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 Reviews: the WITCHCRAFT series
William S. Wilson
Posted: Mar 24 2006, 02:25 PM


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Inspired by Grady Hendrix’s thread and Marty McKee’s BLOODFIST viewing adventure, I have taken it upon myself to try and watch all the films in the WITCHCRAFT series. After all, a series that has risen up to 13 sequels must contain some sort of redeeming quality right? Utilizing the 99 cent Tuesday deal at my local video store, I hope to have a review done a week. Hopefully my sanity lasts as long. I should also point out that I will make no attempt at personal responsibility and if I indeed go crazy, I will blame Grady and Marty!

And away we go!

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

user posted image

WITCHCRAFT (1988)
Starring Anat Topal-Barzilai, Gary Sloan, Mary Shelley, Deborah Scott
Directed by Rob Spera

From the Academy VHS:

“A young couple suspected of performing sacrificial satanic rituals is dragged from their home by an angry mob, tied to a cross and burned alive. With them dies the mother’s unborn child. Today, after wandering the depths of hell for three centuries - they’ve returned! This time nothing will stop them from bearing their child – the son of Satan!”

Rule #6 in classy moviemaking: misspell something in the opening credits. Yes, the first in the WITCHCRAFT series stomps its cinematic foot and lets the audience know where it is coming from with a screen credit that reads “Origional story." Adding insult to the spelling injury, how dare they call this original! Hmmm, satanists using an innocent woman as a vessel to deliver the Son of Satan? Dang that reminds me of something…a forgettable movie from the 60s by some Frano-Polish dude. Something BABY.

Even worse than the blatant story lifting is the fact that WITCHCRAFT is just plain boring. Sure there is some fun to be had deciding where the plot points were pillaged from (in addition to ROSEMARY’S BABY, it also rips off THE OMEN and THE AMITYVILLE HORROR) but then you start to realize you have seen it done before and much better. The film also commits the B-movie sin of not upping the exploitation factor. If you are going to have bad actors, at least have them do their attempts at “performing” while getting splashed with blood. Or while in the nude. Or both. As it stands, the film offers nothing lure viewers in and away from product that does deliver the goods. The only interesting thing I took away from this one is that it was filmed in the same home that was the neighbor’s house in THE IMMORTALIZER (1991) and that ain't in Massachusetts! And knowing that I recognized it made me die just a little bit more inside.

The acting is about what one would expect for this type of film. Anat Topal-Barzilai, daughter of Topol, speaks with a thick accent but that is covered when a nurse says, “We love your wife’s accent.” Gary Sloan (billed as Edward Ross Newton; strange for a guy with one film to his credit) keeps flipping his British accent on and off as the sinister husband/warlock. Director Rob Spera handles the film well enough. I mean it is shot in focus and he isn’t afraid to use a dolly shot or wide angle lenses here and there. Unfortunately the film was edited with un-state of the art equipment circa 1988. There are some of the most awful wipes and video toaster effects you will ever see in this film. The score by Randy Miller is one of the worst synthesizer pieces I have ever heard. If these two technical flaws had been corrected, there is a chance that the end product would have been a tiny bit better. Regardless, it still would have sucked to high hell. I have a feeling I am in for a rough ride with this series.

Quick “Joe Bob” body count:
-2 barbequed witches
-2 parent suicides
-1 polluted priest suicide
-1 best friend beheading
-1 laughable disemboweled cat
-1 warlock stabbing & meltdown
-1 witch stabbing & meltdown


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Eric Cotenas
Posted: Mar 29 2006, 07:07 AM


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I wondered on another forum if this film was perhaps inspired by the run of witchcraft films around the time that started with SUPERSTITION and included such rip-offs as WITCH STORY (apparently called SUPERSTITION 2 in some places), GHOSTHOUSE and WITCHERY. One wonders if the series would've continued on in a gore horror vein (and ended a lot earlier) if not for the "erotic thriller" craze of the early nineties.

I take it that Fabrizio Laurenti's awful WITCHERY was retitled as such because of the WITCHCRAFT film (the export title of Laurenti's LA CASA entry was also WITCHCRAFT).


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William S. Wilson
Posted: Mar 29 2006, 10:32 AM


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QUOTE
One wonders if the series would've continued on in a gore horror vein (and ended a lot earlier) if not for the "erotic thriller" craze of the early nineties.

