Featured Post

Featured Post - Witchcraft Marathon

I watch a lot of movies but I somehow missed out on a few franchises. Most of them started or have the majority of their sequels released in...

Tuesday, April 13, 2021

Witchcraft X: Mistress of the Craft (1998)

Before you start reading this review is part of a larger marathon that I’m doing where I watch all sixteen of the Witchcraft movies in a row. I may reference those so check out the following link to start at the beginning. If you have already done that then enjoy my misery.

Why does this franchise keep doing this to me? If you remember part IX brought back the director who made the worst entry into the franchise, up until that point when he replaced himself. That was bad enough. But then I sit down to watch Witchcraft X and see that they moved the setting from Los Angeles to England bringing only one reoccurring character to a new story. Cool… but that character is Lutz, played by Stephanie Beaton, who was the worst actor in the previous movie. Damn it!

The story, if you can call it that, is repetitive from earlier flicks in the franchise. This time a vampire named Raven springs a cult leader named Hyde, who Lutz was coming to bring back to America to face charges. She does that so he can summon a demon or god that is even more powerful than Satan. Allied with Lutz is Celeste who is a witch, I think. She comes off as part Doctor Strange and part Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I’m making this sound much cooler than it really is. Stuff happens… slowly and then the bad guys get what is coming to them. The end.

The formula of nothing happening for long stretches with some nudity and naughty stuff mixed in is followed again. They made ten of these things so they must be catering to an audience somewhere. The plot is paper thin and is the same one that we get with most every Witchcraft movie. Bad guys want to summon a badder guy to do bad stuff. Heroes have to stop them. That’s it. We know that there isn’t a plot so let’s talk about what we do have to watch instead. The thrilling action here consists of people walking, talking on the phone, dancing to shitty music, footage of random people strolling around the street, and more dancing. Not fun at all.

I forgot Celeste wears a costume and cape
Witchcraft X has a lot of fight scenes in it as Celeste does kung fu magic many times. If you thought they were bad at character and story you should check out the fight choreography. It is awkward and you can see where actors pause to wait for the very slow kicks and punches to come at them. The vampires have super strength which means that when these small women grab men and toss them across the room the victims are clearly jumping and throwing themselves along to help. Honestly, it’s just crap.

Some other familiar complaints at this point are the audio issues where you can’t always hear the dialogue from scene to scene and sometimes even from actor to actor in the same scene. The music is generic and at times the volume changes seemingly at random for no apparent reason. I also noticed for the first time that there are no musical cues in this flick at all. While they were bad in the past they at least were there. All in all, this movie feels cheaper than those that preceded it, which given the budget on those is saying something.

I’ve lost hope at this point. These Witchcraft movies are getting worse as they seem to recruit no talent directors, writers, and actors to work on them. I know that sounds mean but I’ve sat thru ten of these damn things at this point, so I feel like I have the right to be pissed off. I’m not asking for a classic but at least make an effort. Clearly, I don’t recommend Witchcraft X: Mistress of the Craft.

 

Next up Witchcraft XI: Sisters in Blood

 

Ó Copyright 2021 John Shatzer

Monday, April 12, 2021

Witchcraft IX: Bitter Flesh (1997)

Before you start reading this review is part of a larger marathon that I’m doing where I watch all sixteen of the Witchcraft movies in a row. I may reference those so check out the following link to start at the beginning. If you have already done that then enjoy my misery.

My last review for this franchise probably sounded hopeful. I thought having ditched the rotating stories around the William character that they could then explore some different things. Witchcraft VIII wasn’t great, but it was better because I think that the filmmakers involved had more freedom. So, what does the series do? Bring back the director of the worst movie in the franchise so far and un-kill William. God damn it.

Yeah, William is back and is killed at an art gallery opening or something like that. We never find out what it was or how he died. Nope, just get to see him wander around as a ghost that no one can see or hear. Well until he meets the hooker with the heart of gold, Sheila, who was in a coma once and can now hear dead people and see the future but only sometimes. She and dead William team up to stop some cultists that worship Kofu the Egyptian god who want to summon Satan or maybe not. Really it isn’t clear. Also, William, while dead, sees his body walking around as it was possessed. The bad guys want to kill his girlfriend because he sent her his power before he died… which he doesn’t seem to know.

