Turns out the diary of a mad housewife is Compendium Maleficarum, who knew? The opening, fish-eyed fantasy of the tag-along hausfrau lashed and leashed plays first as a regional response to Altman’s Images, then as a brick of early Bergman expressionism dropped satirically in Middle America. Supermarkets, car washes and cocktail parties comprise the world of the heroine (Jan White), seething with muted suburban desperation. At home she endures her husband’s (Bill Thunhurst) macho ennui and her daughter’s (Joedda McClain) libidinous surliness, a violator in demonic masks stalks her nightmares. "Oh, do I detect a hint of middle-class morality?" Domestic servility on one side and swingin’ counterculture on the other leave a void in the middle, tentatively filled after a visit to the neighborhood mystic, a "witch." To George Romero, the supernatural simultaneously brings about society’s breakdown and offers the last refuge of radicalism. Awakening to the haze of belief and fear and boredom around her, the kitchen-countertop sorceress ponders her identity, conjures forth a lover (Raymond Laine), and embraces the inner virago. (Donovan on the soundtrack while White shops for occult wares: "And when I looked in my window / So many different people to be...") The black magic of women’s lib, bell book and candle, Shelley’s "strange panacea in a crystal bowl." Much material from Belle de Jour, The Graduate and Faces is taken stock of, "the Rosemary’s Baby bit" is acknowledged. Anne Sexton's "Her Kind" has a contrasting timbre, Romero himself picks up the line of thought and questions it magnificently in Martin. With Ann Muffly, Neil Fisher, and Esther Lapidus.
--- Fernando F. Croce