That is a sound hypothesis. I just watched pt. 2 last night and they definitely added the erotic element. I suppose by pt. 4 it will be in full effect.
QUOTE
I take it that Fabrizio Laurenti's awful WITCHERY was retitled as such because of the WITCHCRAFT film

Oddly enough, the guy who co-wrote WITCHCRAFT II was a supervising producer on WITCHERY.

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user posted image

WITCHCRAFT II: THE TEMPTRESS (1992)
Starring Charles Solomon, Delia Sheppard, Mia Ruiz, Jay Richardson, Cheryl Janecky
Directed by Mark Woods

From the VHS:

“Young Will was the perfect son. Until a diabolically sensual new woman entered his life. And introduced him to his true identity. A destiny that would continue the 300-year-old horror begun by his hell-spawned warlock father. And plunge him into a blood-soaked, black magic battle to save the world from Satan’s new Dark Age of chaos and evil. Now, only the power of a pure, virgin spirit can rescue Will’s soul – from the mind-bending pleasures of the irresistible she-demon called The Temptress!”

Much like the first WITCHCRAFT, this sequel wants to create lots of questions but never answer them. The film opens with pt. 1’s evil mother/witch Elizabeth Stocton (again played by Mary Shelley) casting a spell over a blonde woman’s body. Where Elizabeth is, how she is alive and why she is able to do this are never explained and she is never seen again. The blonde woman is the next door neighbor of William, the tiny Satan spawn from the first one who is now grown up and ready to go to college. Not being very subtle, she walks around in tight outfits with a Pentagram around her neck (which no one, even the witch characters, seem to notice) and tries to seduce Will into the world of Satan.

This is actually a vast improvement over the first film. Director Mark Woods actually delivers a film that looks like a real movie. Gone are the chintzy video effects and terrible score. Woods actually films some scene with a sense of style. Best of all, the filmmakers must have gotten the “nudity” memo and actually threw some bare flesh into the mix. Unfortunately they didn’t get the “blood” memo and the film is virtually bloodless. Woe is me. And I do commend them for actually keeping the storyline from the original film going. They could have easily just gone and filmed whatever and slapped the WITCHCRAFT name on it. But no, these producers have integrity.

The cast is much better this go around with the best performance coming from Fred Olen Ray alum Jay Richardson. Lead Charles Solomon is probably in his late 20s but looks 35 and is supposed to be 18. That is a bit odd. And I know you see Richardson and Solomon’s name together and you immediately think THE CHANNELER (1990)! Yes, this is a virtual CHANNELER reunion with those two and David Homb (as a teenage named Boomer!) all popping up. Lead Temptress Delia Sheppard is actually pretty tempting until she starts to speak. I guess she thinks Vitches sound lah-ke wampires. The film actually opens with a disclaimer saying this is not a depiction of real witches and warlocks. Who knew the hocus-pocus lobby was so vocal?

W2: THE TEMPTRESS bloodless bodycount:
-1 nerdy girl (because she wears glasses) belly flop on concrete
-1 stepmom stabbing
-1 stepdad bashing
-1 priest spontaneous combustion
-1 Temptress piercing with sharp cross (always handy)

Guys who’ve played William in the WITCHCRAFT series:
-Ross Newton (W1)
-Charles Solomon (W2)


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David White
Posted: Mar 30 2006, 09:53 PM


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Can I just say that I have wondered for years if anyone would be brave enough to watch and review all the films from this series. You are truly taking one for the team!

D.
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Steve Phillips
Posted: Mar 31 2006, 09:57 AM


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He'll never make it!
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Marty Langford
Posted: Mar 31 2006, 10:35 AM


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QUOTE
He'll never make it!

I agree.

And don't consider yourself a failure when you do pack it in, William. It was a noble effort.

This post has been edited by Marty Langford on Mar 31 2006, 10:35 AM


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William S. Wilson
Posted: Mar 31 2006, 12:24 PM


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QUOTE
He'll never make it!

You pessimism fuels my hunger! And after watching pt. 3 last night, I need all the help I can get.

