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Featured Post - Mystery Movie Marathon

I thought I'd kick the new year off with another movie marathon. I thought it was time to check out a few old school mystery flicks. Som...

Friday, April 30, 2021

Stranger from Venus (1954)

It has been a while since I've done my Fab Fifties Friday reviews. Here I’ve found another oldie but goodie that I’ve not seen before. This is another of those British movies that must not have gotten a lot of play on the late night shows I frequented back in the day. Pretty excited to check it out.

The story takes place in an isolated small village. One night there is a strange light in the sky and a mysterious man shows up at the local pub. He has no money, acts oddly, and is clearly an alien! There was also an accident where a local woman was seriously injured in a car crash that was caused by the lights. She shows up after everyone has found the car and is assuming the worst. She has injuries, but they are healing. Sure enough the stranger admits he helped her and that he is from the planet Venus.

Why is he here? This isn’t one of those invasion flicks but is instead takes a serious look at the human condition. The Stranger asks that the leaders of the world come to a meeting with the soon to land representatives of his civilization. He has arrived early to set things up and prepare the world. The government men and military instead decide to capture that landing party and keep all the alien technology and knowledge for themselves. We really do suck, don’t we?

I really liked Stranger from Venus but I’m afraid that it might not go over well with everyone. If you are looking for a silly “B” Sci-Fi movie then this isn’t for you. There aren’t a lot of special effects and not a single rubber monster to terrorize the locals. Instead you have a normal looking guy that keeps trying to help everyone around him only to be taken advantage by the powers in charge. In this movie the human race is the monsters and the alien is the victim. That is a fun twist and is pretty classic science fiction trope. But again, if you wanted some silliness then you will be very disappointed.

I thought the cast was good, though I didn’t recognize most of them. The big exception to that was Patricia Neal, an American actress who worked for decades and was great in almost everything that she was in. Most nerds like me will remember her from The Day the Earth Stood Still, which is basically the same story as we get here only with a much larger budget. That movie came out four years before this one so I’m wondering if there was a bit of marketing in getting her in this movie. Her performance is great, as is that of the entire cast, so I don’t really mind it.

I’ve already mentioned the special effects work. This is a movie that couldn’t have cost that much to make as it has just a couple locations for the duration. We also don’t get a lot of flying saucer action until the very end. This movie is about the characters and story. I think they did a very good job bringing that to the screen. The movie is only seventy-five minutes long and that seems perfect. If you are looking for some good science fiction that isn’t focused on a monster, then I can highly recommend Stranger from Venus to you.


© Copyright 2021 John Shatzer

Wednesday, April 28, 2021

Eyes Behind the Stars (1978)

This was an interesting find for me. As I’ve mentioned before I have a huge stack of movies that I’m always meaning to watch. Every so often that pile becomes too large and falls over, which means it is time to dig in. This Italian science fiction flick caught my eye the last time they crashed down so I figured it was the universe telling me something. Let’s take a look at Eyes Behind the Stars.

The action starts with a photographer and his model working in the woods. He is taking a lot of pictures when they both start to feel creeped out. Instead of bailing he continues to shoot as he wants to get the work done. After developing the film, he notices strange figures in the background. The only thing is that neither of them saw anything while they were there. This leads him to go back into the woods and try to capture more shots. That is a terrible idea as the aliens, and yes, they are aliens, abduct him. Not only that they eventually get the model too, but not until she calls a reporter named Tony. While talking to her he “borrows” the negatives of the pictures. This is important later.

The rest of the movie is Tony along with a UFO expert and parttime Antiques dealer digging to discover the truth. Toss in the silencers, which is this movie’s version of the men in black, some aliens, the local cops, and the military for even more fun. Everyone is after the negatives and trying to cover up the existence of the visitors, so this makes Tony very popular. It all comes to an explosive and surprising end.

