Necromancy


1h 22m 1972

Brief Synopsis

Orson Welles plays the head of a witches' coven in the town of Lilith, where he needs the powers of Pamela Franklin to raise his son from the dead.

Film Details

Also Known As
A Life for a Life, The Toy Factory, The Witching
MPAA Rating
Release Date
Nov 1972
Premiere Information
Tehran Film Festival screening: 24 Apr 1972; Michigan and San Francisco opening: week of 25 Sep 1972; Los Angeles opening: 1 Nov 1972
Production Company
Group III Productions; Valiant Productions, Inc.; Zenith International Pictures
Distribution Company
Cinerama Releasing Corp.
Country
United States
Location
Los Gatos, California, United States

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 22m
Sound
Mono
Color
Color

Synopsis

In Los Angeles, after their baby is born dead, Lori Brandon's husband Frank decides to take a job in the small town of Lilith, in order to get Lori away from painful memories, and despite the approval of her doctor, Lori has misgivings about the move. When she questions Frank, he is oddly reticent about discussing his new position in a toy manufacturing firm, but says that the owner of the company, Mr. Cato, was interested in learning about Lori. On the four-hour drive to Lilith, the Brandons see an oncoming car swerve off the cliff and burst into flames. Greatly troubled, Lori walks down to the burning car and finds nearby a strange rag doll with a woman's picture attached to its head. After the police arrive, Lori and Frank resume their journey, but she takes the doll with her. Just outside Lilith, when their car stalls, Frank walks ahead, leaving Lori behind. While she waits, Lori hears the mesmerizing sound of a man intoning a prayer and climbs a hill to the site of an open grave, where a group of robe-clad people have gathered. Looking into the open casket, Lori sees the already decaying corpse of a young boy. Shocked by the sight, she finds herself suddenly alone on the hill near a gravestone. After Frank returns, Lori, who has returned to the car, tearfully relates her experience, but he suggests that she imagined it. They then drive to a bridge leading into Lilith, where an armed guard at a roadblock checks them before letting them pass and Lori wonders aloud if the guard keeps people in or out of town. At a welcoming dinner provided by Cato, the older man talks about his company, telling Lori that his workers "create magic," rather than toys. Boasting of a huge personal library, Cato lends Lori a book he calls a " Grande grimoire " about the black arts, but Lori says she has no interest in the book or its subject. That night in their new house, Frank scolds Lori for being rude to Cato, but Lori questions why Frank was offered an unusually large salary to work for him. The next day, Lori discovers that Cato, who rules the museum-like town, is the only resident over thirty. Lori recognizes one woman, Priscilla, from her experience at the gravesite. Although Priscilla denies being on the hill, she says that Cato's son was buried there and adds that Cato believes his son is only "resting." Priscilla recognizes the doll Lori found as belonging to Jennie, who was moving away from Lilith when she died in the car accident the Brandons witnessed. Lori feels a special kinship with another resident, Georgette, who says that she and her husband will be leaving soon, because she is pregnant and Cato does not want any children in town, an attitude he developed after his own child died. In the evening, when Lori relates what she has learned to Frank, he admits that some of the toys at the factory are "weird" and agrees that they should leave. However, the following day Frank convinces Lori to remain one week, so that he will be able to leave with the company's blessing and a month's pay. Against her inclination, Lori agrees to attend a party Cato holds in their honor, where Dr. Jay, one of the residents, says that "pleasure is the cardinal rule." After the party, Lori realizes that Frank really wants to stay, and has a frightening set of visions, during which she drops a glass and cuts her foot. On her way to the clinic the next day, Lori is intrigued to find a young boy on a park swing. Priscilla walks up and claims not to see the boy, and then mysteriously compares Lori to Jennie, who she says did not leave until it was too late. While bandaging Lori's wounded foot, Jay invites the Brandons to dinner with him and his wife Nancy. That night, when Frank and Lori arrive, the home is dark, but then a light switches on and they are admitted into the house, where a decadent party is in progress. They are invited to join the town's coven, of which all the residents are members. Next, when Lori awakens in bed, she sees the boy standing nearby, and, after experiencing several terrifying visions, sees the boy again at the park swing. Lori later confronts Cato, telling him she will not become a witch. She accuses him of believing he is a god, but denying it, Cato admits only that he covets a god's power, which is to bring back the dead, and adds that Lori will help bring back his son. Soon after, Lori learns that Georgette has had a miscarriage and recalls how she lost her own child. In Cato's book, Lori discovers a ritual for resurrecting the dead and proceeds to Priscilla's shop to talk with her. Alone there, she finds ritual tools and a room decorated for a satanic ceremony. Appearing out of the shadows, Jay informs her that she is standing in the magic circle where a new witch will soon take her sacred vows. Lori responds that she is leaving and has guessed that they want her to take part in a spell to bring back the dead, which will require a living person to replace the deceased in his grave. Confirming her suspicion, Priscilla appears and adds that afterward Cato will allow the people in town to have children. Upon spotting a rag doll bearing a picture of Georgette's face, Lori realizes the coven cast spells to cause the miscarriage of her friend, as well as the fatal accident of Jennie. After she returns home, Lori tries to call Frank at work, finally connecting with Nancy, who tells her that he was sent to Los Angeles on business, although, in truth, he is in bed beside her. Feeling betrayed that Frank would leave her behind in Lilith, Lori throws the doll in the fireplace and in the flames sees visions of herself. Lori receives a phone call from a repentant Priscilla, who warns that Frank has become a witch and says that she wants to leave with Lori. Lori walks to the river, where she is supposed to meet Priscilla, but finds her drowned body near a doll bearing a picture of her face. In quick succession, Lori finds herself willingly initiated into the coven and swearing allegiance to Lucifer. As part of a rite, she stabs a man wearing a ceremonial bull's head and afterward discovers that she has killed Frank. While secretly praying to God, Lori fastens her picture to a doll's head and joins the coven at the hilltop grave. She watches the decaying corpse turn into a healthy young boy and is then forced into the casket. With Lori screaming inside, the coffin is lowered into the grave. Frightened out of her sleep, Lori awakens in her Los Angeles home, just after the death of her baby, and realizes that recent experiences have all been part of a horrific nightmare. Frank consoles her, but her relief is shattered when the telephone rings and Frank is offered a job in Lilith.

