1988's Witchery is an Italian film with a mainly American cast. It feels more Italian than American, but not because it's twined in a Bava-esque shawl of romantic colors. No, no, no. It's less of a Bava Italian and more of a Fulci Italian. Late 80's Fulci. So it's not even prime Fulci, but I'll take what I can get. To be clear, Fabrizio Laurenti is the man behind the camera. He apportioned such classic Italian horror fare as...The Crawlers. That ellipsis was meant to deliver an ironic thud of arrant disappointment. Did it work? It should have. The Crawlers fucking sucked (never have evil tree roots been so boring). Witchery doesn't suck, but it doesn't always seem to know what it wants to do.
Atmospheric in spots, brutal in spots, maudlin in spots...that ellipsis was pointless. Won't happen again. This picture's partisans point straight to the cast. I'll admit, I would see just about any flick that stars both Linda Blair and David Hasselhoff. Blair was nearing the end of her b-trash tour. Hasselhoff was in between television successes. I find it hard to believe that either actor had to do this project. The Hoff's performance is divorced and perfunctory, though he is given bags of bullshit to work with. His character - Gary - is preposterous. His virgin girlfriend won't spread for him, so he spends an embarrassing amount of time trying to abolish her cherry.
Blair does better. Barely. Her character is pregnant, which ties into the drunken plot. Gary's girlfriend is investigating "witch lights" off the coast. Eventually, our ensemble gathers at the island locale. It's a pretty standard creepy house, unless you factor in the elderly woman walking down the hallways at odd intervals. Then it becomes super creepy! Witchery is weird like that. It waggles back and forth from cheesy to uncomfortable. One minute, you're clucking at surfer accents and the next, SATAN RAPE. Seriously. A woman is violated in a dream (well, nightmare) sequence by Satan.
Here, Satan is represented by a dude with a mangled mouth. I'm aware that doesn't sound wholly off-putting, but trust me. It's wholly off-putting. When someone is killed by the witch, we see them "falling" in a tourbillion of 80's effects. That's followed with an upside-down crucifixion or a swordfish impalement. I couldn't make this stuff up if I wanted to. If Witchery was a person, I wouldn't trust it with money. But do I like it? Hell, I don't know. I was entertained for 90 minutes, I suppose. Escapism is underprized. My heart has been in different pieces and places as of late, so I did need a jolt of supernatural revelry. And Satan rape?
Posted by Dom Coccaro at 11:47 PM