The Aliens
When I sat down to watch Eyes Behind the Stars, I was expecting a cheesy creature feature. That isn’t what I got at all. Instead, this is a fun thriller with lots of twists and turns. The UFO conspiracy theories are flying as we have not only aliens, but secret government projects, and a multinational shadow organization trying to hide things from the public. People get roughed up and even killed by these groups to hide the truth! The seventies were a weird decade where no one trusted “the man” and no conspiracy was discounted. That is why there are so many fun “documentaries” about bigfoot, UFOs, other cryptids, and anything else where someone could let their imagination run. This movie tosses a bunch of it at the audience, and I enjoyed the heck out of what I was watching.

The special effects aren’t great. The aliens are just guys in jumpsuits and helmets. Nothing worth diving into there. The miniature work is okay, but again nothing that is going to make you sit up in your chair. Most of the time we see the aliens moving around from a POV shot with a weird fisheye lens that I think works well. The movie also does a decent job using sound and light to not only let you know the visitors are around but when they attack as well. We get a little bit of action as there is one shootout as our main characters rescue someone from the silencers, but for the most part this isn’t an action-packed story.

Overall, I had a blast with Eyes Behind the Stars. I do wonder if it is partially due to my nostalgia for the decade when I first started watching flicks and my fascination with UFOs as a kid. Will this translate as well to someone who doesn’t share this experience? Not sure but I still think that it is worth checking out.


© Copyright 2021 John Shatzer

Monday, April 26, 2021

The Severed Arm (1973)

It should surprise no one who regularly visits this website that I’m a huge drive-in movie nerd. I love all the of cheesy fare that was shot for the passion pits of America. I’ve spent more than forty years tracking down and watching all of them that I could find. Yet somehow, I still stumble over hidden gems now and again. The Severed Arm is one of those. 

The action starts with a mysterious figure breaking into a morgue and chopping off an arm of a corpse. We then see them wrap it up and drop it in the mail. As a side note we watch a mailman make the special delivery and if you look really close it is Angus Scrimm! The man who gets the arm is named Jeff and he seems very disturbed by its arrival. He makes a call and heads off to see his friend Ray, who is a doctor. I only say this because when he arrives the doc opens up his liquor cabinet. God the seventies were cool…

Back to the story. The pair say it must be Ted, who is a raving maniac. Why is he like that? In an extended flashback we see that six men all went cave diving and got trapped underground. In an effort to hold off starvation they draw lots and much to his dismay lop off Ted’s arm for supper. Though immediately after the deed is done rescuers arrive to save them. That was terrible timing. As a group, except for poor old Ted, they all agree to lie and say he lost his arm in the cave-in. Ted goes crazy and ends up in an institution. But now it appears he is back for revenge. Sure, enough the five men in the conspiracy start to die and lose their right arms. Who lives and who dies? Is it Ted who is killing them? You will need to watch this movie to find out. 

A man has to eat!
I really do suggest that you guys check this one out. This is an excellent low budget movie that has an interesting story to tell and that keeps the action moving. The flashback works very well to setup what happens later. The dialogue is solid and the acting very good. There is some tension and a couple okay scares, which were appreciated. The cat and mouse game being played between the killer and his victims is also fun. I also like how well thought out the story is. They can’t go to the police without letting them in on what they did. Heck one of the men is a police detective! So they have to keep it secret and deal with the killer themselves, which I can let you know doesn’t go well. The Severed Arm is a well written movie. 

There are many familiar faces, mostly from television, in the cast. Marvin Kaplan, Paul Carr, and Deborah Walley should all be recognized by fans. They do a great job in their roles bringing the characters to life. Again, the writing is a huge help, but casting veteran actors in the roles doesn’t hurt. Far too many independent movies are drug down with bad writing and/or acting. With The Severed Arm this is a strength. 

For an early seventies’ movie, I was impressed with the level of gore. We see a few severed arms with lots of bright red blood on screen. There is more than once where the hatchet comes down again and again. While we don’t see it hit the editing is such that the attack feels violent and visceral. The body count is a bit light at only four, but the ending more than makes up for it. While not another kill it hints at a fate worse than death. This movie pulls no punches and I dig it for that. 

