Witchcraft Through the Ages is Volume 1 of the new Cinema Classics Collection from FAB Press.
Benjamin Christensen's macabre masterpiece from 1922, Häxan (The Witch), is the first true 'film maudit' (literally a 'cursed film') and can justifiably be considered the world's first cult movie. This taboo-shattering work occupies an exclusive niche in the annals of horror cinema. Greeted by angry protests upon release, it was censored, banned and condemned everywhere. To 'decent folks' it was the most morbid and perverse film ever made, while others hailed it as a sober and scientific yet thoroughly human document. To Christensen it was the consuming obsession of his life, the film he was put on earth to make. It was a labour of love that would win him immortality of a sort but would also hang over the rest of his career like a dark shadow.
Was Häxan the first and most perverse exploitation film, replete with Satanic debauchery, or the original classic of documentary cinema? Who was this mysterious man, Benjamin Christensen, and what really drove him to create this extraordinary epic?
Delving into the original Danish source material, author Jack Stevenson places Häxan within the context of Christensen's wider career, and also within the context of the times, in the process presenting a picture of this film at the 'moment of impact.' Amazingly, many of the issues that embroiled this film upon its release are still being hotly debated today.