The 39th release in the long standing BFI Flipside strand sees the release of two far out British films. Exploitation director Derek Ford’s (The Wife Swappers) Secret Rites and Malcolm Leigh’s Legend of the Witches.
Legend of the Witches (1970, 85 mins): The originally X-rated film documentary which looks in detail at previously hidden magic rites and rituals. Sharing the secrets of initiation into a coven, divination through animal sacrifice, ritual scrying, the casting of a 'death spell', and the chilling intimacy of a Black Mass. It also explores Britain's hidden pagan heritage and its continued influence on our lives today.
Secret Rites (1971, 47 mins): Part Mondo movie, part countercultural artefact, this strange mid-length 'documentary' by sex film director Derek Ford lifts the lid on witchcraft in 1970s Notting Hill. Mystery band The Spindle provide the groovy, psychedelic sounds while tentative occult enthusiast Penny and a serious-sounding narrator introduce the viewer to three ritual acts. Far out.
BFI Flipside is dedicated to rediscovering the margins of British film, reclaiming a space for forgotten movies and filmmakers who would otherwise be in danger of disappearing from our screens forever. 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.
Presented in High Definition and Standard Definition
Worldwide Blu-ray debut including the longest cut of Legend of the Witches ever released
Newly recorded commentary on Secret Rites by Flipside founders Vic Pratt and William Fowler
Newly commissioned sleeve art by acclaimed illustrator Graham Humphreys
The Witch’s Fiddle (1924, 7 mins): possibly the first student film ever made, this tale of a magical instrument was shot by the newly formed Cambridge University Kinema Club
Out of Step: Witchcraft (1957, 14 mins): investigative journalist and charismatic Soho bon vivant Dan Farson presents this polite yet probing, nuanced TV documentary about witchcraft
The Judgement of Albion (1968, 26 mins): bold, poetic images populate this ode to resistance by the writer of Blood on Satan’s Claw, Robert Wynne Simmons
Getting it Straight in Notting Hill Gate (1970, 25 mins): short but spectacular time-capsule counter-culture documentary was designed to redress negative perceptions of Notting Hill in 1970
Image gallery: rare memorabilia and newspaper cuttings relating to the films, salvaged from the spooky ’70s