A classic case of the poster being better than the film it’s advertising, this is the UK quad for the 1972 British sexploitation horror Virgin Witch, which was produced and released by Tigon, primarily known for their horror output. Directed by Ray Austin who spent most of his career directing TV shows, the film stars Ann Michelle and her sister Vicki (later to gain fame as Yvette Carte-Blanche in the TV series Allo ‘Allo!) as Betty and Christine, a pair of wannabe models.
Answering an advert in a shop window, the more confident Betty meets Sybil Waite, a lecherous modelling scout played by the late Patricia Haines (the first wife of Michael Caine), who invites her to a country manor on the pretense of being photographed for an advertising campaign. Sybil encourages Betty to invite Christine along and after arriving there the sisters soon discover that all is not as it seems on the outside. Before long, Betty is being inducted to a witches coven in a laughable sequence in which the coven’s leader Gerald (Neil Hallett) gets to have his way with her.
Later it appears that Christine is to be sacrificed in another ceremony but the script is so weak that it’s not clear why and the attempt at a shock ending falls totally flat. The story comes a distant second to the almost constant female nudity, clearly a requisite from producers keen to sell the film to as many international buyers looking to satisfy the punters of ‘adult’ cinemas. Virgin Witch is totally devoid of anything in the way of supernatural scares, or indeed horror of any kind, and any attempt is fumbled badly. Both leading ladies have apparently disowned the film since it was made and it’s not hard to see why!
This poster is the result of a collaboration between two key figures in the history of British poster design: Fred Atkins and Arnaldo Putzu. Atkins was born in Kent in 1928 and attended art school before joining an agency on Sloane Street in London as a junior. He moved around a few agencies before joining Pulford Publicity in 1951 where he designed multiple quad posters, staying with Eric Pulford through several mergers and acquisitions, eventually leaving what became Downtons in 1968 to help set up the FEREF agency (he’s one of the Fs in the name) from where he would eventually retire. Virgin Witch is one of the posters he designed whilst at FEREF.
Arnaldo Putzu was born in Rome in 1927 and began painting from a very early age and in 1948 he got involved with the world of film publicity under the guidance of the famous artist Enrico De Seta. Eventually Putzu would gain enough confidence in his abilities to set up his own agency and it was this move that saw him getting involved in work for the British studio Rank. Eric Pulford was so impressed with his work that he brought him over to London to work at Downtons in 1967.
The artist worked on many quads whilst over here and also gained notoriety for lending his talents to the popular children’s magazine Look-in, for which he painted almost every cover during its publication lifetime. His best-known quad is undoubtedly the one he painted for the Michael Caine gangster classic Get Carter in 1971. My friend, and author of the must-own British Film Posters, Sim Branaghan met Putzu during the making of his book and describes it as a very memorable experience in the interview I published in 2012. Putzu sadly passed away the same year, aged 85, and Sim wrote an excellent obituary for The Guardian newspaper, which can be read here.