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

user posted image

WITCHCRAFT III: THE KISS OF DEATH (1991)
Starring Charles Solomon, Lisa Toothman, Domonic Luciana, William L. Baker
Directed by Rachel Feldman (billed as R.L. Tillmanns)

From the VHS:

“Suppressing memories of a past poisoned by black magic, William Spanner struggles to live the illusion of a normal life. Then his world is invaded by the supernaturally sensual Louis Daminelli. After the handsome drifter murders one of William’s legal adversaries, and then seduces William’s fiancée, he is revealed as a diabolically powerful psychic, devouring the living essence of his victims to continue his ageless, inhuman existence. William is forced to invoke the forbidden magic of his warlock father – gathering mystical strength for an apocalyptic, supernatural showdown with the sinister force that awaits him.”

Oh, and we were doing so well.

When I originally caught these first few WITCHCRAFT films in the early 90s, I quit after this one. Revisiting it, I can see why. This is the nadir of direct to video devil worship. Much like the lead, I must have suppressed my horrible memories. But I was stupid enough to return!

Rather than bore you with a review, I will just give you quick thoughts from the WITCHCRAFT III files.

-Baby William Churchill became William Adams in the second film and William Spanner in this one. No reason is given for the name change but he sticks with this one.

-the movie carries a 1991 copyright date while its predecessor has a 1992 one. Me thinks the second one was really shot in 1989/90.

-the screenplay strives in part to be TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD with Spanner now a lawyer who is defending a young black man accused of rape; MOCKINGBIRD didn’t have nude shower scenes.

-a strain of voodoo is introduced because it was all the rage in the late 80s in Hollywood cinema.

-the sex factor has been upped and we get nudity in the first few minutes. Unfortunately we also get the return of the cheesy video effects and bad music.

-what is the likelihood of a soul sucking monster running into the Son of Satan in LA? Pretty high I would say.

-who knew an apocalyptic showdown would involve two men wrestling on the floor of an apartment?

-Director Rachel Feldman took a pseudonym on this. I say she should have to own up because I fault her for everything that makes this movie bad (pacing, lighting, acting, camerawork). Amazingly, she still works today.

-the film runs 85 minutes but seriously feels like 4 hours.

-Charles Solomon sounds like a Southern Keanu Reeves; at least he looks his age this time.

-lead heavy Domonic Luciana is a dead ringer for Christian Bale. He hasn’t done anything else.

-if I ever meet anyone associated with this film, I will punch them. Hard.

Bodycount:
-1 bar floozy
-1 restaurant floozy
-1 pugnacious public prosecutor
-1 voodoo priest
-1 soul sucker accomplice
-1 soul sucker

Guys who’ve played William in the WITCHCRAFT series:
-Ross Newton (W1)
-Charles Solomon (W2, W3)


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Marc Edward Heuck
Posted: Mar 31 2006, 05:52 PM


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QUOTE (William S. Wilson @ Mar 29 2006, 10:32 AM)
The film opens with pt. 1’s evil mother/witch Elizabeth Stocton...

One of my closest friends is named Elizabeth Stockton.

user posted image

She's certainly not a witch, but she's the kinda girl who'd tell you to go to Hell, and you'd be packing a bag that night happy to make the trip. biggrin.gif
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David White
Posted: Apr 1 2006, 09:18 AM


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William -

These other guys are tryin' to break you down. Don't let 'em! Keep that left hook extended but guard your face. We don't want a knock out, here, because the trick is to stay in the ring for all thirteen rounds. Just keep on dancin', you hear me? It's the only way to stay out of their reach. And then every once in awhile, sucker punch 'em with another review.

You can do this, kid. We believe in you.

D.
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William S. Wilson
Posted: Apr 5 2006, 07:49 PM


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QUOTE
These other guys are tryin' to break you down. Don't let 'em! Keep that left hook extended but guard your face. We don't want a knock out, here, because the trick is to stay in the ring for all thirteen rounds. Just keep on dancin', you hear me? It's the only way to stay out of their reach. And then every once in awhile, sucker punch 'em with another review.

You can do this, kid. We believe in you.

David,

Thanks for the support. You are no doubt the Paulie to my Rocky. Wait, does that mean I will lose the first fight?