This is why I keep searching thru the piles of “to watch” movies. Sure, a lot of them end up being miserable but I’d sit thru ten of those (and have!) to get to one gem like The Severed Arm. I highly recommend that you find yourself a copy of this right away. It is worth your time and money. 

© Copyright 2021 John Shatzer

Friday, April 23, 2021

Intersect (2020)

This movie opens up with a camera zooming thru a strange alien world before stopping on some kind of creature. Then the camera pulls back, and we see a man standing over an injured woman. She tells him to remember and then dies. Immediately after that we see the same couple, Ryan and Caitlin, in bed together. Are you confused yet? If not, you will be. As the story unfolds it becomes obvious that it is being told out of order and jumping around. This I suppose was thought to be acceptable because this movie is about time travel. I’ll talk more about this later.

Be aware the next paragraph is choked full of spoilers so you may not want to read it. But honestly, I’m not going to recommend spending two hours on this movie, so I don’t feel bad about sharing. You have been warned. Thru a tedious two hours of jumping around, including an extended time spent with Ryan, Caitlin, and the third member of their little group Nate we find out one very important thing. There are creatures from another dimension that want to enter ours. To that end they have been filling Ryan’s mind with all sorts of formulas to help him build his time machine. They also have others they are influencing to manipulate a terrorist attack to rip open a portal to our dimension.

I could say more but I won’t. Intersect is trying very hard to be clever and I’ll admit that they do have some interesting twists in the story. But each and every one of them is so utterly predictable because as a science fiction fan I’ve seen it done already. In most cases much better than we get here. There are also things that seemed forced. Like Ryan mysteriously not remembering his little sister because… trauma. That is convenient because it allows him to block out the memory of the time traveling Nate who accidentally kills her. And the fact that his own adolescent self grabbed a gun and shot him.

That is what is wrong with the writing here. They are so enamored with trying to be smart that they end up chasing their tails and taking the audience with them. I think this is also the reason that the damn movie is almost two hours long. This was already a very dry and action less tale so this kills any chance they might have had to entertain. I mean did we really need the subplot explaining that the guy with the bomb was their bully from elementary school. Was it that important? No, it wasn’t. I have more examples, but I think you guys get the point.

There are a few decent CGI generated creatures, but this is inconsistent because at other times the effects aren’t very good. It is also clear that they were trying to reuse shots to get the most bang for their buck. I won’t complain too much about this because sadly we don’t really get many creatures. This plays more like a drama or pre-teen soap opera than it does science fiction. And don’t get sucked in like I do with the hinting of Lovecraftian creatures. There are some references for sure, but they don’t give us any creature related payoff.

In the end this movie is a total misfire for me. I’m a science fiction fan and aren’t afraid of movies that make me pay attention and think. But there is no payoff. Oh, and somehow yet again we have an independent filmmaker showing their characters watching Night of the Living Dead. Seriously stop showing me a much better movie in your less than stellar flick. I suggest passing on Intersect.


© Copyright 2021 John Shatzer

Thursday, April 22, 2021

Terminal Freeze by Lincoln Child

Ever since I reviewed Full Wolf Moon, I’ve wanted to check out more stories with Child’s Dr. Logan character. Like I mentioned in that review the character is the main protagonist in three of the five books that he appears in and a supporting character in two. Terminal Freeze is one of those where he is just there to move the story along, but it is what I found in my local used bookstore, so I figured why not. 

Our main character is Evan Marshall who is part of a team studying the effects of Global Warming. While working at an isolated decommissioned military station in Alaska he and the others discover a strange creature frozen in the ice. It is then that the reader finds out that their funding came from a production company that was hoping to make a documentary out of their findings. Well this creature is a sensational discovery and soon the base is filled with a production crew that nearly overwhelms the scientists and the skeleton crew of soldiers who serve as caretakers of the facility. 

