Fresh off of his success of Night of the Living Dead, Romero tried expanding his skill set as a director. Although Romero's second film takes a short break from horror with 1971's There's Always Vanilla, Hungry Wives jumps right back into the game. This film goes by a few different names, one by of the name of Season of the Witch - this is often confused with the third film in the Halloween franchise released in 1982, also entitled Season of the Witch. To clear up any further confusion, many people just refer to Romero's film as Hungry Wives.
This film tells the story of a group of bored and restless housewives that are uncomfortable with aging. A member of their group, and the butt-end of their humor without her knowledge, is a practitioning Witch. The story focuses in on the protagonist, Joan Mitchell, who expresses interest in learning the mystical arts while sharing the same hopeless outlook on life as her companions.
Although the premise may sound like a straight forward plot the execution that follows thereafter is anything but linear. I was expecting this film to follow in the footsteps of most occult-themed titles of the time that rose in popularity as a result of mainstream coverage and celebrity interest in Anton Lavey's newly-established Church of Satan. This formation of beliefs caused a resurgence of interest in the occult between high-ranking members of society and film- makers alike. Hungry Wives ignores religion; choosing to tackle issues concerning the always-flawed ideology of social and gender roles. Female empowerment is a prominent theme on display and this wouldn't be the last time Romero would shine light on societal issues.
There are plenty of vague scenes that offer little substance. As with most Romero films, you have a low-end cast full of actors and actresses that either use their amateur experience as a stepping stone for improvement or a paycheck to get by. Thankfully, in every Romero film I've seen, the acting is tolerable. When you've scraped the bottom of the barrel for so long you come to appreciate some semblance of talent - because seriously, you can't even begin to imagine the rigors or hardship of sitting through a movie like 1980's Anthropophagous, a dwelling so deep beneath the Earth that it ends up in China.
The film's conclusion manages to incite a "...what the...." response, but the path one must take to reach that point is a slow and arduous one. I'm actually on the fence when it comes to Hungry Wives - there are some moments that'll make you regret saying negative things about the movie while on the other hand it's difficult to remember anything great about it. In recent years, Romero has made his displeasure known when asked about this film - there are various clues that point to a large amount of editing that took place as the film's original release was cut from 130 minutes to 89 minutes. Despite Romero's self-deprecation, Hungry Wives need only be seen by Romero purists.
**A young female actress (maybe in her early 20's back then) by the name of Joedda McClain played a role in Hungry Wives - it was her first and last film. There are fans who express interest in wondering where she disappeared to. I was almost certain I found her on Facebook, and decided to write her a message. Needless to say she never wrote me back. Geesh Joedda, I was merely curious of any details I could use in my review! Help me out here! This is a true story, by the way.