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

user posted image

WITCHCRAFT IV: THE VIRGIN HEART (1992)
Starring Charles Solomon, Julie Strain, Clive Pearson, Lisa Jay Harrington
Directed by James Merendino

From the VHS:

“Investigating a case of ghastly sacrificial murders, attorney Will Spanner finds himself pulled into a deadly, sinister underworld of ravishing strippers, bloody rituals, and the diabolical ‘Legend of the Blues’ – where the Devil himself bargains for the souls of desperate musicians. Descending ever deeper into his enemy’s satanic trap, Will’s only hope is to use his own black magic powers and to recruit the help of a supernaturally sensuous stripper. Only together can they conquer the soul-stealing madness pulsing within…the Virgin Heart.”

After WITCHCRAFT III tested my limits as both a viewer and human being, I wasn’t too excited for the next entry in this series. So imagine my surprise when it turns out to be passable. Yes! Passable is great with these films. Don’t get me wrong, it is still a rough ride but I have found myself getting to know the series better and actually somewhat excited to see the screenwriters expand its universe. Yes, I am sick.

I will give screenwriters James Merendino and Michael Paul Girard credit. Their story plays like an old school detective movie complete with voice over narration. They also made me think (during a WITCHCRAFT movie!?!) because the villain is revealed to be the Devil’s son who is collecting souls of musicians and trying to brainwash the masses via radio. “But I thought Will Spanner was the Devil’s son,” I said to myself. Indeed his is and this guy is his brother! Even better, they set the viewer up when it is exposed that Spanner was set up the whole time. Damn, I was going to write a whole paragraph about how easy his detective work was for him but it turns out they actually put some thought into the script (a first for the series). Turns out the Son of Satan gets duped pretty easily. Merendino also filmed this like a real movie. He later went on to great success with SLC PUNK (1999) and, so far, that makes him the WITCHCRAFT series most booming alumni.

Solemn Charles Solomon gives his final performance as Will Spanner with this one. I finally figured out who he looks like – a bigger version of Bill Pullman but with a raucous Southern accent of course. I am going to miss him because I think he found his groove here and I really enjoyed his work. He seems to shout at most people. What? Who? Huh? 50 dollars? Naturally the dialogue lends itself to his acting style. Take this amazing exchange for example.

Will: I found out who B.D. is. It’s a stripper named Belladonna.
Lily: Really?
Will: Yeah. Anyway…
Lily: Was she pretty?
Will: WHO?
Lily: The stripper stupid.
Will: Oh. Yeah…well…she was alright.

If you can’t get into Solomon’s style, then check out Julie Strain as Belladonna. Oh my. I guess I can now see why her last name is Strain. She is incredibly bad. I am sure that her being a former Penthouse Pet had nothing to do with her getting the gig. Also, sharp eyed viewers will catch future X-rated film star Sunset Thomas (billed as Diane Fowler) as the first victim.

The film had me concerned because only two off screen deaths occurred in the first hour. Thankfully, things picked up in the last half hour.

Bodycount:
-1 blonde with heart ripped out
-1 blonde soon to have heart ripped out
-1 meddling musician
-2 of Spanner’s bros underlings
-1 warlock brother
-1 lying femme fatale

Guys who’ve played William in the WITCHCRAFT series:
-Ross Newton (W1)
-Charles Solomon (W2, W3, W4)

“Gee Whiz” file material for WITCHCRAFT IV:
-Actress Sha Bennett, who played the mother of the boy Spanner defended in pt. 3, appears here in a different role as a lady who runs a voodoo shop. When Spanner first meets her he says, “Don’t I know you from somewhere?” Cute.

-Current horror director Jeremy (ATTIC EXPEDITIONS, THE WIZARD OF GORE remake) Kasten has one brief scene as a college radio station manager and sports a look that would make Pauly Shore jealous. Thankfully he found directing.

-Charles Solomon isn’t credited with anything after this. WHAT? WHY? WHERE?


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William S. Wilson
Posted: Apr 12 2006, 08:33 PM


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Before I give you my latest review, I just wanted to point something out that may shock you. The Video Hound review book is a sham! I looked up their reviews for the WITCHCRAFT series and all they consist of bad ratings (naturally) and synopses taken directly from the back of the boxes. Not a single piece of criticism that would lead me to believe they saw any of these films. In essence, they aren't keeping it real.

