern day, which is delivered as a voice-over to a few interesting and innumerable dull visual illustrations. Anyone who knows anything about the actual history of European witch trials, will appreciate that the claims of Murray and her followers are complete cobblers. Less informed viewers may take these claims at face value, since the voice-over sounds authoritative, but believe me (actually don’t, go and read up on it), it isn’t!
Anyway, back to Alex, he was obviously an obliging bloke who’d do whatever it took to get into a film. So here you have a witch initiation ceremony that mirrors aspects of Christian baptism (because the alleged survival of the ‘old religion’ is Malcolm Leigh’s obsession) and it looks rather different to the way the Sanders’ coven does supposedly the same thing for Derek Ford. That said, there is still plenty of nudity, bondage, whipping, and other borderline sexual thrills – so if you belong to the real army of the night (the dirty raincoat brigade) fear not, you’ll get your jollies! However, things get even groovier when we move onto scrying, where we have psychedelic hypnotic-patterns flashed across the screen – it’s a total trip, and wouldn’t have looked out of place in a hip 1960s horror flick like The Sorcerers.
Since director Malcolm Leigh is obsessed with the parallels between Christian and pagan rituals, Sanders also obliges him with a black mass; except, of course, this looks nothing like any black mass you’ve ever seen (such as the one in Ray Laurent’s Satanis, a 1970 documentary about Anton LaVey and the Church of Satan). Alex Sanders may be a showbiz sell-out but he’s both sweeter and considerably less of a flake than LaVey. While LaVey appears to have been no more than a huckster, these days so-called Satanism (in reality it is just Christianity in a mildly inverted form) seems to act as a magnet for kiddie-fiddlers and related low-life scum. Sanders, by way of contrast, is great entertainment. It’ s well worth grabbing a copy of Legend of the Witches just for the footage of Alex and his coven acting out their fantasies for the entertainment of dirty old men!
And while you’re at it don’t forget to check – www.stewarthomesociety.org – you know it makes (no) sense!


Comment by Zen Master K on 2009-11-19 10:40:49 +0000

All nude occult rituals are like a groove sensation, but a solid course of Scientology will do you a lot more good!

Comment by The Real Tessie on 2009-11-19 10:42:11 +0000

That’s more like it buster! You thought you were ventriloquising me, but now I’m ventriloquising you! Scientology made a man out of me, erm, I mean Scientology made a woman out of me!

Comment by Olexi on 2009-11-19 11:02:57 +0000

need more of this stuff

Comment by Simon on 2009-11-19 13:33:30 +0000

I’m all for naked, fire leaping youth.

Comment by Simon, King Of The Witches on 2009-11-19 14:21:52 +0000

There is a 113 min edition of this film….

Comment by The ghost on the coast on 2009-11-19 19:16:19 +0000

Alex Sanders spent his final days in Bexhill on Sea. Just like John Logie Baird. Sanders does not have a Muswell Hill pub named after him, and Baird doesn’t appear in a film called “The Occult Experience”. Uncanny, or what….?

Comment by Alan Wicca on 2009-11-19 21:33:24 +0000


Comment by The ghost on the coast on 2009-11-19 21:45:02 +0000

I second that emoticon. And feel strangely soiled in doing so. Ugh. Where did I stash those wet-wipes?

Comment by arse on 2009-11-19 23:06:31 +0000

Having read through the comments on these pages, any sane person can see that Mobile-Home has all the big hitters covering up for him, from the Barclay Brothers via Margaret Thatcher to Henry Kissinger himself! It must be obvious by now that Mobile-Home is Mister Big! He controls the conspiracy to destroy the world, and is in fact an alien from outer space. Unless Mobile-Home is stopped now it could be the end of life on earth as we know it!
oops – sorry – wrong blog

Comment by arse on 2009-11-19 23:07:22 +0000

How do you know they’re not fake!

Comment by Simon on 2009-11-19 23:10:11 +0000

I’d love to get Fi*n* out her dancing around naked with me at some point before I die. Or anyone…
…Basil Brush?

Comment by The ghost on the coast on 2009-11-19 23:28:24 +0000

Is it wise to take arse at face value? If not, is there an established arse/face exchange rate I should refer to?
Yours –
A worried 1950s tourist.

Comment by The ghost on the coast on 2009-11-19 23:43:06 +0000

And if not, does anybody know the conversion rate of Arse to Elbow?

Comment by mistertrippy on 2009-11-20 01:46:48 +0000

The conversion rate? it’s about two elbows to one arse right now, but if you’ve got enough bare-faced cheek set it at three!
Likewise, there are reports of 113 minute version of Legend of the Witches on the web… but no one seems to have seen it. So does it actually exist or is it just a rumour? If it does exist I rather suspect it must be a snore fest coz the 72 minute version could only gain from being trimmed further… just give us Alex and his coven, it’s all I need!

Comment by International Communist Coven on 2009-11-20 02:03:00 +0000

nudity + workers councils = communist revolution!

Comment by Wiccan Revolution on 2009-11-20 02:14:22 +0000

Get your kit off for a comrade! Without free love and community of sexual partners there is no communist revolution!

Comment by Doris Stokes on 2009-11-23 20:04:44 +0000

You young people need to apppreciate the value of a partner for life instead of alll this shilly-shallying around with multiple jezebels. It’s unholy!

Comment by mistertrippy on 2009-11-23 22:10:15 +0000

Would you like to come to one of our “car key” parties Doris? You’d change your mind about this stuff if you tried it out!

Comment by john walters on 2009-11-24 23:18:47 +0000

now on cinemageddon

Published At