This movie is garbage. I watch a lot of bad movies, so it takes something really special to piss me off as much as Witchcraft IX did. Not only is there no attempt at a cohesive story and what we get is riddled with giant plot holes, but they don’t explain how William isn’t dead. It isn’t like they are ignoring the previous movie either as they reuse footage from part VII, which is where they killed him off. The best part is they actually show you him dying on screen from that movie and don’t explain or acknowledge the how or why the character isn’t dead. This is from the same director so he probably should remember the movie he made just a couple of years ago.

The hooker who hears dead people...
Remember when I reviewed part VII, I talked about how odd it was that they liked to zoom the camera in on panties. They mixed it up this time because almost every scene begins or ends on a cleavage shot. Not quite as creepy or sketchy but still someone has issues, they need to work out. The acting is flat with horrible line delivery which itself is further complicated with juvenile dialogue. We also get lots of padding here with ambulances, stock footage of a college campus, dead William walking around, phone calls, and of course driving. 

For whatever reason they added a subplot with the cops Lutz and Garner tracking down the killer who is ripping hearts out for Kofu and other reasons never explained. They don’t have much to do, which is good since the actors recast in these roles are excruciatingly bad. Stephanie Beaton as Lutz can’t deliver a line in anything other than a monotone. And that is when she can actually not stumble over them.

I never do this but here I think it is appropriate. The director’s name is Michael Paul Girard and he is a hack. Seriously this movie is trash, and no one should watch it. Hell, we shouldn’t even acknowledge it’s existence. I know it takes a village to make such a turd, but he is the common denominator between the two worst entries into what is admittedly a crappy franchise. Stay far away from Witchcraft IX: Bitter Flesh.

 

Next upWitchcraft X: Mistress of the Craft

 

Ó Copyright 2021 John Shatzer

Sunday, April 11, 2021

Witchcraft VIII: Salem’s Ghost (1996)

Before you start reading this review is part of a larger marathon that I’m doing where I watch all sixteen of the Witchcraft movies in a row. I may reference those so check out the following link to start at the beginning. If you have already done that then enjoy my misery. 

With William dead what direction are they going to take the Witchcraft franchise? I guess the answer to that is sort of a haunted house story. After an opening sequence set three hundred years ago where some locals in Salem, yes that Salem, bind a particularly nasty warlock named Simon to a resting place with a magic cross. Then we come to modern day mid-nineties to see a couple, Sonny and Mary Ann, moving into their new home. They putter around a bit before a neighbor visits and in an effort to help starts to take down a basement wall. 

Guess who is buried in the basement of the house? If you guessed the warlock, you win the prize. The prize is not having to watch Warlock VIII. Some crazy stuff happens including the furniture coming alive and flying around the room. Eventually a witch hunter from the Church of England shows up to save the day. Only he seems a bit lackluster and ends up stuck on the front lawn. Though he gave Sonny enough information to eventually put Simon back in his eternal prison. Though how are they going to explain the body on the front lawn? 

I’ve been trying to find the positives with these movies before explaining in detail why you shouldn’t watch them. Though for the last movie I didn’t even make the effort because there was nothing good. I’m going to be a bit kinder to Salem’s Ghost. Now that they are free of the William character it seems that the writer had some fun. There is an actual plot here with some meat on the bone. Don’t get me wrong there are still pacing issues, more on that later, but at least there is something happening in this one. I liked the witch hunter character, and the crazy neighbors were sort of amusing. In past reviews I’ve accused this franchise of not having a script or story, here we do get one. It isn’t great, but that is still a huge improvement. 

There is some gore, but on a budget. The opening when they burn Simon after stabbing him in the heart with the magic cross is pretty neat. Cheap but I give them an “A” for effort. There is also a character getting run thru with a lightning rod and another ripping his own face off. Again, this isn’t top notch stuff but it’s better than nothing, which this franchise has done in the past. The music is also more interesting with a chanting/singing soundtrack that gives it a bit of a religious vibe that works with the story. This is a vast improvement over the generic noise we have been subjected to in previous entries. 

