Necromancy (1972)

necromancy poster 1972 movie
6.0 Overall Score
Story: 4/10
Acting: 6/10
Visual: 7/10

Some interesting visuals

Predictable story, Rosemary's Baby rip off

Movie Info

Movie Name:  Necromancy

Studio:  Compass/Zenith International

Genre(s):  Horror

Release Date(s):  September 20, 1972

MPAA Rating:  PG

necromancy orson welles

Have a drink with Orson Welles!

Lori Brandon (Pamela Franklin) and her husband Frank (Michael Ontkean) have just suffered the loss of a pregnancy, but a surprise job offer for Frank in a small California town of Lilith could mean a big break. Despite Lori’s reservations, Frank accepts the job working for Mr. Cato (Orson Welles) at his toy factory, but Lori and Frank quickly learn that Cato and the people of Lilith are practicing witches. As Lori begins to see a mysterious boy, she begins to realize the reach of Cato and his followers, but it already could be too late.

Directed by Bert I. Gordon (who cowrote the script with Gail March), Necromancy is a supernatural occult horror film. The film was released to mixed to negative reviews and reedited and rereleased in 1983 as The Witching.

necromancy dead kid

He’s just chilling…

Rosemary’s Baby was a big hit, and that is an obvious influence on the film. The themes of Rosemary’s Baby carried over into Ira Levin’s other big novel The Stepford Wives, and this film surprisingly beat The Stepford Wives to the punch (they both were released in September of 1972).

Rosemary’s Baby took the idea of a cult grooming a victim in a small scale, and Necromancy takes the story to a bigger level. Not only is Lori caught up in a personal battle involving her husband, but it is her against the whole town…even people who appear to be her friend are against her (and those who don’t fit in are killed). While it resembles Rosemary’s Baby in general, there is a whole conformity storyline that feels like Lori’s being indoctrinated to since the witches aren’t practicing in the shadows.

necromancy sacrifice pamela franklin

These guys know how to party!

The cast is rather strong. Orson Welles allegedly just took the role for the pay, but it does fit in with the themes of many of later films (like magic and illusion). Pamela Franklin is good and believable as the woman trapped in the web (she also met her future husband Harvey Jason in the film). Michael Ontkean is the least likeable character in the movie since he doesn’t seem to need much convincing to turn against his wife (who has just lost a child).

The movie for the most part is rather typical, but it does get more experimental at points. There are some strange vision scenes which have you questioning if it is an illusion or if it really occurring. Most of these things tie to Lori’s powers of foresight and some are quite effective.

Though it is predictable, and sometimes feels like a long episode of Night Gallery, Necromancy was kind of entertaining. It is relatively short and doesn’t take much of a commitment to watch quickly. If you are a fan of the witchcraft genre, the movie will provide few surprises, but it will also be a solid entry…plus, Orson Welles, even bad Orson Welles, is generally entertaining.

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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