Crew

Joyce Aronson

Hair dresser, addl Photographer

Paul Beavers

Best Boy

Yakov Bentsvi

Director, addl Photographer

Barbara Benz

Ward, addl Photographer

Randall Berkley

Props Master

Jacob Bresler

Casting, addl Photographer

Ross Brown

Casting

Raymond Buckland Ph.d.

Tech consultant

Jay Burnhart

Key grip, addl Photographer

Sidney L. Caplan

Executive Producer

William Cartwright

Film Editor

Terry Chappe

Editor [1983 version]

Gail Cohen

Screenplay Supervisor, addl Photographer

Mark E. Cohen

Executive prod [1983 version]

Dennis Dalzell

Camera Operator

Robert De Vestel

Set Decoration

Lynn Del Kail

Hair Styles

Tom Dugan

Prod Assistant, addl Photographer

Tommy Estridge

Gaffer, addl Photographer

Julie Fischer

Makeup, addl Photographer

Eunice Forester

Production Assistant

Douglas Freeman

Video Editor

Roger George

Special Effects

Bert Gold

Production Manager

Bert I. Gordon

Producer

Bert I. Gordon

Writer

Bill Green

Assistant Director

Karl Guers

Video Editor

John Hanley

Assistant film Editor

David Harshbarger

Props master, addl Photographer

Peter J. Heer

Assistant props, addl Photographer

Norman Hess

Key grip

Winton Hoch

Director of Photography

Paul Hughen

Assistant Camera, addl Photographer

Ed Hunt

Assistant Director, addl Photographer

Lurance Johnson

Props Master

Fred Karger

Music Composition and Conducting

Gary Kibbe

Assistant Camera

David Lesser

Transportation capt

Gail March

Wrt [1983 version]

Gail March

Prod [1983 version]

Mike Marlett

Electrician

Michael O'shea

2nd Camera

Bud Otto

Script Supervisor

Alfred Overton

Sound Mixer

Robert Planck

Lead man

Bernard Pollack

Costume Supervisor

Cliff Ralke

Dolly grip

Chuck Randall

Boom Operator

Val Raset

Assistant Director

Don Roberts

Sound

Ted Roberts

Music Editor

Don Schoenfeld

Makeup

Eugene G. Shlugleit

Director of Photographer, addl Photographer

Jeffrey Sneller

Producer

Jack Stern

Orchestration

Robert J. Stone

Executive Producer

Don Stott

Gaffer

Frank Sylos

Art Director

Pamela Tedeschi

Prod Coordinator, addl Photographer

William Tuttle

Special makeup Effects

William "dutch" Vanderbyl

Special Effects

Dennis Virkler

Assistant film Editor

David Waelder

Sound mixer, addl Photographer

Rob Walsh

Music comp [1983 version]