Thru greed and hubris, the creature is pulled out of the ice and plans are made to thaw it on live television. Before that can happen, it unfreezes itself and wakes up. The prehistoric killing machine was alive in the ice! The bodies begin piling up while the survivors try to figure out how to destroy the thing. Bullets bounce off of it and electricity barely slows it down. This is further complicated by the fact that anyone near the creature feels an unbearable pressure in their heads and suffer overwhelming fear. 

I’m not going to spoil the ending so that is about all I’ll say about the story. What I can share is that Child again gives the reader a fast paced and engaging book with interesting characters that have depth. Some you can root for and others end up getting what they deserve in gratifying ways. There aren’t any real twists as the plot follows the expected formula of monster is found, people get killed, and eventually it is destroyed by the hero. The only thing that might pass for a twist is a little story from Dr. Logan where he gives an alternate theory of the creature’s origins. Not really a twist but a clever last minute what if from the author. 

I have to mention one thing that as a fan of classic science fiction movies I noticed and loved seeing in the book. At one point the characters think that electricity is the only way to kill the creature so they setup an elaborate trap for it. The plan includes a metal plate on the floor and a narrow hallway next to power station. Again, these characters are trapped in an isolated military station surrounded by the hostile frozen landscape. All I can say is that Child must have seen and been a fan of The Thing from Another World. 

I finished Terminal Freeze over a couple of days and enjoyed the heck out of it. Consider this one recommended. Now please excuse me while I head off to dig thru the stacks of my local used book shop looking for more goodies. Seriously I’m leaving right now to do so. 

© Copyright 2021 John Shatzer

Wednesday, April 21, 2021

Triggered (2020)

The title to this movie caught my eye and when I read the plot synopsis, I thought I’d check it out. We have a group of college aged kids coming back to town for what I think is their five-year high school reunion. They end up in the middle of the woods camping and partying when they all are gassed and wake up with bombs strapped to their chests. It is then that their high school science teacher walks into the clearing and tells them that they deserve this before shooting himself in the head. Later they find a missing friend who has more information about what is going on.

Each bomb has a timer. If it runs out, you go boom! The times are all different and the person with the least time has the lights on the device go read, while the person with the most is blue. There will be only one winner and the way to get more time is kill someone else and steal theirs. So, they have to murder each other to live. There is also a subplot about the teacher’s motives and why these kids were chosen that I won’t spoil here.

This is a decent movie. We have seen this sort of story so many times in the horror genre going back to Battle Royale. It has been copied in several movies with mixed results. Here the story is helped by the mystery of why they were picked and in the end which of them is actually responsible. Again, I’m keeping this vague because I don’t want to ruin it. Mostly because I don’t think that the movie will hold up well without the wait for the big reveal. Really don’t watch or read any spoilers to Triggered if you want to enjoy the flick.

The pacing is decent at the beginning where the characters are introduced, and we see where they fit in the story. The party guy, the bitchy girl, the smart girl, stoner dude, etc. There is one character that is presented as one of the stereotypes but ends up much differently. That was a clever twist and along with what I’ve already mentioned shows me that there were some attempts at switching things up and making this story unique. I appreciate that. At the same time, I do have to point out that after they know the rules to the game it becomes very much pair off and walk around in the woods and is predictable. This drags the proceedings down a bit in between the action sequences.

The gore is decent and shockingly a lot of it is practical. There are smashed heads, cut throats, explosions, kneecapping, and other gory bits. The camera doesn’t shy away from them either lingering on the kills showing us all we would want to see. My favorite gag is a knife to the eyeball. That is especially fun. Oddly enough they also go for some realism with characters not dying right away and again they linger on their agonizing deaths. I didn’t expect that, but it does make Triggered stand out.

Like I mentioned earlier this is a decent movie. While it does have a been there done that feel they do enough to make it stand out. And despite a few slow spots I do like the kills and the conclusion to the movie. I didn’t bring this up in my synopsis, but the ending is very cool. Again, I have to be careful to not spoil it. I’m going to recommend this one.


© Copyright 2021 John Shatzer

Monday, April 19, 2021

Witchcraft XVI: Hollywood Coven (2016)

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.

