Witchcraft XII: In The Lair Of The Serpent (2002)

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For those of you worrying I was losing my mind after quite liking part 11, be reassured that as I walked my dog this morning, I tried to remember what part 12 was about and couldn’t remember a damn thing. Nothing whatsoever came to mind: but that’s why I make notes and drink strong coffee, and I’m now quite sad as I realise I have to recap this movie.

 

First up, right off the bat, we have the opening credits, and I laughed as I saw the incredible cheapness and cost-cutting on display. Look at the image below, and notice it’s just the logo from part 1, with “XII” crudely slapped on top of it. Well done sirs! The opening scene thankfully sets our expectations at a correct level – cheap shot-on-video footage of a couple, Jeff and Cindy, walking through a sleazy back alley, before he takes her (we later discover they’re brother and sister) to a strip club. I know that’s where I take my sisters for a night out! Even weirder, he immediately abandons her to go home with one of the ladies working there; she turns out to be a witch, and he turns out to be dead.

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Into town comes our old friend Will Spanner, who’s been lawyering in Seattle. He’s friends with the brother and sister from high school, and pops over to attend the laying to rest and comfort Cindy; and in case you were wondering, he’s a psychic who can do powerful magic now. A break from the thrill-a-minute excitement of the recap to talk about these two actors – Chip James as Will, and Janet Tracy Keijser as Cindy. It’s a little like watching Manchester United take on a junior school 5-a-side team; she’s really good, and he’s absolutely terrible. James, in what’s becoming a tradition for the actors playing Will, has this and a bit part in one other movie as his entire resume (two movies too many if you ask me – BOOM), whereas Keijser is a totally decent working actress. She’s also got a bit of a classy look about her, so when she does the inevitable repeated nude scenes, you almost feel bad. She hops out of the shower, finds Will and then immediately hops back in the shower (with him) – her water bill must be through the roof.

 

So, there’s a masked villain called Malleus, and he controls a bunch of strippers, who seduce men and lead them to be sacrificed, presumably to open some portal or other. It’s a pretty regular occurrence in this series, if we’re being honest –as is the main bad guy seeing Will for the first time and saying “you will be my final sacrifice because of your great power”. Best guess – writer / director Brad Sykes had never seen any of the other “Witchcraft” movies (not that I blame him). Lending credence to this idea is series regulars Keli, Detective Lutz and Detective Garner are nowhere to be seen.

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The witch actresses are shockingly bad, like failed auditionees for a porn movie bad. Hell, pretty much everyone apart from Keijser stinks, even compared to the rest of this series, never mind a normal movie. The cop who helps Will out; the captain; the coroner (the same guy who played the priest who committed suicide in the last movie); these are all people who, according to IMDB, realised acting wasn’t the job for them and quickly got out of the business. Probably for the best. But it’s not just the actors that stink – the special effects, when they come, are high-school-production levels of cheap. Apart from Malleus’ face, when we finally see it, which looks good (and therefore was probably borrowed from a prop house where a higher budget movie had made it). The final set, with all the painted symbols and altars, is an embarrassment and everyone involved should be ashamed. And the fight scenes! You had more impressive looking fights at infant school.

 

I like compiling the weirdnesses of low-budget cinema, where stuff gets press-ganged into use as other stuff. My favourite one in “Witchcraft 12” was when Will allowed himself to be seduced by one of the evil ladies, and asked to use the bathroom. Turns out her bathroom is a storage facility for huge speakers and what looks like most of a rock band’s stage set – they snuck into that building and by golly they were going to use every bit of it they could! Compared to this, Cindy’s run from bed to the front door…wearing heels!…is small potatoes.

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There’s plenty of magic in this one, with both Malleus and Will using eye-lasers, and a book of spells Will is carrying being central to the plot; so that’s a mark in the plus column, at least. But it’s just so cheap and miserable looking. I can’t even be bothered to think of a pithy insult for it, is how bad it is. Watch Janet Keijser in something better and avoid this one like the plague.

 

Rating: thumbs down

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