Media Blasters // 1988 // 96 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // January 25th, 2007
David Hassehoff. Linda Blair. A ghost that transports people to a magical cave. Sounds cheesy, but this movie is hardcore.
Gary and Linda (David Hasselhoff and Catherine Hickland) leave for a picturesque New England island, where Linda hopes to research on a local witchcraft legend and Gary hopes to talk Linda into forsaking her virginity and riding his perm/mullet into the ground. Thing is, there might be something to all this witch talk, as the couple notice strange visions right from the get-go. They're soon joined by some visitors, looking to purchase the old house, one of whom is pregnant and, thus, is susceptible to demon possession (Linda Blair, The Exorcist).
As the group gets acclimated to each other, a powerful storm rolls in, stranding them on the island. Unable to make it across the turbulent seas, the eclectic bunch hunker down for a night of wind, rain and unspeakable acts of violence committed by a demented ghost witch.
This one took me completely by surprise. At first glance, Witchery had the makings of a disposable horror yarn: C-level celebrities, a tired haunted house storyline, horrible acting. All if that is present, sure, but what I wasn't unsuspecting was such a hard-ass R-rated horror flick. This movie sports some of the most ingenious kills I've seen in a long, long time; heck, there were moments I was having trouble looking at the screen. Seriously.
Before we tackle the good stuff, let's run through the usual game-plan. The acting is across-the-board sub-par, with Hickland turning in a particularly wooden performance. Then again, the actors weren't really given Shakespearean dialogue to work with -- The Hoff's beach-side monologue in why Linda should come to grips with the fact that any self-respecting woman at her age who's still a virgin is "nuts" stands out as particularly loathsome.
The story isn't engrossing either, recycling the haunted house/evil presence storyline that you've seen many times before. There are few nifty little twists as the endgame approaches, but in the final 10 minutes or so, the movie flies off the rails, ends fat too abruptly, and leaves lots of questions unanswered.
That being said, I'm still all over the flick. When this witch gets rolling with her murderous, supernatural mayhem, the film hits a whole new level of depraved. Chief among the disturbing scenes is an unending, bordering-on-graphic rape scene involving Linda and a demon with a @#$%-ed up mouth. Runners-up include an old lady having her mouth sewn shot, a guy crucified upside down on a burning cross, and a blood-soaked voodoo stabbing. All of the scenes are shot with great detail and though some of the effects may not hold up to rigid gorehound scrutiny, overall the kills are very well-executed.
Is the violence enough to earn Witchery a recommendation? I think so. I can honestly say I was shocked by some of the crap that went down and I'm a pretty jaded viewer. Horror fans in particular should really get a kick out of what director Fabrizio Laurenti crafted, even if some elements of the film sag. Give it a spin.
The 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer looks smooth overall, boasting strong colors and crisp details. For the audio, a stereo track that does what it has to and nothing more. Trailers are it for bonuses.
Some corny acting and a mediocre plotline give way to some kick-ass horror. Witchery is the cat's pajamas.
Get that upside down crucified burning man off the lawn. Other than that, not guilty.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Media Blasters
* 1.85:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
Running Time: 96 Minutes
Release Year: 1988
MPAA Rating: Not Rated