Okay so shit is going to get weird with this one. This is the third of the three movies that were shot together to make up fourteen, fifteen, and sixteen. As I would have expected this movie picks up right where the previous one ended. We see that Sharon the witch has hopped into another body and survived her killing. She kills the man she is passionately hugging and then the director yells cut. Wait… what the hell?

Things shift gears as we see that the actors from the movie are actually actors in a movie called Crystal Force XV. But the director suddenly announces that the reason that the franchise is so successful is that they sacrifice a cast member to ensure that the product is video rental gold. So he rips her heart out and then we see the actors from the previous movies at a table read for Crystal Force XVI. The actors are going by their character names but are playing different characters in the movie in the movie. Why? Because a coven is trying to activate a bunch of witches to take over Hollywood.

Hey, they tried something different. I appreciate that, though it is just as poorly written as the previous stories at least it isn’t a summoning. The dialogue is weird, the plot awkward, and they make no attempts to explain how it connects or why the actors in the Crystal Force movie have the names of the characters they played in the previous Witchcraft flicks. Also, this is obviously “inspired” by Wes Craven’s New Nightmare, so it isn’t all that creative. The worst part about the story is that they either didn’t have enough to fill out the entire runtime or didn’t know what to do with it.

Yes, my friends Hollywood Coven is one of the worst in the franchise when it comes to padding. From the very beginning where the opening credits go on and on, so much so that they actually have to restart the theme song to cover it. They also decide to use tons of footage from the previous movies as our characters here are assigned the job of watching earlier Crystal Force flicks as research for the roles they are about to take on. That is an excuse for us to watch not one scene but two where the cast sits on a couch while they/we watch old footage from earlier Witchcraft entries. This is some Camp Blood level shit and of course I will point towards David Sterling, producer of this and Camp Blood. I would like to remind everyone that they shot three movies at the same time and had maybe enough material for one. Way to bleed horror fans wallets dude.

Behind the scenes the shitty filmmaking continues. The audio levels are squirrely again with them changing from scene to scene and sometimes within the same scene. The camera work is chaotic as the focus keeps adjusting as the cast walks thru the scene. They double down with a camera that won’t stay still. It moves all the time like some bad found footage movie. That is completely unnecessary and feels like they just didn’t want to block the scenes and have the actors hit marks. The CGI is as bad as it has been in previous Witchcraft movies and honestly given that these were made only five years ago is unjustified. You could have easily done better.

I could go on, but I’m done talking about this franchise. Out of sixteen movies I can’t recommend a single one. That obviously includes Hollywood Coven as well. How can someone keep making such bad movies over and over again? Who is funding these things? Who is buying these things? You all need to stop right now!


Next up… nothing! This shit is finally over!


© Copyright 2021 John Shatzer


Sunday, April 18, 2021

Witchcraft XV: Blood Rose (2016)

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. 

As you know this is the second of three movies that are connected with a single storyline. In that movie Rose and William destroyed the angel of death preventing him from summoning the other half of himself from hell to destroy the world. They do love those summoning storylines in this franchise. But what are they going to do this time around? His right-hand lady, Sharon, uses Rose’s power to kill some people so that they can be used to summon the angel of death again. Seriously another summon a bad guy to destroy the world story? After some Freaky Friday style shenanigans and a few dead bodies William shows up in the nick of time to help Rose defeat the coven and prevent the resurrection from going down. There is a twist though that sets up the third and final movie.

Sitting thru Witchcraft XV is like watching paint dry. It is a tedious experience that leans heavily into a trick that the Camp Blood franchise, also from producer David Sterling, the reused footage. This movie is only an hour and twenty minutes long and the first nine of that is a flashback to the ending of the last movie cut into some lady-on-lady stuff to pad it out. But mostly it is just the end of the movie all over again. Then we get thrilling bits of talking on the phone, walking up stairs, “witty” banter between the cops (Lutz and Garner are back), and of course lots of reused naughty bits from earlier movies. Toss in six minutes of end credits and you can see they didn’t have much in the way of story. Did this really need to be three movies? Hell no it didn’t!