Now you may be thinking that this is a good movie. It isn’t but it also isn’t awful. It sucks but a mediocre movie in this franchise is a star! We still have pacing issues, there is still some padding, they do like their naughty scenes, and other such issues. But here it’s just not as bad as before. I wouldn’t recommend this movie unless you are bound and determined to check out a Witchcraft flick. This is the best of the bunch, so far at least, I’m only halfway thru the franchise. I’m keeping hope alive that there is one I can actually recommend but we are running out of options. 


Next up Witchcraft IX: Bitter Flesh 


© Copyright 2021 John Shatzer


Saturday, April 10, 2021

Witchcraft VII: Judgement Hour (1995)

Before you start reading this review is part of a larger marathon that I’m doing where I watch all sixteen of the Witchcraft movies in a row. I may reference those so check out the following link to start at the beginning. If you have already done that then enjoy my misery. 

It seems as if the writers tried to mix things up this time. Instead of warlocks or Satanists trying to summon the Devil we have a vampire trying to take over the world’s blood supply thru a corporate merger. Um… okay it is certainly different. The movie starts with that vampire draining a girl at a party. She dies and comes back as a vampire in the hospital. That seems awfully careless of a character that is supposed to be five hundred years old. 

At the hospital is our old pal William the warlock who realizes that something isn’t right. He calls detectives Lutz and Garner who stop by in time for the dead woman to sit up on the slab and proceed to kick their asses. They head off in pursuit and find her chowing down on an unfortunate jogger in the park. There is a fight and William runs a stake thru her heart “out of instinct”. I guess he has forgotten about his power again. Also, the detectives are totally against the idea of vampires despite having already seen shit that proved the supernatural exists. Stuff happens and the vampire is staked but not before something shocking happens! William is killed which is why I think that the movie had the stinger “The Final Chapter”. If only that were true. 

Why did they keep making these movies? The filmmakers here certainly weren’t trying to tell a story or develop characters. My only guess is that these flicks could be rented to horny teenage boys who weren’t old enough to get behind the magic curtain aka. the adult section. Yes boys and girls before the internet one had to actually either purchase or rent your porn. And really that is all this movie is aspiring to be a softcore porn. While never explicit we get scene after scene of naked people, mostly ladies, rolling around on one another or solo. The actresses disrobe almost immediately, and dialogue is rushed to get to the simulated naughty stuff. Even the music is reminiscent of the sort of crap you would hear in a porno… or so I’ve been told. 

Before you think I’m being harsh let me explain a few things. The story is paper thin. Vampire wants to do vampire stuff, William gets in the way, and lots of naked ladies. That’s it in a nutshell. When the characters do have their clothes on we see them random sword practice, board meetings, and phone calls. This movie also has zero kills and gore with the best you can hope for is some store-bought costume teeth and a trickle of blood. The one big effect they try is when the vampire turns into a bat or some shit like that. It is rubbery and looks awful. 

A few other random things. William is played this time by David Byrnes, who was in Intruder. I’d much rather be watching that. Also, inexplicably they not only recast Lutz but gender swapped the character who is now a woman. Why not just make a new character and not confuse us? Well, that would have required someone who knew how to write a script so never mind. Finally, I just felt creepy watching this movie. Not because of the nudity but because of the incessant zoom in close up shots of panties. 

This is by far the worst of the lot so far and if you have read my other reviews, you know how big of a deal that is. My optimism of finding a watchable movie in this franchise is beginning to wane but I shall carry on. 


Next up is Witchcraft VIII: Salem’s Ghost


© Copyright 2021 John Shatzer


Friday, April 9, 2021

Witchcraft VI (aka. Witchcraft 666) (1994)

Before you start reading this review is part of a larger marathon that I’m doing where I watch all sixteen of the Witchcraft movies in a row. I may reference those so check out the following link to start at the beginning. If you have already done that then enjoy my misery. 

Here we have a threat to the world in the form of yet another evil warlock, this time named Savanti. He has a couple of minions running around kidnapping girls to become the baby mamma of the Devil. I believe they are looking for a virgin, but I’m not sure. When it doesn’t work, they dump the bodies, and the cops find them. So, they think there is a serial killer running around. This is how we meet our cops, Lutz and Garner. 

