Season of the Witch/There's Always Vanilla George A. Romero

To show another side of himself after the runaway success of his influential breakthrough Night of the Living Dead, director George A. Romero took a big U-turn away from zombies to avoid being typecast as a horror director. The result is arguably his two worst movies, which after viewing make complete sense as to why he's always distanced himself from them. Season of the Witch is the main attraction and deserves that status, but just barely. Seemingly a hypnotic tale of an oppressed housewife's fling with witchcraft and the occult, this film aims to disturb but only does so because of its unwillingness to make any sense. The film opens with an unsettling dream sequence that tries to create a wave of paranoia, which sets the tone for this messy film. A basic plot that is constantly marred by absurd nightmares distracts from the theme of female oppression, which itself is portrayed inadequately. With a bizarre fondness for the word "balling" when it comes to sexual situations, it's arduous and confusing, making for an unpleasant viewing experience. Nevertheless, it's not his worst film. That title goes to There's Always Vanilla, the second film included on the flipside of the disc. An even bigger departure than Witch, Vanilla is a muddled romantic drama that was originally a 30-minute short film. When a man and a woman suddenly run into each other, they quickly hit it off (and I mean quickly), forming a frivolous, troubled relationship that sets up a film of tiring dialogue, including a questions-only segment that feels everlasting. Originally this film wasn't planned as a feature, but Romero mistakenly pushed writer Rudolph J. Ricci into lengthening the script. Extras include a featurette on the films of Romero, but the better featurette comes in "Digging Up the Dead," which focuses on his lost films and finds the director candidly admitting that Vanilla was an awful experience and he cares very little for it, but surprisingly still enjoys Witch, which he hopes to remake (and hopefully improve) one day. (Anchor Bay)