Continuing on I’m going to sound like a broken record. The audio is bad, the camera has issues staying in focus, and the acting… oh man the acting. The actor that plays William, Ryan Cleary, has zero emotion in his delivery. But hey that means let’s use him a lot more here than we did last time. That is a good idea, right? He isn’t the only bad actor in this one as the character I think they are going to try and make the new villain is an awful actress. Why make that choice? It is a Witchcraft movie so the decision tracks. 

Joe Bob Briggs fans might get a kick out of seeing Darcy, aka. Diana Prince as a hooker. Spoilers she apparently can’t keep her shirt on! Other than that, this is going to be another utterly forgettable exorcise in crappy cinema that never should have seen the light of day. I’m really getting annoyed. Don’t watch this or any other Witchcraft movie. 

Next up Witchcraft XVI: Hollywood Coven

© Copyright 2021 John Shatzer

Saturday, April 17, 2021

Witchcraft XIV: Angel of Death (2016)

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. 

Nearing the end of the Witchcraft franchise with just three to go. In an interesting twist all three were shot at the same time and are basically three parts of one much longer story. It is my understanding it was their attempt at telling an epic Witchcraft tale. Basically, like a shitty Lord of the Rings. Cool… I’m sure they are going to screw it up. 

William, Lutz, and Garner are all back and recast yet again. This time there is a girl named Rose who has powers which she uses to kill people that have pissed her off. But she feels guilty afterwards and tells her Mom that she is afraid she is a witch and has murdered them. She gets yelled at and sent to her room. But as soon as she is out of the frame her Mom calls someone to discuss her powers. So, she knows that Rose is a witch. 

Detectives Lutz and Garner are investigating the murders and run into William who was called by a friend that herself was the person on the other end of the line when Rose’s Mom made her call. Stuff happens, people get kidnapped, Yoga is done, and we find out that the Yoga studio owner is the angel of death. Well part of him as the other part is stuck in Hell and only Rose can set him free to fully destroy the world. But there has to be something else going on as the angel of death was having phone conversations with someone else all during their evil plan. Bad CGI magic fights happen, and everyone lives happily ever after. But wait there are two more movies with these characters so probably not. 

I want to give the filmmakers credit for trying to do something different with the three movies telling one giant story. That is very ambitious for a low budget project like this. Sadly, they just don’t seem to be up to it. The plot is again very thin and repeats the “summon something to destroy the world” plot that all of these flicks have used over and over. Any attempt at some other type of motivations for the villains would have been a welcome change, but nope. They very quickly flushed any interest I had down the toilette with this repetition. 

I didn’t think it was possible, but they continue the same mistakes from past flicks and even double down on some of them. The acting is terrible again with the new cast being even more inept than past ones. This is especially so of the actor playing William who upon hearing of his friend’s death gives a performance that has to be seen. It approaches Tommy Wiseau from the Room bad. Not quite there but close. 

The sound issues continue with dialogue that can’t be heard. But it also has music and dialogue that changes volume while in the scene that had me constantly turning my volume up an down. That is a new and very annoying thing. The camera that they used must have been a lower end one with auto focus because it keeps shifting in and out of focus as characters walk into and out of frame. There is also a fake knife that looks like one of those gag props you can buy at the Halloween stores that pop up ever October. None of this surprises me that much as these three movies were produced by David Sterling of Camp Blood infamy. 

These last couple movies are going to be hard to get thru if they are of the same quality as this one. I’ll do it because I’m stubborn, but damn. Obviously, I’m not recommending Witchcraft XIV: Angel of Death. 

Next up Witchcraft XV: Blood Rose

© Copyright 2021 John Shatzer

Friday, April 16, 2021

Witchcraft XIII: Blood of the Chosen (2008)

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.

These movies are getting so bad. As much as I’ve complained about it the only thing that the series had going for it was the softcore sleaze. The last couple entries including this one can’t even get that right. Instead, all it has to offer is the same story executed even more poorly than it has been done the eleven times before. Let me explain.