Somehow the inept pair figure out that there is a supernatural twist to the killings and go looking for an expert. Guess who that is? Yep, William is back, this time played by another new actor Jerry Spicer. Stuff happens, slowly, and they eventually track down the evil warlock and his crew but not until they kidnap William’s secretary who is a recent graduate of Holy Trinity College and you guessed it… a virgin! 

Here we are at the sixth installment and I’m beginning to wonder if they weren’t making these things without worrying about plot and characters on purpose. These aren’t getting any better and you would think that they might make a passable one on accident. The only explanation is that this is the kind of movie they are trying to produce. This is the same basic story as most of those preceding it. The one added twist are the police, who act as comic relief. Though the scripts idea of jokes is having the cops ask for doughnuts over and over again while Garner says sexist stuff and ogles at women. The plot also has a greatest hits of dumb movie tropes. For example, the police captain that yells at his underlings. It also repeats plot points from earlier movies like having the bad guy send a woman to seduce William as that is his weakness. You would think that wouldn’t work the second time around. Then again, the part was recast so maybe he hadn’t watched the earlier movies. I’m beginning to wish I hadn’t.

The movie is also filled with padding stretching out shots of people driving, drinking, and taking a bath. We also get several extended naughty scenes with lots of skin that go on far too long and repeat the same shots over and over again. Though the worst waste of time is when the cops interrogate all the weirdos to try in an attempt to drum up leads. This means we get a parade of bad actors acting badly with awkward dialogue that again I’m thinking was supposed to be funny but isn’t.

So, was this supposed to be a comedy? I certainly hope not because it isn’t funny. It also isn’t much of a horror movie. We are back to lame kills that mostly happen off screen and number less than three. At least part Dance with the Devil game me something. We also get a generic ‘90s soundtrack that is okay but is loud at times. The audio issues with dialogue hard to hear in some scenes pops up again as well. New movie same flaws. I can’t recommend Witchcraft VI.

Next up Witchcraft VII: Judgement Hour


© Copyright 2021 John Shatzer


Thursday, April 8, 2021

Witchcraft V: Dance with the Devil (1993)

Before you start reading this review is part of a larger marathon that I’m doing where I watch all sixteen of the Witchcraft movies in a row. I may reference those so check out the following link to start at the beginning. If you have already done that then enjoy my misery. 

There is a new warlock in town… or maybe not. His name is Cain, and he is either a demon, or just the Devil’s bill collector. We see him recruit a girl named Marta to help him and by that, I mean he doesn’t kill her. So, the pair start collecting souls that I think he is owed. I mean he keeps talking about them having six good years so maybe these folks made a deal with the Devil? The movie never explains itself, but then again this is a Witchcraft flick so did you expect them to? We also meet a reverend who gets possessed by some lightning when he goes to help a homeless guy who got run over by a car. That is important later.

Now we meet William, played by a new actor named Marklen Kennedy. He and his lady friend got to a bar that is also where Cain is doing his magic show because that is what demonic bad guys do in their down time. That last bit is a total guess from me. Cain knows that William is a warlock so he mind controls him to do his bidding. Makes the soul collecting more efficient and I’m guessing if he makes his quota, it will bring the Devil back to Earth. There is a big showdown and sword fight where Cain loses his head, and the credits roll immediately. 

I’ve noticed that I tend to try and start these reviews off with something positive. I’m going to do that again. The actor who plays Cain, David Huffman, chews the hell out of the scenery. Really if he had stared at the camera and asked us about a Blood Feast it would have seemed appropriate. He wiggles his fingers to mind control and throws open his cape Manos style to collect souls and intimidate people. That was fun, not enough to make the movie any good, but at least it wasn’t as boring as the previous three. 

Huffman as Cain chewing up scenery
The rest of the movie is a thin plot with characters that jump from scene to scene disrobing for some simulated naughty business. We see so many naked girls that it actually gets old after a while. Or maybe I’m just old and that isn’t enough to keep my attention anymore. Regardless as I suspected this is likely the formula that the rest are going to follow. The scenes go on and on reusing the same angles to stretch things out. This is what I suppose you must do when you don’t have an actual script, dialogue, or plot to speak of. 