John Woelz

Editing

Greg Wolf

Assistant props, addl Photographer

Film Details

Also Known As
A Life for a Life, The Toy Factory, The Witching
MPAA Rating
Release Date
Nov 1972
Premiere Information
Tehran Film Festival screening: 24 Apr 1972; Michigan and San Francisco opening: week of 25 Sep 1972; Los Angeles opening: 1 Nov 1972
Production Company
Group III Productions; Valiant Productions, Inc.; Zenith International Pictures
Distribution Company
Cinerama Releasing Corp.
Country
United States
Location
Los Gatos, California, United States

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 22m
Sound
Mono
Color
Color

Quotes

Trivia

Notes

The working titles of the film were A Life for a Life and The Toy Factory. The title of the viewed print was The Witching, which was a re-edited, re-released version of the film produced by Premiere Productions, Ltd. and Associates Entertainment International and bearing a 1983 copyright statement in the end credits. The plot summary above is based on a viewing of the 1983 version, with supplemental information based on 1972 reviews and the Filmfacts summary.
       The 1983 onscreen credits, which are the basis of the cast and crew listed above, provides cast and crew members for both 1972 and 1983 versions. Actors following cast member Terry Quinn May have appeared only in the 1983 version, which included scenes added to the 1972 version. The crew names listed above reflect the 1972 version, with the designated additions of crew members who appear to have worked only on the 1983 version; crew members listed in the section marked "Additional photography" appear to have worked only in the 1983 version. The offscreen crew credits listed above are people who worked on the 1972 version.
       Although 1972 reviews reported that the story ended with the character "Lori Brandon" awakening from a nightmare predicting future events, the viewed print ended earlier, with her live burial. The film contained many brief flashbacks. An important point made in the film is that the term "necromancy" is defined as reviving the dead by exchanging a life for a life, but as noted in the San Francisco Chronicle review, the true definition of the term has to do with revealing future events through communication with the dead.
       The film's production and release companies varied among pre-production, the 1972 release and the 1983 release. October 1970 through February 1971Hollywood Reporter production charts reported that the film was being produced by writer-producer-director Gordon and his Group III Productions. According to a November 1970 Hollywood Reporter news item, Gordon, who had recently formed Group III, had completed principal photography on The Toy Factory for under $1,000,000, with the financial backing of Valiant Productions and Premiere Investment Corp., Inc. According to a February 1972 Variety article, in February of the previous year, following completion of The Toy Factory, Caplan, president of Premiere, deemed the film unacceptable and assigned Zenith executive vice president Stone to revise and complete a new version. Stone made twenty minutes of changes to the film, which, according to the February 1972 Variety article, exceeded the budget by four hundred percent.
       According to a July 1971 Daily Variety news item, Gordon and Valiant Productions brought suit against Premiere to re-gain creative control of the film. The same news item reported that a Superior Court judge gave Gordon twenty-one days to re-cut the picture to his original plan, and then return the film for release to Premiere, which was ordered to make no further changes. A September 1971 Hollywood Reporter article reported that in a second preliminary injunction Caplan was found in contempt of court for failing to fully comply with the prior injunction. In February 1972, a Variety article reported that the Superior Court ruled in favor of Premiere by giving it full control of worldwide distribution rights of the film, which was now titled Necromancy, through a deal with Cinerama Releasing Corp. for domestic release and Cavalcade Pictures for foreign distribution.
       In August 1971, a Daily Variety article reported that Zenith had formed a music publishing and recording arm and had plans to record an album titled Emotion containing composer Fred Karger's film score, as well as a single of the film's theme song, "The Morning After," composed by Karger and lyricist Richard Quine. Although a March 1972 Daily Variety news item reported that the song would be sung in the film by Mike Clifford, it was not heard in the viewed print and no 1972 reviews mentioned the song.
       According to Filmfacts and the Los Angeles Times review, portions of Necromancy were shot on location in Los Gatos, CA. Pamela Franklin and Harvey Jason, who portrayed "Lori Brandon" and "Dr. Jay," respectively, were married in 1971. A studio cast list names Ted Roberts as music editor, while October 1970 Hollywood Reporter and Daily Variety news items name Don Roberts as a sound man. It is possible that the two names refer to the same person. Although the Box Office review, dated October 1972, listed a release date of August 1972 for Necromancy, it May not have been released until November 1972, which is the release date given by the Motion Picture Herald review. Several 1972 reviewers criticized the film for its choppy editing, and the Box Office review mentioned that the film was originally intended to be R-or X-rated. Although the 1972 Variety review did state that Franklin appeared partially in the nude, it also noted "trade rumors" that "too-spicy scenes" were ultimately omitted to earn the film a PG rating. In the 1983 version (The Witching), many other characters appeared in the nude and brief scenes of an orgiastic nature were included. According to an April 1972 Daily Variety news item, Necromancy opened the Tehran Film Festival on April 24, 1972.

Miscellaneous Notes

Released in United States 1972

Released in United States 1972