William is back again and has also been recast again. He is hanging out with his warlock buddy, because I guess there are good ones now, who helped him win a case. I think that is why he is dropping off some money for him. I say I think because the sound is terrible in this movie. Worse than it ever was before as I couldn’t hear at least half of the dialogue. That isn’t an exaggeration for the longest time I had no idea what the hell was going on. So anyway, he gives him an envelope of cash and then his pal leaves with a lady. A lady who rips out his heart when they are alone. How rude is that?

Now William is on the case and after arguing with some generic cop characters, thankfully no more Lutz played by Stephanie Beaton, he uses his warlock powers to see stuff. Not sure what because it makes no sense. But then he trails a cute blonde girl, and they get friendly. Of course, she is bad, but what can you do because she is hot. She tries to kill him but fails. Then William meets a sister looking for her brother who is obviously a bad guy too. There is some nonsense about if he, as the chosen one hooks up with the big bad evil leader their baby will rule the world for evil.

You know she is the leader, and they get frisky. Somehow William the all-powerful warlock is clueless of this fact. If I’ve learned one thing from the Witchcraft series, it is that if William would only pay attention the world would almost end a lot less often. So, there is this cave where the evil heart stealing ladies are chanting, and William crashes their “lets summon the big baddie” party. Some CGI pew pew pew happens, and we see that the sister is actually the big bad. Which of course we already knew that. But it is a shock to old William. She is also preggers with their child who is again going to rule the world. The big twist is that she is really William’s long lost sister… um gross.

The cops show up and shoot some folks and William does battle with his pregnant girlfriend/sister. This leads to some more CGI pew pew pew and he gets frustrated when she tells him he can’t stop her because he is basically a big wuss. That was probably a mistake as William gets pissed and rips out her heart! He also chews on it to take her power. No more sister or evil world ruling baby to worry about.

The music, acting, editing, sound, plot, dialogue, and everything else about this movie sucks. Thirteen movies in I’m done trying to be clever and repackage the same damn review for the same damn movie. Skip this one like all the rest. Of course, there are still three more for me to watch.


Up next Witchcraft XIV: Angel of Death (2016)


© Copyright 2021 John Shatzer


Thursday, April 15, 2021

Witchcraft XII: In the Lair of the Serpent (2002)

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.

God Damn it they did it to me again. No more Stephanie Beaton as Lutz, in fact there is no Lutz in this movie at all. But before I could breathe a sigh of relief the name Brad Sykes popped up as the director and writer. I believed I mentioned the other terrible horror franchise that I’ve reviewed this year, Camp Blood. Well guess who created and directed the first three installments of that franchise? If you guessed Brad Sykes, you would be right. I’m feeling that this might be the perfect shitstorm of awfulness.

We are back in Los Angeles and watch as a woman and man go bar hopping and end up in a strip club. The guy is Jeff, and the lady is his sister Cindy. Wait dude you took your sister to a nudie bar to drink? Okay then… Jeff hooks up with a girl on the way to the bathroom and leaves with her never to be seen alive again. That is a bummer. Then we see William pull up, it can be confusing because he has been recast again and visit Cindy. It seems that he was best friends with Jeff. He and Cindy also have a history together.

Being the super cool lawyer warlock that he is William figures out something bad is going on. So, he uses some magic to watch part of the movie that we already watched only upside down. That helps him get a license plate number and with an assist from the cops the tracks down the lady to was last seen with Jeff. Thru some rigamarole he eventually ends up face to face with the serpent god who is killing everyone, he uses the women to lure his sacrifices to him. Some lighting lasers shoot around, and the movie ends with William and Cindy watching home movies.

If you have been reading my reviews, you know that I don’t like the Witchcraft movies at all. I wanted to find one that wasn’t terrible as it is always my goal to unearth a hidden gem. But this franchise is the same recycled story that itself isn’t enough to fill fifteen minutes screen time padded out with nonsense that itself is an excuse to pop from one softcore naughty escapade to another. Having watched Sykes’ movies in the past I can tell you one very important fact, he can’t shoot those sorts of scenes. Are you beginning to see the problem?