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

user posted image

WITCHCRAFT V: DANCE WITH THE DEVIL (1993)
Starring Marklen Kennedy, Carolyn Taye-Loren, David Huffman, Nicole Sassaman
Directed by Talen Hsu

From the VHS:

“Some people will do anything for sex, fame, and fortune…anything. Sought out for his black magic powers, attorney Will Spanner falls under the spell of Marta, the supernaturally seductive assistant of a mysteriously powerful hypnotist called Cain. As Marta exercises her lustful hold over Will, Cain’s true mission is revealed: to collect enough souls for his satanic rise to power, ruling the earth in the shadow of the Evil One. Will’s dark desire drives him to aid Marta in her increasingly unholy acts for her master.”

Why do I find that first line so apt for this series? Yes, I am up to the fifth installment of the series and it isn’t getting any better. Well, it is a little bit better but that is like saying you are happy because a sadistic torturer chose to shove a clean nail into your eye as opposed to a rusty one.

WITCHCRAFT V is a classic “just happens” movie. By that I mean people and things show up that just happens to be integral to the plot. For example (prepare for huge run on sentence), in the first few minutes Marta just happens to run over a homeless guy who just happens to be fallen angel Softra (!), who just happens to transfer his soul into passing Reverend Meredith, who also just happens to be the Reverend of Will Spanner’s girlfriend while aforementioned Marta just happens to run into Cain in the hills. Yes, all that "just happens" in the first 10 minutes. And Cain, you guessed it, just happens to be looking for Will Spanner who just happens to show up at a bar the next night where Cain just happens to be putting on a magic show. Whew!

This entry sees some changes to the series. Most notably, the sex factor is upped significantly. I thought I was watching RED SHOE WITCHCRAFT. I guess the producers finally realized what sells and they even flash a graphic before the film letting you know it is the “unrated version.” This increase in sexual trysts probably explains the replacement of awkward Charles Solomon with hunkier Marklen Kennedy as Will Spanner. Looking like an actual Kennedy, Marklen has the hard task of lying there while women constantly lick him. Sadly for him, this was his only WITCHCRAFT appearance, making him the George Lazenby of the series. The acting is probably the best all around in the series so far. Lead villain David Huffman, looking like Bill Maher with Michael Bolton’s hair, is very able as Cain (ah, boo yourself!). Somewhere a summer Shakespeare festival is missing its lead. The film’s highlight is his assistant Marta played by Nicole Sassaman. You may remember her as “Topless Sorority Girl” in ROCK AND ROLL FANTASY (1992). Or you may not. Anyway, she provides a lot of the film's ample nudity and is quite a looker.

The series also takes another major change in that it returns a majority of the action to the house where the original film was set. Holy continuity, WITCHCRAFT screenwriters! I was expecting a nod here or there but this is totally unheard of. I appreciate it though. But they pissed me off by making Will Spanner a total loser and pushover. I know Will Spanner and he wouldn’t let some goofy hypnotist work him so easily. He is the Son of Satan after all! So I just took away the cool points you got for returning the action to the main house. We’re even now.

The series does continue its honored tradition of delivering some funny dialogue. Here are a couple of great lines. First we have Will Spanner’s girlfriend Keli on the phone with the doctor after Will attacked her.

Keli: “It was like he had supernatural strength or something. Uh huh. And all that talk about Satan. [pause] No, he didn’t mention any other names. [pause] Why?”

And there is this classic exchange right before the mandatory catfight.

Marta: “Well, well, well. Come here to save your little Will?”
Keli: “Where is he?”
Marta: “He’s doing our bidding. It’s too late. He belongs to me now.”
Keli (tackling Marta): “Bitch!”

As it stands, this entry was decent. And by that I mean it didn’t make time seem like it was standing still.

Bodycount:
-1 gullible john
-1 fallen angel infested bum
-1 law breaking boyfriend
-1 cigar chomping bar owner
-1 good witch
-1 soul sellin’ rocker dude
-1 sumptuous sacrifice
-1 diabolical assistant named Marta
-1 guy named Cain

Guys who’ve played William in the WITCHCRAFT series:
-Ross Newton (W1)
-Charles Solomon (W2, W3, W4)
-Marklen Kennedy (W5)

Useless info for WITCHCRAFT V:

-the Academy VHS tape for the film is blue

-Director Talent Who…sorry, Talen Hsu went on to do a pretty decent Gary Daniels film called FATAL BLADE.