They did improve a bit on the kills and special effects. Don’t get your hopes up as it isn’t great, but better. Instead of the nonexistent stuff from three and four we do actually get to see a couple stabbings, and a heart get punched out. These are cheaply done, no surprise there, but it is more than we had previously. Sadly, we also are saddled with some of the audio issues again as we can’t always hear the dialogue clearly. One step forward two steps back if you know what I mean. 

The only other thing of note is that Greg Grunberg of Alias, Lost, Heroes, and of course Big Ass Spider fame has a blink and you will miss it appearance in one scene. Overall, I can’t recommend this one as it is less of a mess but still a mess. I’m keeping hope alive that these movies will improve.



© Copyright 2021 John Shatzer

Wednesday, April 7, 2021

Witchcraft IV: The Virgin Heart (1992)

Before you start reading this review is part of a larger marathon that I’m doing where I watch all sixteen of the Witchcraft movies in a row. I may reference those so check out the following link to start at the beginning. If you have already done that then enjoy my misery.

Here we are at the fourth installment of the Witchcraft franchise. This time around we see that William is still a lawyer, but now isn’t defending people but instead I think is doing tax law. All that changes when a woman stops by begging him to defend her brother. When the movie opened, we saw a boy and his girl making out in the woods. Stuff happens and she gets kidnapped. The cops think that he killed her, the body shows up later, but we know it wasn’t him. Later we find out that the hoods who killed her work for a local radio DJ and talent agent who also happens to be an evil warlock. He claims that he and William are the last of their kind… but there are twelve more movies to go so I’d have to say he was wrong.

Along the way to the final showdown with the bad guy William meets and gets very friendly with one of the evil warlock’s clients named Belladonna. She is a stripper and blues singer played by the late great Julie Strain. It was nice to see her on the screen again as it had been years since I watched one of her flicks. Sadly, that is the last thing I’m going to say nice about The Virgin Heart. The warlocks have a big showdown, which again consists of several shots to the groin until William rips out his heart.

So far, I have held out hope that one of these movies would be worth my time. Each one seems to have a different director and writer combination so you would think that they could accidentally stumble over a decent script. If that is destined to happen then it will have to wait because this isn’t that movie. The story is filled with padding starting from the first scene. There is this long-drawn-out opening showing us the girl being kidnapped and killed, though offscreen so no fun gore there. That serves to setup why William gets involved but these characters are useless after that and I wonder why they spent so much time on it. There is another bit with that boy’s sister where she is sort of setup as his love interest but then he is also pursuing Belladonna. Spoiler the sister has very little screen time but does help explain the ending sort of. In the end this seems like a waste of time.

This movie also has the typical padding of people walking, talking on the phone, lighting cigarettes and other such thrilling things. This is what you get when you don’t have scenes and dialogue prepared to move the plot along. The movie is like watching paint dry and that isn’t fun either. This is all despite them trying to create some sort of film noir hard-boiled detective vibe including random voiceovers where William is talking directly to the audience. Cool idea but inept execution. None of it worked for me.

The late great Julie Strain
The soundtrack is also changed up, but still not good. We get some blues mixed in with generic rock music, remember that the bad warlock this time is a DJ, and some of the same mediocre synth cues. The performances are also as wooden or at least I think they are. The audio is so poorly done that I couldn’t hear long stretches of the dialogue so I couldn’t tell what they are saying. This had to be from when they were shooting on set because you have two actors sitting across from one another with one being crystal clear and the other sounding muffled as if they were under a few blankets. Honestly if you don’t have the skill to properly record the sound on set or the budget to do some dubbing in post then you shouldn’t make a movie!

I have more complaints. The kills are lame, like before. There are just a couple and it all happens off screen. You would think that the hearts getting ripped out would be cool, but it isn’t. Now this might seem to be petty, but I also was annoyed that the title didn’t apply. When we had The Temptress there was a temptress. Deadly Kiss had a warlock killing ladies with a kiss. There is no damn mention of the heart being a virgin heart in this movie. I had one expectation for this franchise after three movies and they couldn’t even get that done properly.

I doubt that this comes as a surprise but I’m not recommending Witchcraft IV: The Virgin Heart. It’s terrible. But I’m going to keep the hope alive that there will be a good one in the remaining twelve. So, with that in mind…


Nextup Witchcraft V: Dance with the Devil

 

© Copyright 2021 John Shatzer