We have a Witchcraft movie that while it tries doesn’t give the viewer the sleaze that has been promised and delivered from the previous ten or so movies. Again, I’m not a fan of this which should be abundantly clear by now. But damn it if you aren’t going to hang your hat on that sort of thing then that means you need a plot and characters. We also don’t get that which means this is a huge failure. It doesn’t even work as a crappy Witchcraft movie!

I could talk about the normal padding, but we have already beaten that horse to death. The bad guy spends most of the movie in a crappy Halloween mask and hooded robe shooting badly done laser lighting out of his eyes. The one highlight is when he is unmasked, and we see he is a snake god. That makeup job is actually really good for the low budget production that this is. I give them props for that. Sadly, that is the only good thing about Witchcraft XII: In the Lair of the Serpent. This is as bad as any of the previous eleven attempts, and they were all firmly in the miserably horrible territory. Skip this one like the rest.


Next up Witchcraft XIII: Blood of the Chosen


© Copyright 2021 John Shatzer

Wednesday, April 14, 2021

Witchcraft XI: Sisters in Blood (2000)

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.

This movie opens with a couple in bed, William and Kelly both recast with new actors, and jumps right to some simulated naughty time. There isn’t even any dialogue yet! That’s a new record for these movies. After that we find out that Kelly’s sister, Colleen, is in college and is doing a play. The director/professor wants authenticity so he encourages them to do actual witchcraft. They do and, in the process, summon the three witches. One by one they are possessed so they can summon the demon Abaddon.

Along the way they end up killing a dude that was peeping on them, because of course they had to be topless to cast the spell, which involves detectives Lutz and Garner. Oh god damn it Stephanie Beaton is back. They run into William and Kelly at the scene of the crime and together they end up stopping the witches possessing the girls and save the day. But not before there is a lot of rolling around in the sheets.

This is the same freaking plot again! Okay I guess it isn’t vampires and is instead some dead witches trying to summon a demon. But really it isn’t any different. At this point I don’t even know what I’m trying to review. This series clearly doesn’t care at all about plot and characters. I’ve mentioned that before, but this cements it in stone. How do I review something that isn’t trying to be a movie in the sense of actually telling a story? If you are out there and have that argument in your head, it is legit.

You know I don’t care what you intended to make. The minute someone tried to sell these and take people’s money you are responsible for making the product. These are sold as movies and fans are given the impression that is what they should expect including at least the attempt at telling a story. So damn it I’m going to be annoyed when you fail to do so. I’ve got five more of these things to watch and that is the standard I’m going to hold them to like it or not. Be prepared for me to keep beating this dead horse. Please allow me to continue.

Just like the previous movies while Witchcraft XI lacks plot it is filled with padding. From the extra-long opening credits to the unnecessary and odd photo shoot that isn’t explained with a single line of dialogue it is clear that they exist just to fill out ninety minutes. There are also phone calls, walking, and talking on the phone. None of which does a damn thing to develop any story.

I did notice something new. Not that it was great in the past, but the editing is terrible in this movie. There are two distinct plotlines one with the girls and the other with Lutz, William, and company. They do awkwardly intersect at the end, but I don’t think that most of the actors share a scene until then. This feels like a movie that was cobbled together from different shoots using what actors were available that day. It might not be the case, but something is obviously not right. The good news is that they seem to have fixed the audio issues that plagued previous entries so I can hear the dialogue. Which is awful.

I’m not going to waste any more time telling you not to watch Witchcraft XI: Sisters in Blood. It is a terrible movie you should skip. Sadly, my OCD and the fact that I promised to watch the rest of these is going to make me sit thru the last five. With that in mind…


Next up Witchcraft XII: In the Lair of the Serpent


© Copyright 2021 John Shatzer

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 upWitchcraft 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 up Witchcraft X: Mistress of the Craft


© 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