-James Merendino, director of pt. 4, is co-writer of the screenplay.

-So far Tony Miller has edited all 5 WITCHCRAFT films and is the only recurring player outside of producer Jerry Feifer. Feifer’s son Michael got a producing gig beginning with this one. Nepotism…grrrrrrrrr.

-And my favorite bit of trivia: the good witch Anastasia is played by Aysha Hauer, daughter of one Rutger Hauer.


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Bill Picard
Posted: Apr 25 2006, 07:28 PM


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Don't give up now, William!
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William S. Wilson
Posted: Apr 25 2006, 07:35 PM


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QUOTE
Don't give up now, William!

Ha! I just returned from the store with WITCHCRAFT VII. Of course, I still need to review VI.


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William S. Wilson
Posted: Jun 4 2006, 04:06 PM


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user posted image

WITCHCRAFT VI: THE DEVIL’S MISTRESS (1994)
Starring Jerry Spicer, Bryan Nutter, Shannon McLeod, Kurt Alan, John E. Holiday
Directed by Julie Davis

From the DVD:

“When a Satanic Serial Killer begins hunting down nubile young women wearing gold crosses, only Supernatural Attorney Will Spanner, with the powers of good on his side, can stop him. Braving a bevy of bare breasts and beastly brutes, Will works his way to the Evil Forces behind the killings and goes to war against the hounds of hell! Directed by Julie Davis (Amy's O), Witchcraft 666 is the sultriest, sexiest witchcraft of them all!”

Yes, I’m back at it! I took a much needed break from the WITCHCRAFT series. I just did too much, too soon. 5 WITCHCRAFT films in just over 2 weeks nearly killed me. It changed me. I was always in a foul mood. I would come home and kick my dog for no reason. I even began questioning my existence…a lot more! To paraphrase Steve Martin in PLANES, TRAINS AND AUTOMOBILES, “I could tolerate any insurance seminar. For days I could sit there and listen to them go on and on with a big smile on my face. They'd say, ‘How can you stand it?’ I'd say, 'Because I've seen the WITCHCRAFT series. I can take anything."

But having a chance to cleanse myself, I feel it is safe to step back into the cinematic void that is the WITCHCRAFT series. Truth be told, I started this one way back in the first run but just couldn’t bring myself to finish it. It is really that bad. It is competently shot and actually features decent acting. It is just so boring. The script is terrible and the filmmakers try to compensate by featuring tons of nude scenes (oddly enough, a scene in a strip club features no nudity!). But when you have seen one steamy WITCHCRAFT sex scene, you have seen them all. I think the real reason I was put off is series regular Will Spanner is now a blonde. WHAT!?! Don’t they know how boldly that flies in the face of WITCHCRAFT mythology?

If this entry should be noted for anything, it is the introduction of the Lutz and Garner characters, two detectives who apparently end up becoming series regulars alongside Spanner. The fact that a little TV series called THE X-FILES was making big waves at the time probably has absolutely nothing to do with this decision. Kurt Alan, who plays Lutz and looks like a miniature William Atherton, is probably the best actor to have appeared in the entire series. Strangely, his only other film credit is BIKINI MED SCHOOL of the same year.

Bodycount:
-1 non-virgin
-1 more non-virgin
-1 equally non-virgin
-1 buff Beelzebub bodyguard
-1 sexy seductress
-1 balding Devil disciple

Guys who’ve played William in the WITCHCRAFT series:
-Ross Newton (W1)
-Charles Solomon (W2, W3, W4)
-Marklen Kennedy (W5)
-Jerry Spicer (W6)

Useless info for WITCHCRAFT VI:

-the most interesting thing on the tape is a trailer for the film MODEL BY DAY (1994) starring Famke Janssen as a model who dons a costume at night to avenge womankind! How come that can’t be a 12 part series?

-Director Julie Davis went on to make the indie comedies I LOVE YOU DON’T TOUCH ME (1997) and AMY’S O (2001).


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Marty Langford
Posted: Jun 4 2006, 04:35 PM


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Great to see you back at it, William. You're at the half way point... stay strong.


