Cry of the Banshee (1970)
Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.
as Lord Edward Whitman
as Lady Patricia Whitma...
as Sean Whitman
as Father Tom
as Bully Boy
as Margaret Donald
as Witch Girl
as Party Man
as Party Woman
as Party Guest
as Naked Girl
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Critic Reviews for Cry of the Banshee
Lacking the style and the smarts of the similar Witchfinder General, this unpleasant outing merely vacillates between silliness and sadism.
Audience Reviews for Cry of the Banshee
Although this movie is probably considered the retarded cousin of the other Vincent Price witch trial movie The Witchfinder General, it's not too horrible. Well, it kind of is and it isn't. I don't know how accurate Cry of the Banshee is to any of Edgar Allen Poe's work, if at all, but it's not completely terrible. It does have Vincent Price being a completely evil bastard, which he was very good at portraying, a young & pretty Hilary Dwyer, and even a young Stephen Rea. It tries to be both a slasher movie and a revenge movie all in one go, which doesn't really meld that well. It's sort of boring for the most part because Lord Whitman, his sons and his colleagues are such a terrible people that you just don't care. The revenge part could work, but by the time the murders start taking place, the characters do a 180 and I felt poised to sympathize with them. In other words, it's a train wreck, but it's an interesting train wreck (I'll give it that). So all in all, it's not a very good film but it's a good example of what not to do with these particular kinds of story mechanics.
I often get this one mixed up with witchfinder general, but this one has a better story, I know. Although the story is better, the only good actor is Price, and the others are annoying. It's not that bad, I just didn't like it much.
Cry of the Banshee
Starring: Vincent Price, Hilary Dwyer, Patrick Mower, and Elizabeth Bergner
Director: Gordon Hessler
When the ruthless, psychopathic Lord Edward Whitman (Price) has a coven of witches massacred, the leader (Bergner) escapes and calls forth a Banshee that will visit death and destruction upon the entire Whitman line, until it exists no more.
Every so often, a movie comes along where every character in it is so unlikeable or so one-dimensional and flat that the viewer really doesn't care what happens to them, and has no one in particular to root for or identify with. "Cry of the Banshee" is one of those films.
The writing here is so bad that not even Vincent Price, who usually manages to bring a fresh feel to even the corniest villian, and some degree of twisted charm to even the worst psychopathic murderer, can tease anything from the character of Edward Whitman other than "this is a bloodthirsty upperclass twit in Elizabethan England who gets off on killing buxom peasant wenches suspected of performing pagan rituals in the woods."
The opposite side of the story--the coven leader Oona--is a performance that stands as a tribute to embarrasingly bad overacting. Then there's the story problem that her "revenge" is as broad and uncalled for as the atrocities of Lord Edward's random witch-hunts.
The most glaring example of how bad this movie is the complete illiteracy of anyone involved with the production side. A simple consultation of a dictionary to find the defintion of "banshee" would have gone a long way to making this movie a little less dumb.
The film [i]almost[/i] redeems itself at the end with a nicely executed twist (even if the sudden shift in Price's character was a little odd) and there's some honest-to-god horror to be found there, as opposed to simple sadism and brutality, but it's too little and too late. By then, "Cry of the Banshee" is firmly in the Bad category. (There are worse--and director Hessler is responsible for some them, such as "[url="http://www.rottentomatoes.com/vine/journal_view.php?journalid=245672&entryid=253500&view=public"]Scream and Scream Again[/url]"--but there are also far, far better.)
Trivia: The opening titles sequence was by Terry Gilliam of "Monte Python" and "Time Bandits" fame. It's pretty nifty and more creative than "Cry of the Banshee" probably deserves.
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