Cry of the Banshee (1970)





Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

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Movie Info

The inimitable Vincent Price puts an interesting spin on this otherwise pedestrian witch-hunt exercise -- a rehashing of Witchfinder General (aka The Conqueror Worm) and several of Roger Corman's numerous Poe variations from the previous decade. Here Price plays Edward Whitman, a corrupt, sadistic magistrate in 16th-century Ireland who puts a quick and deadly stop to the activities of a local Druidic coven... but not before the sect's leader Oona (Elisabeth Bergner) puts a curse on him and the Whitman family line, calling up a vengeful spirit known as a "sidhee" which takes flesh in the form of an otherwise mild-mannered stable boy (Patrick Mower). As swift and violent retribution works its way through the Whitman family, so does this film snowball toward its bizarre and muddled conclusion -- made all the more confounding by rather choppy editing. Just like Conqueror Worm and half a dozen others, this was fallaciously marketed by distributor American International Pictures as yet another adaptation of the works of Edgar Allan Poe -- as if AIP hadn't kicked Poe's corpse around enough in the '60s.
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American International Pictures


Vincent Price
as Lord Edward Whitman
Essy Persson
as Lady Patricia Whitman
Hugh Griffith
as Mickey
Patrick Mower
as Roderick
Hilary Heath
as Maureen
Carl Rigg
as Harry
Alden 'Stephen' Chase
as Sean Whitman
Marshall Jones
as Father Tom
Andrew McCullouch
as Bully Boy
Pamela Fairbrother
as Margaret Donald
Terry Martin
as Brander
Quinn O'Hara
as Witch Girl
Gertan Klauber
as Landlord
Peter Forest
as Party Man
Joyce Mandre
as Party Woman
Guy Deghy
as Party Guest
Jean Deady
as Naked Girl
Peter Benson
as Brander
Louis Selwyn
as Apprentice
Nancy Meckler
as Villager
Hugh Portnow
as Villager
Stephen Rea
as Villager
Dinah Stabb
as Villager
Tony Sibbald
as Villager
Neil Johnston
as Villager
Rowan Wylie
as Villager
Tim Thomas
as Villager
Ron Sahewk
as Villager
Maya Roth
as Villager
Philly Howell
as Villager
Guy Pierce
as Villager
Hilary Dwyer
as Maureen
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Critic Reviews for Cry of the Banshee

All Critics (2)

Lacking the style and the smarts of the similar Witchfinder General, this unpleasant outing merely vacillates between silliness and sadism.

Full Review… | February 20, 2016
Creative Loafing

Quote not available.

August 11, 2005

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.

Tim Salmons
Tim Salmons

Super Reviewer

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.

Aj V
Aj V

Super Reviewer

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=""]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.

Steve Miller
Steve Miller

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