Hungry Wives (1971)

89m [Season of the Witch version], 104m [Jack's Wife version], 130m [Hungry Wives version]
16mm film (blown up to 35mm film), colour, 1.37:1
mono, English
Reviewed at The

An American borderline horror film directed by George A. Romero.

Plot Summary

Bored suburban housewife Joan Mitchell is approaching 40, trapped in a loveless marriage to businessman Jack, and unable to bond with her teenage daughter Nikki. After visiting a tarot reader, Marion Hamilton, Joan becomes involved with a Wiccan sect, who transform Joan's drab life. She believes that she's now become a real witch and, with her grip on reality loosening, plots her revenge against her husband…


Directed by: George A. Romero
© MCMLXXII [1972] [no company given] [Hungry Wives and Season of the Witch versions]; Copyright 1971 by The Latent Image, Inc. [Jack's Wife version]
Jack H. Harris Enterprises, Inc presents [Hungry Wives version]; This is a film from The Latent Image, Inc. [Jack's Wife version]; Produced through the facilities of The Latent Image, Inc., Pittsburgh
Executive Producer: Alvin Croft
Produced by: Nancy M. Romero
Written by: George A. Romero
Cinematography: George A. Romero
Editing: George A. Romero
Original Electronic Music: Steve Gorn
Sound Recordist: Gerald Schutz
Costumes: Gimbel's
Make-up: Bonnie Priore
Hair Styles: Jim George
Special Effects: Rege Survinski

Jan White [Joan Mitchell]
Ray Laine [Gregg Williamson]
Ann Muffly [Shirley Randolph]
Joedda McClain [Nikki Mitchell]
Bill Thunhurst [Jack Mitchell]
Neil Fisher [Dr Miller]
Esther Lapidus [Sylvia]
Dan Mallinger [Sergeant Frazer]
Daryl Montgomery
Ken Peters [John Fuller]
Shirlee Strasser [Grace]
Bob Trow [Detective Mills]
Jean Wechsler [Gloria]
Charlotte Carter
Linda Creagan
Bill Hinzman [the intruder]
Marvin Lieber [Jerry]

Alternative Titles

La estación de la bruja – Spanish title
Jack's Wife – re-release title
Noita – Finnish title
Season of the Witch – re-release title
La stagione della strega – Italian title


The Hollywood Reporter vol.225 no.47 (13 April 1973) pp.3, 21
At times Hungry Wives could have been created by Germaine Greer; it frighteningly conjures up a nightmarish vision of female oppression. At other times it seems like a high school play […] It's a simple story, embroidered by scenes of middle class frustration and neurosis, often similar in feeling to Cassavetes' Faces. As a director and cameraman, Romero creates a precise sense of place and a listless, sinister atmosphere. But as an editor and writer, he fails. Clearly a film-maker with a serious side, Romero should find talented support if his films are to become cohesive pieces of drama […] The use of Donovan's song Season of the Witch isn't as powerful as it could be. The electronic music by Steve Gorn is impressive, unlike the title which is nothing to do with the movie and is probably going to disappoint the soft-core buffs who will be expecting something quite different from a melodrama about suburban tensions. – Alan R. Howard

Variety 18 April 1973 p.32
Hungry Wives is a tepid witchcraft yarn […] Director-writer George A. Romero, who turned out the highly successful Night of the Living Dead five years ago, here does an about-face on that earlier gore-gushing shocker and totally neglect the horrific requirements of the genre […] Given the static silliness of Romero's screenplay, cast performs quit ably. Miss White is fine in the implausible central role, and Anne Muffly has several standout sequences as a despair ridden friend. […] Secondary performances further testify to director Romero's improved skill in handing actors since the Living Dear [sic] players. Unfortunately, his visual skill shows no comparable upswing. Awkward uses of a hand-held camera, anamorphic-lensed dream sequences and a plethora of tightly cropped close-ups resemble the output of a former tv-news film-maker, although bio lists no such background for Romero. – Beau [real name: Lee Beaupre]

