#48 – Will O The Wisp

(1973, GB, 105 min) Dir Eric Conway Bryce. Cast Mark Eden, Virginia Wetherell, Patrick Magee.

A decent entry in the ‘rural horror’ genre from a Hammer stable on the wane. Madge and Patrick move to a nice little house in the country, all ivy up the walls, roses in the garden and vast spooky mist-shrouded marshes behind the garage. It’s the marshes that keeps Madge awake at night with the blue plumes of the titular spectral light that dance outside the bedroom window. Of course Patrick hasn’t a trouble sleeping at all but soon enough notices how strangely his wife is behaving and how tickled the locals are at their living by the marshes. “How’s the light, friend?” they ask in their unfriendly way, laughing around their rotting gums, “Keeping you up at night?” Then one night in the local tavern, at the end of his tether at the actions of his distracted wife, he is taken in the confidence of a local historian with huge sideburns who tells him all about the house’s prior owner, the so-called ‘Black Judge’ of the local court, who sentenced more men to hang than any other in the country. He points with his pipe to the portrait in the corner of a foul faced and beetle browed man. He died one night, says the man, when he wandered alone into the marshes. What is it that lies in this dark and sinister marsh and will it claim his Madge as well? Sturdily shot by perennial also-ran Bryce (also on the wane at this point in his career), it’s the shoestring budget and wooden actors that drag the film down but it’s spooky fun regardless.

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