**½/**** Image B+ Sound B Extras C
starring Millie Perkins, Lonny Chapman, Vanessa Brown, George "Buck" Flowers
screenplay by Robert Thom
directed by Matt Cimber
***/**** Image B+ Sound A Extras A
starring Willem Dafoe, Marin Kanter, Robert Gordon, J. Don Ferguson
written and directed by Kathryn Bigelow
by Walter Chaw Looking and feeling a lot like a classic 1970s Seka porno flick, Matt Cimber's seedy, disquieting The Witch Who Came from the Sea straddles an exploitation line in telling a simple tale with an unexpected degree of pretense and, if only occasionally, artistry. History suggests that most of this is due to the contribution of cinematographer Dean Cundey, working here early in his career in his preferred 'scope format and offering the sort of stunning seaside-tableaux counterweight he would employ to greater success in John Carpenter's underestimated The Fog. His landscapes dwarf the lost heroine of the picture, swallowing her whole in the ocean of her past, her obsession with television commercials, and the culture of machismo that manifests itself in 1976 Southern California as muscle beaches and professional football. Opening with Molly (Millie Perkins) telling a tale of her long lost sea captain father to her two nephews (shades, again, of The Fog), The Witch Who Came from the Sea finds its themes topical even when its presentation skews often and badly into the unfortunately-dated.