Well, we come to the end of another horror franchise. Okay, there are sequels planned for this year, but in terms of sequels to series we’ve already covered, I’m a bit more interested in “Phantasm 5” than I am parts 14, 15 and 16 of this. I hope no-one reading thinks it would be a laugh to watch the series – with the exception of part 10, which is a so-bad-it’s-good gem, “Witchcraft” ought to be avoided like the plague. Actually, like several plagues.
It’s been 6 years since the last instalment, but luckily some things never change in this world, and one of those things is “murky sex scenes”. Right off the bat, we can be clear who this series is aimed at, as a young gorgeous woman takes a pudgy guy back to a hotel room and partially disrobes before ripping his heart out of his chest. Luckily, to combat this swathe of unwilling heart donation we’ve got good old dependable boring lawyer Will Spanner around, thanks to being asked for help by a pair of cops, one of whom used to date our old friend Detective Lutz. Now, one of the two cops has a couple of prominent neck tattoos, and I’m willing to bet $1000 that tattoos above the collar line are a complete no-no for people in that line of work. But anyway.
This mention of Lutz, and the moderately clever way they resolve the “whoops, Lutz changed genders” plot hole, is one of several signs of continuity, that the writers actually watched the other movies in the series. Will’s changing surname (in parts 1-3) is referenced, as is Keli, and there are a few other deep cuts as well. Now, this doesn’t mean that it’s any good, but it’s a step in the right direction. If you’ve got 12 films of stuff to refer to, why not? Although if you’re going to bring in a pair of cops, why not just recast Lutz and Garner again?
There’s a mysterious blonde woman who seduces Will, and it turns out she’s one of the heart-ripping witches, although all she wants is some of “Little Will”…well, that and to try and kill him, but he’s too powerful for her. It turns out Will is able to resist anything except temptation, as even right at the end, when his life’s on the line, he almost succumbs to the two lovely ladies who will definitely kill him as soon as the deed is done. In a better film, it’d be a running gag, but here it’s just background noise. For those of you not paying attention, the main evil woman at the end isn’t Will’s secretary, they just confusingly cast two women who look almost identical in very different parts.
Ultimately, it’s just another of those ultra low budget movies set in hotel rooms, whatever sleazy back alleys and dive bars that you don’t need permits to film in, and one terribly decorated set. Everyone in it looks a bit like an actor, only not quite as attractive or talented; the special effects are sort of bottom end of tolerable; and the lighting! So I don’t have to keep repeating myself, I made a little “meme” featuring an image from the first sex scene (it’s not like any of the others are any better).
Oh yes, Will gets 666 carved into the back of his neck – just a meaningless thing, put in there because someone read “Satanism = 666 = witches” and needed a few more minutes of script. And he uses powers freely, shooting lightning and fire at the evil witches – one can’t help but think that several of the previous instalments would have gone a lot quicker if Will had been more willing to use his enormous magical powers to fry his enemies. There’s a weird version of the Quickening from “Highlander” when one witch eats another’s heart, which is sort of an interesting idea.
But it’s been done before, over and over again. That feeling of déjà vu is very strong, as I feel like a broken record writing “some evil person wants Will’s power to open a portal to hell”. That is literally the plot of over half these 13 movies, and honestly? I’m sick and tired of it.
I feel a worse person for having sat through the “Witchcraft” series. They started off bad and got worse, and I’m prepared to bet good money that, the occasional actor or crew member aside, not a single person involved in any of them cared in the slightest about making them good. I know the movies are a business, with art or entertainment coming second, but second is still in the race! With these, entertainment was shot in the paddock before the race started, or blew up on the starting grid, or whatever analogy you’d like to use. To a film, they’re cynical attempts to trick enough people out of enough dollars that they can turn a small profit and continue the circle of crap. They’re pretty deeply sexist, too, with women there as ornaments – the one woman with any agency in this series, Detective Lutz, wears ludicrous micro mini-skirts and heels at the best of times; all the rest of them are strippers or evil witches whose sole purpose is to trap men, have sex with them and kill them.
But then, I knew what I was getting into before I started – even though there’s still no reason to make them this bad. Having seen “The Disco Exorcist” recently, a film chock full of sex and nudity, made for very little money but really good fun, I know it can be done. Don’t settle for garbage like this, readers.
Rating: thumbs down