Jack’s Wife / Season of the Witch (1972)

Jack’s Wife / Season of the Witch (1972)

“Being afraid is necessary to believing.”

A middle-aged housewife (Jan White) whose husband (Bill Thunhurst) takes her for granted and whose daughter (Joedda McClain) no longer needs her becomes intrigued by the notion of witchcraft, eventually using it as motivation to seduce a local young professor (Raymond Laine).

Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:

  • Feminism and Women’s Issues
  • Generation Gap
  • George Romero Films
  • Housewives
  • Marital Problems
  • Sexual Repression
  • Witches and Wizards

After making a noteworthy debut with Night of the Living Dead (1968), George Romero’s third feature-length film was this self-described “feminist film” that is best captured by its original title (given that the entire storyline is about White’s attempt to be something other than simply “Jack’s wife”), but which distributors attempted to spin in two different directions. Season of the Witch (the poster above doesn’t even showcase White) capitalizes on the film’s theme of witchcraft (utilized by White to give her confidence in breaking free from her staid existence), while Hungry Wives was simply a pathetic attempt to market it as a soft-core adult film.

On its own merits, Jack’s Wife remains an intriguing artifact of its era, creatively directed by Romero — albeit within a super-low budget, and at a time when Romero professes he was still just learning basics of directing — and consistently going in unexpected directions. Though it’s not a horror film per se, we can sense the “horror” of White’s situation as she’s surrounded by near-harpies (her circle of friends aren’t exactly appealing):

… ignored (and occasionally beaten) by her oft-travelling husband:

… patronized by her pipe-smoking analyst:

… pitied by her self-absorbed daughter:

… and chastised as insufficiently “hip” by her daughter’s lover:

Meanwhile, Romero injects numerous frightful nightmare sequences, which lend the film an appropriate air of mystery and trauma throughout:

— and the final scene is most definitely a shocker.

Redeeming Qualities and Moments:

  • Many creatively filmed sequences

  • Ann Muffly as White’s friend Shirley
  • An unusual screenplay

Must See?
No, but it’s recommended for one-time viewing as an unexpected early entry in Romero’s oeuvre. Listed as a Cult Movie in the back of Peary’s book.


2 thoughts on “Jack’s Wife / Season of the Witch (1972)

  1. ⭐️⭐️⭐️ out of ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

    George Romero’s third film is one of his most interesting and very probably his most low key film. It mixes its urban setting with creepy horror and character building, this deserves to be more widely seen and better known. A quietly effective little film.

    Not must see.

  2. Not must-see.

    Somewhat ambitious Romero film ultimately disappoints. (Romero himself said this was the only one of his movies that he wanted to re-make.) Whereas, in the case of ‘Night of the Living Dead’, it didn’t matter so much that non-actors were used (in fact, that became a strength for the film, taking it to a convincing level of reality), here the need for better actors is more apparent.

    However, it’s not totally the fault of the cast since the script itself is wanting. What’s likely intended to be progressively more hypnotic is, alas, sleep-inducing. Romero really only comes up to the plate for his conclusion – which is effective but not enough to save the film.

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