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Secret Rites

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Secret Rites 18 rating

'King of the Witches' Alex Sanders initiates doe-eyed Penny into the ways of his coven.

Documentary 1971 47 mins

Director: Derek Ford

Overview

Part Mondo movie, part countercultural artefact, this strange mid-length 'documentary' by sex film director Derek Ford lifts the lid on witchcraft in 1970s Notting Hill. Mystery band The Spindle provide the groovy, psychedelic sounds while tentative occult enthusiast Penny and a serious-sounding narrator introduce the viewer to three ritual acts. Far out.

Alex Sanders and his wife and collaborator Maxine often appeared in the press in the 1970s, performing nude rituals. Maxine takes a back seat on this occasion but does appear in the more sedate pub scene, dragging on a cigarette. Alex's title King of the Witches came in part from his 1967 biography, which Penny refers to. Her interest in Wicca appears questionable, though - she featured in the Frankie Howard TV comedy Up Pompeii! and worked as a model. The film's authenticity is thrown into further doubt by sex film historian Simon Sheridan's observation that some coven members also appeared in contemporary underground hardcore porn.