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John’s Horror Corner: Witchcraft (1988), and only witchcraft could compel me to watch this movie again.

January 15, 2012

MY CALL: Only witchcraft could compel me to watch this movie again. This isn’t bad 80s horror.  It’s just plain bad. [D] WHAT TO WATCH INSTEAD: Witch movies have a terrible tendency to suck.  But there are a few gems out there.  For children there’s the Roald Dahl adaptation The Witches (1990) or Hocus Pocus (1993), the young crowd should appreciate The Craft (1996), and the more mature will enjoy The Witches of Eastwick (1987).  If you want something fun, decent and campy with that 80s feel, then you want The Kiss (1988) or Warlock (1989) and Warlock: Armageddon (1993).

After enduring this “classic” I was overcome with the urge to flee, as if such future movie experiences were avoidable as a result of previous insufferable misjudgments. This film was wowingly poor. Not unimpressive, nor mediocre, but just POOR. While I have a special place in my heart for most circa-1980’s horror series part ones, this little piece of Hell scarred me with boredom. So, here’s why you should take this to heart and NOT EVER WATCH THIS…

When you think of a 1980’s horror films what pops in your head first? Gore? Cheap scares provoked by sudden scene changes and loud sound effects? Gratuitous nudity? You’ll find none of these things here. Not only did this movie suffer a complete lack of even remotely eerie scenes, the producers didn’t even have the common decency to force some fledgling actress bare her scantily clad body. No kids are doing drugs or having premarital sex either—so, by common law of horror, no one deserves to die in this movie! (And almost no one does.)

The greatest gore effect involves two robed figures hovering over what could only be described as roadkill in a birdbath. The figures chant some incomprehensible syllables while kneading mashed organs in their hands and then <<GASP>> putting it in their mouths. This scene made me tremble no more than when I eat a poorly prepared meatloaf. The other effects, if we’re elevating them to such a descriptor, were limited to sketchy visions through a mirror that were probably meant to feel like a spooky oracle.

I suppose I could address the plot. Scene One: some people are killed. All the rest of the scenes, those people were somehow reincarnated into a mother and son (though lovers in scene one) who are obsessed with the son’s new child. Why? Well, clearly that child is a reincarnation of their unborn child when they were burnt at the stake.  Oh, and this is the “child of the devil” as well. Far from compelling stuff.

So we have a lame plot festooned with poor attempts at effects, a total absence of scares, some unexplained motives, no nudity (for those of you who care), and an unsatisfying ending. Though, to the ending’s credit, it was no more disappointing than the rest of the movie.

I truly yearn for the day that we get a horror-for-the-sake-of-horror witchcraft movie that doesn’t suck.  Season of the Witch (2011) was a semi-action, genre-crossover disappointment.  The Blair Witch Project (1999) really wasn’t a witch movie.  I really like Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2 (2000)—but it was a “haunting movie,” really no different from a typical “house movie” (aka haunted house movie; see Haunter).  The closest thing to what I’m looking for has been The Skeleton Key (2005)… but that relied on one big incantation to drive the plot.  I liked it, but it didn’t feel like a witchcraft movie.  I’m also not counting séance-based movies like Lo (2009).

Come on, Hollywood.  This is something that has not been overdone (not well anyway).  Is it really so hard to throw together a good witch story without giving it a charming Harry Potter British spin or Disney make-over?  Or do I just have to sit back and watch as the Witchcraft series pelts out a dozen T’n’A-driven sequels?  Really, folks!  I checked online.  There is a “part 13” for God’s sake!  Witchcraft 13: Blood of the Chosen (2008).  I am proud that I have not seen any of these 12 sequels!

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