Continental Film Review vol.29 no.8 (June 1982) p.33
A pretty disappointing effort from the director of Night of the Living Dead and Dawn of the Dead. If one did not know otherwise, I would have said this was a TV movie, it looks so flat and dull, with only a few sequences hyped up by wild handheld camera work and over-dramatic editing. – Peter Cargin

Monthly Film Bulletin vol.49 no.587 (December 1982) pp.298-299
[T]here is enough evidence here of Romero's quirky talent to maintain interest throughout. The nightmare attacks not only show off his confident ability to build up tension, but feature shot-for-shot anticipations of similar scenes in Halloween […], and there is a memorably callous sequence with two voice-over cops wrapping up the case while Jack twitches and bleeds his last. Unfortunately, these exist alongside an equal number of misconceived and bathetic moments – such as the film's single demonic manifestation, a black and white pussy cat nosing around in Joan's cellar. – Kim Newman

Time Out no.625 (20 – 26 August 1982) p.23
Season turns out to be a strange and experimental second movie with an unmistakable (but amateurish) aura of Bergman in its fragmented study of a woman caught up in her own very 60s frustrations. The drug references and abstract devices date the film badly but it's nevertheless intriguing to see just how determined Romero was to break new cinematic ground, a director torn between genre and art. On the evidence of Season of the Witch he made the right decision. – David Pirie

Sight & Sound vol.5 no.2 (February 1995) p.62
Inside this exploitation thriller, there's a decent movie trying to get out, but unfortunately, the film's lapses into slasher genre divert from the well-presented ironic commentary on mid-American patriarchal society […] Dated and not always convincing, but there are moments that reveal why Romero regards this as one of his favourite early movies. – Peter Dean


Cinema Spectrum 1979 – interview with George A. Romero (by Richard Lippe, Tony Williams, Robin Wood)
Continental Film Review vol.29 no.8 (June 1982) p.33 – review (by Peter Cargin)
The Dark Side no.64 pp.26-27 – review
Empire March 1995 p.92 – review
Empire no.199 (January 2006) pp.190 – Illustrated DVD review (At Home/Movies: Imports: Season of the Witch/There's Always Vanilla by David Hughes)
Fangoria vol.8 no.72 (March 1988) p.18 – Video Illustrated review (The Video Eye of Dr. Cyclops)
Fangoria no.293 (May 2010) pp.46-47 – Interview, Illustrated review (Romero on Romero by Chris Alexander)
Filmfacts vol.16 no.3 (1973) pp.72-73 – illustrated credits, synopsis, reprinted Variety review
The Hollywood Reporter vol.225 no.47 (13 April 1973) pp.3, 21 – credits, review (by Alan R. Howard)
Monthly Film Bulletin vol.49 no.587 (December 1982) pp.298-299 – credits, synopsis, review (by Kim Newman)
Sight & Sound vol.5 no.2 (February 1995) p.62 – video review (by Peter Dean)
Sight & Sound vol.28 no.1 (January 2018) p.103 – blu-ray review (by Nick Pinkerton – as part of the George A. Romero: Between Night and Dawn box set)
Take One vol.4 no.6 (July/August 1973) pp.8-10 – illustrated article (A Pittsburgh Horror Story by Paul McCollough)
Time Out no.625 (20 – 26 August 1982) p.23 – illustrated review (by David Pirie)
Variety 18 April 1973 p.32 – credits, synopsis, review (by Beau (real name: Lee Beaupre))
Video Watchdog no.54 (1999) pp.22-24 – illustrated DVD/video review

The Aurum Film Encyclopedia: Horror by Phil Hardy (ed.) p.255-256 – credits, review
The Cinema of George A. Romero: Knight of the Living Dead by Tony Williams pp.52-64; 272 – article; credits
Creature Features Movie Guide Strikes Again by John Stanley p.339 – credits, review
Horror and Science Fiction Films II by Donald C. Willis 203 – credits
The Pocket Essential: George A. Romero by Tom Fallows and Curtis Owen pp.32-37 – article
by Walt Lee p.208 – credits