Witchcraft X: Mistress Of The Craft (1998)

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ROAD TRIP! Yes, ladies and gentlemen, “Witchcraft” is heading over the pond and bringing its high-octane brand of chills and thrills to dear old Blighty! Turns out, when you don’t ask permission, you can film wherever the hell you like, and thanks to the British producer who clearly offered more than anyone else for the rights to the “Witchcraft” name (so, about £5), London is the home to the 10th in this pointlessly durable franchise.

 

We have writer / producer / director Elisar Cabrera to thank for this move. He’s a fairly busy micro-budget producer over here, giving us…well, a ton of web TV shows and movies (mainly short films, admittedly); he was involved in trying to relaunch British wrestling as a serious TV product; made what appears to be an independent “Talking Dead” style discussion show about Dr Who, called “Talking Who”; and a sort of “Tosh.0” ripoff called “Those Video Guys”. He’s out there trying to make it happen still, and at the beginning of his career he directed several horror movies.

 

If you’re allergic to long, badly written, virtually inaudible info-dumps at the beginning of movies, then you’ll definitely want to avoid this. Celeste, a blonde woman, is sat in front of a large ugly lump of…something, and tells us all about Walpurgisnacht, and her ancient demonic enemy, and the Eye (the aforementioned lump) which gives her her power, and the coming battle, and so on. The movie was shot on video with sound recorded via the camera’s in-built microphone, it sounds like; so all the dialogue is horribly indistinct, and when there’s music playing in a scene (which is nearly all the time) you can barely hear what’s being said at all.

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It’s nice to know that rotten actors are the same the world over. Our villain is a face British horror fans will probably recognise, Eileen Daly (star of “Razor Blade Smile”, weirdly beloved for a few years back in the late 90s). She’s Raven, the leader of a team of female vampires, and one of her underlings is another familiar British face, Emily Booth (TV series “Bits”, tons of horror movies and segments for the Horror Channel here in the UK), right at the beginning of her career. They’re interested in a Californian Satanist called Hyde (Kerry Knowlton, a fellow who never acted before or since – or during, really), who’s being held by the mysterious Interpol spin-off group Section 17 somewhere in London, waiting for his extradition back to the USA. Coming over to take him back is Detective Lutz, the once bald and male, now red-haired and female, cop who’s been in the last several instalments, and is even played by the same actress as in part 9, Stephanie Beaton.

 

There’s a lot to write about, but a quick mention of a bet between my wife and I. She reckoned there’d be a sex scene in the first five minutes, and I, although I thought she might be right, took the bet. 6:30 is when the first tops are torn off, so I won, but in can’t-believe-this-series-has-never-done-it news, it’s vampire lesbians (well, they eat a bloke in the middle of it, so let’s call em bisexual). Later, there’s one extraordinary and almost interminable scene which intercuts two different (hetero) sex scenes with Lutz taking a bath, which was so dull it put me off sex. Still not quite as much as part 7, which has more sex than most hardcore porn movies, but up there.

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When Lutz arrives in the UK, she’s wearing the smallest tanktop imaginable, no bra and has huge boobs, meaning running is a constant struggle for her…I’m sorry, readers. It’s really difficult talking about these movies without discussing the incredible amounts of sex and nudity, and I worry I’m no good at it or sound a bit like an old pervert. Women can wear whatever the hell they like! If only what she wore in this movie had been her own choice! Anyway, she does appear in appropriate cop clothing…for one scene; she’s either naked, wrapped in a tiny towel, or wearing a tied-up man’s shirt (and no bra) for the rest of the movie. Oh, and all the women wear heels, all the time, lending some fight scenes a faintly ridiculous, but actually deeply sad, aspect.

 

The vampires free Hyde from Section 17, so it’s up to them and their new friend Detective Lutz to track them down; Celeste, who also works for Section 17, realises her magic Eye is part of some ancient prophecy / ritual thing, so when Hyde steals it the chase is really on to not just capture the criminal and kill the vampires, but save the world. Lutz develops a thing with British S 17 agent Chris (Sean Harry, a staggeringly poor actor who only ever worked again for this director), Celeste’s boyfriend gets kidnapped, so does the boss of S 17, and we’re on for a crash-bang-wallop finale with sacrifice and channeling demonic powers and staking vampires and all sorts.

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Of course, it’s nothing like as exciting as that. The finale, like every other moment of “Witchcraft 10”, is ugly, cheap, poorly acted, poorly directed, inaudible, and confusing. Celeste, for absolutely no reason whatsoever, wears a superhero outfit for the final battle; and talking clothes, all the male goons wear plain white shirts, and they’re either creased like they’ve never even seen an iron, or they’ve got the folds like they’ve just been taken out of a packet. But it’s not all clothes-related complaints. Count, if you like, the number of times a fight gets started, but the person losing just says “later!” and walks away, with the person on top letting them – hint: it’s a lot. Also, on at least two occasions, someone walks into a room, looks round, then goes to do something, only to be stopped an instant later by a baddie who MUST have been visible! It just looks incredibly stupid and for them to repeat the error is just embarrassing.

 

I keep waiting for this series to hit rock bottom, but they keep on digging. This is below amateur, although perhaps still a shade above what you’d expect to get from a couple of cheap camcorders and a group of friends over the course of a weekend. Booth, at least, appears able to detect even early in her career that this is a bit of a joke, and overacts accordingly; the evil blonde lady (whose name is never mentioned, and IMDB is no help as three-quarters of the cast have no photos) also seems somewhere close to okay. Everyone else, including Daly, the sole name of any sort in this thing, seems to have only had the concept of acting explained to them thirty seconds before walking on set.

 

Kerry Knowlton, aka Hyde, was also the fight co-ordinator for the movie, and if you were exceptionally kind you might say he’d stretched himself a little thin with the two jobs, leaving him utterly unable to do either. The fights are honestly pathetic, with everyone (including Knowlton himself) looking like malfunctioning robots. There’s also a significant gap between the sight of the impact and the sound of the impact, leading to what my friends on our regular Monday night movie club call “The Future Apple”. The decent Lovecraft adaptation “From Beyond” has a scene where the sound of someone eating an apple takes a good second to travel to our ears, so ever since then, that’s what dubbing problems are named. Every single fight in the movie is a Future Apple, my friends. How they saw this and went “yes, this is definitely ready to release” is a genuine puzzler to me.

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ISCFC LINK: “Scene with a nude lady filmed in the director’s own bathroom”. This joins “Red Lips” in that illustrious category. Thanks to the wonderful people at the Real In Memphis wrestling forum for that tidbit of info.

 

This is seriously mind-numbing. Like the ending, where they’d obviously cancelled the rent on the ugly empty office building but needed to film a goodbye scene, so just did it on the street, with the “boss of Section 17” actor wearing his normal clothes. Like so much of this film, with its seeming negative effort. I’d understand if it was a jaded old filmmaker who just wanted to get paid and go home, but if Cabrera had made something decent here, his career could have gone places. If he’d even tried, I’d have cut him some slack, but it’s just so shockingly bad! Look at “The Slashening”, which cost $6,000 to make. Now look at this, which is in the same ballpark of cost (the flight for Beaton must have been a grand). “The Slashening” looks like it cost $600,000, and “Witchcraft X” looks like it cost $6. If you’re with a group of friends and are drunk, this is an expert-level addition to your next bad movie night.

 

Rating: thumbs down

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4 thoughts on “Witchcraft X: Mistress Of The Craft (1998)

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