Hello and welcome back to Lady Things. This week, instead of giving you a list of my favorite Halloween films, which would probably look a lot like the other lists of essential Halloween films, I'm going to talk about a seriously under appreciated piece of made for TV magic from 1970 called Crowhaven Farm.
This movie was brought to my attention about five years ago by a regular at the coffee shop where I used to work, and since then it has become one of my go-to horror favorites. This movie manages to pack so much cheesiness into seventy-fours minutes that it defies all time and space, and so this week I think we should take a moment to appreciate this masterpiece.
Crowhaven Farm first aired in November of 1970 and stars Hope Lange and Paul Burke of Valley of the Dolls infamy. It opens with the reading of a will bequeathing a mysterious property called—wait for it—Crowhaven Farm, to a wealthy heir named Henry Pearson, who plans on taking possession of the land immediately. While on his way to the farm later that night, a little girl walks out in front of Henry's car while he's driving down a secluded road. He has to swerve to avoid hitting her and he crashes his car into a tree, exploding into a ridiculous amount of flames. Like, seriously, this explosion is so epic I made it into a GIF so I could watch it whenever I wanted. There's no way this explosion makes any sense, so just appreciate how awesome it is.
Since Henry blew up, Crowhaven Farm now belongs to his cousin Maggie Porter and her husband Ben, a nice couple from the city who decide to move to the farm to try and start a family. Maggie doesn't feel great about the place from the start, but Ben convinces her to stay so that he can live out his typical, boring dream of being an artist who has a studio in the country. Not long after they settle in, Maggie starts seeing visions of pilgrims, and we soon learn that a coven of witches used to live in the area in 1650. Like many witches, they were executed by a bunch of puritanical assholes, and their restless, vengeful spirits now inhabit Crowhaven Farm.
One night after a housewarming party, Maggie is offered a job in the city, which she begs her husband to allow her to take so that she can get away from the farm during the day. However, escaping doesn't help and each night at Crowhaven Farm, Maggie keeps having really shitty dreams where she's slowly having a pile of rocks placed on top of her.
After hearing disembodied laughter coming from the forest one night, Maggie decides that it's probably a good time to go to the doctor. However, in a fashion typical of male doctors from the days of Mad Men, he chalks the visions and ghost laughter up to her distress over not having a child and prescribes sedatives. The next day the doctor sends a seriously ill friend of his to the farm to see if they'd be interested in adopting her ten year-old orphaned niece, which seems like a totally normal, not strange thing for a professional doctor to do. Ben and Margaret tell the woman that they want to adopt a baby, but agree to let the girl stay with them for a bit while her aunt goes to Boston for treatment. After leaving her niece with complete strangers, the aunt ends up committing suicide while on the trip after she learns her illness is terminal. The couple decides to adopt Jennifer, which is really sweet and all. But here's the thing: Polite little Jennifer is the same creepy child who was standing in the road at the beginning of the movie when cousin Henry died. Dun-dun-dun!
I don't want to spoil the rest of the movie for you, because it really is an awesomely bad tale of witches, blood sacrifices, revenge from beyond the grave, pacts with the devil and people turning into pilgrims right before your very eyes.
Also there's that explosion, did I mention the explosion? It's pretty great. Anyway, be sure to check out Crowhaven Farm this Halloween season. Thanks for stopping by.