Gunthar James, The Witch’s Spell, 1969
This is a title in the long-running Liverpool “Rear Window Series.” There are plenty of self-explanatory titles in the series, including Mother Loves Brother, A Sister Sandwich, Teacher’s Bonus, Sex-Education Class, Every Gal Has One, Oriental She-Devil, etc etc.
On vintage erotic book sites and auctions books in this series change hands for well over USD100. (See here for some examples). I got The Witch’s Spell pretty cheaply and—unlike most of the supernatural sleaze that I have bought—actually read it. And, having read it, I thought I’d write a review of it here.
Unusually, the book contains an explanatory Foreword in which “The Publishers” mention “the recent motion picture” Rosemary’s Baby (1968) as a prompt for the book. The story concerns “what might happen were one or more ‘witches’ to infiltrate a community and place it under the dominion of ‘The Devil’” (8). The story is based “in our own times in any middle class and middle size city or town” in the USA (7).
What this means that the “witches” in this story are really Satanists. They are not Satanic witches of the Anton Le Vey variety either: they are supernatural beings, agents of the devil. The main witch is Natas (= Satan), though she is using the name Mrs Georgiana Carter. The reader discovers by the end of the book that she is many hundreds of years old and that she owes her stunning looks to the devil. Her assistant, Mrs Fenley, a witch-in-training, has been in service a lot longer than she would like: “she had almost served out her time as a Devil’s Disciple and was shortly to be rewarded with the same beautiful face and figure” as Mrs Carter (29).
The victims of this story are introduced in the first lines: “It was, as they say, ‘a lovely wedding.’ It was made doubly lovely-lovely because the groom was not only taking a bride, he had just been elected Mayor of the town.”
The inexperienced and awkward Charles and Julie Simpson are set upon by Mrs Carter. She uses magic to ruin their wedding night, then seduces Charles—with the help of a potion—then uses the film of his humiliation to blackmail Julie into having sex with a local thug, and then uses the films of his and her humiliation to blackmail Charles.
Charles must allow the thug to act freely in the town, which soon becomes a haven for vice and racketeering. He must also invite all the power-brokers of the town to a series of sex parties, each of which offers opportunities to gather more film, giving greater scope to Mrs Carter’s blackmailing operations and her control of the town.
The local thug, Garson, has promised his lieutenants sex with Julie; Mrs Carter organizes it; Charles is shown in at the point that Julie is experiencing (of course) multiple orgasms with multiple partners; he leaves in despair and she is marched off to work in a local brothel.
At this point Dag Ehrling arrives: he is the answer to Mrs Fenley’s prayers. “Here was a Witch of the highest order … he was one of the Devil’s right hands” (200). Ehrling tells Mrs Carter that “You have displeased our Master”—by not preparing Mrs Fenley for her transformation and for going too far with Charles and Julie Simpson. The Devil is concerned that the open humiliation and degradation of the couple will make the pursuit of new souls more difficult, and that the open depravity of the town will lead to a religious resurgence!
Mrs Carter is sentenced to be raped by seven devils, goblins and gnomes (201). The resulting pregnancy will result in “another Witch—a son-devil who will carry on the work of debasing mankind and enrolling souls in the Devil’s army” (203). She is also transformed into a hag, and becomes the servant of Mrs Fenley, who gets her pinup looks. They leave the town, the local thug and his boys are “taken care of” (via evidence of narcotics, prostitution, etc.) and Julie is rescued from the brothel.
So, in this book, “witches” are supernatural beings—the spawn of witches and demons—whose job is to debase mankind and enroll souls in the Devil’s army. There are male and female witches; and the female witches can either be “beautiful and voluptuous” (see the cover art!)—and eternally 25—or old hags. The witches cast spells and use potions (53: “Natas, of course, was privy to all kinds of ‘potions.’ She would have been a pretty poor excuse for a Witch if she wasn’t.”).
Chances are, this isn’t your idea of a witch. But you have to wonder how widespread this idea was after Rosemary’s Baby (1968), because most of the stories I have encountered with “witch” in the title from around this period are based on a similar idea—which is why I have not reviewed many of the stories on this site.