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Legend of the Witches (1970) & Secret Rites (1971) [DVD + Blu-ray)

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Featuring the only footage in existence of the infamous “King of Wicca,” Alex Sanders, who uses this documentary to guide us through his coven.

Part Mondo movie, part countercultural artefact Secret Rites (1971) this strange mid-length ‘documentary’ by exploitation director Derek Ford lifts the lid on witchcraft in 1970s Notting Hill.

Online since 2010 it is one of the fastest-growing and most respected music-related publications on the net. Like Derek Ford, Legend of the Witches director Malcolm Leigh will be best remembered as a sexploitationeer. It comes with a collection of extras that will predominantly appeal to scholars in the field of cultural history or people with an interest in cultural history and witchcraft. Providing a very 70s psychedelic sound, the music fits brilliantly with the performance of the rituals within the film. The 103 third parties who use cookies on this service do so for their purposes of displaying and measuring personalized ads, generating audience insights, and developing and improving products.

Sanders and his wife Maxine, who is also active in the coven, are real Wiccans but Penny comes across like an actor. It follows the tale of a young man given a fiddle by an old hag, and how his magical music enchants the people he meets. Asked his opinion on what we have just seen, the self-styled King of the Witches dismisses it as ‘a lot of rubbish’, before complaining about how risible many of the commonly held myths about witchcraft can be. We are a fly on the wall for the next series of rituals carried out by Sanders and the High Priestess.Before a minute is on the clock, he has managed to notch up some full frontal nudity accompanied by a gasp! These were said to include healing people of warts by “wishing them on someone else, who’s already ugly. Once the two candidates are initiated, we are given more opportunities to watch the filming of certain Wiccan rituals, including a marriage and those associated with the ancient Egyptian Gods. With the new popularity of witchcraft in its modern form, it is probably impossible to be completely accurate because of the different deviations dependent on which practising witch you speak to, so it would be unfair to criticise Leigh for this.

Directed and written by Malcolm Leigh, this film, sold as a documentary, does seem to depict with some authenticity Wiccan rites and ceremonies. Originally X-rated, it centres on the rituals of celebrated Notting Hill Witch King and Queen, Alex and Maxine Sanders. It lacks deviation in expression so that one sentence often moves into another without much consequence. This is a beautiful start to the film, and the story itself has definite roots in the Wiccan creation story of ‘Our Lady of Infinite Love’, who goes by many names, including that of Dianna. It is a home for UK cinematic oddities, offering everything from exploitation documentaries to B-movies, countercultural curios and obscure classics, If it's weird, British and forgotten, then it's Flipside.

With its atmosphere and visuals, this really does come off as one of the better British horror films from this period. It takes place outdoors with an emphasis on the four primeval elements of earth, air, fire and water. Directed by Derek Ford and staring High Priest Alex Sanders ( Legend of the Witches, 1970), Secret Rites, 1970, is a pseudo-documentary about a young girl being initiated into a witches’ circle. The extra quality also allows for some detailing to be seen clearer during the performance of each mass and ritual.

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