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William S. Wilson
Posted: Jan 8 2008, 10:01 PM


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Don't call it a comeback! Yes, I took a much needed year and half (!) off to get away from this series. But today's release of WITCHCRAFT XIII on DVD has reignited my fire and I have WITCHCRAFTs 8-11 headed my way. Yes, I may be slow but I'm not a quitter dammit. No series can make me quit!

And away we go...

user posted image

From the IMDb:
"Will Spanner is at it again, battling sex starved beautiful demon vampires in the seventh installment of this series. Will enlists the help of cops Lutz and Garner to bring down the evil vampire Martin and his beautiful erotic demonic slaves."

I mentioned in my review for the first WITCHCRAFT film that you can tell a quality production from spelling errors in the opening credits. Well, there are no spelling errors in this film's opening credits. Good job guys! Now, if only the guys who print up the video boxes don't screw it up...D'OH! (see above sleeve) Ah, it works in the UK I guess.

Yup, Satan's good son Will Spanner is back and - most importantly - is no longer a blond. Yes, this entry respects canon and gives Will back his brown hair. Also returning are Detectives Garner and Lutz and it looks like they lucked out too. Garner - mid-40s and bald in part 6 - is now early 30s, handsome, and sporting a full head of hair. Lutz - a blond William Atheron look-a-like in part 6 - is now a chick! Wow, what a difference a year makes.

Our intrepid trio are investigating the Polytechnic Institute, a group of Eurotrashers looking to control the entire US blood bank supply. Now if I say Eurotrash and blood, that can only mean one thing - vampires! Yup, this is the first WITCHCRAFT film to actually feature absolutely no witchcraft in it. Instead we get vampires ripping off clothes and biting necks.

The film ends with a big shocker as Will Spanner is stone cold dead! Even worse, the eighth entry is a stand alone one with no connection (big mistakes suckers), so I will have to wait until part 9 to find how ol' Will gets out of this one. I'm hoping for a GHOST-type rip off.

Bodycount:
-1 prostitute killed by a vampire
-1 gullible male jogger killed by resurrected prostitute
-1 resurrected prostitute killed by Spanner
-1 decapitated security guard
-1 vampire PR guy shot
-1 vampire Renfield wannabe shot
-1 Will Spanner, lead of the series, impaled
-1 Eurotrash vampire leader impaled

Guys who’ve played William in the WITCHCRAFT series:
-Ross Newton (W1)
-Charles Solomon (W2, W3, W4)
-Marklen Kennedy (W5)
-Jerry Spicer (W6)
-David Byrnes (W7)

Not so interesting WITCHCRAFT 7 facts:

-director Michael Paul Girard co-wrote part 4 of this series; he returns to helm part 9 (a WITCHCRAFT first)

-part 8 SALEM'S GHOST has no connection to this intricate series. Rumor has it WITCHCRAFT fans rioted in the streets of Salem.

-this entry may feature the most nudity per running time of the entire series so far.

-Will Spanner's girlfriend Kelly (aka Keli) has been a recurring character since part 5.


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William S. Wilson
Posted: Jan 9 2008, 10:34 AM


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One great thing about doing reviews now is that I can exploit my love of YouTube and force you guys (well, at least try) to suffer through some WITCHCRAFT clips. Behold the bloodiest bit in WITCHCRAFT 7 with a bad acting bonus:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oBWkECFGHRI


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William S. Wilson
Posted: Nov 26 2009, 05:14 PM


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Joined: 17-October 04



Since most people are thinking of turkeys today, I can't think of a better time to bring you a new WITCHCRAFT review. That and the constant ribbing from Mr. McKee and Mr. Picard has really been eating away at me. Behold...

user posted image

WITCHCRAFT VIII: SALEM'S GHOST (1996)
Starring Lee Grober, Kim Kopf, Tom Overmyer, David Weills and Jack van Landingham
Directed by Joesph John Barmettler

From the VHS box:
"The power, horror and desire pent up for 300 years is unleashed in the nightmare of blood lust from Salem's ghost. After being burned at the stake, a feared and ferocious warlock reawakens to erupt a violent and erotic terror on an unsuspecting couple. An inferno of lust and desire spews unimaginable horror that will strike you straight into the heart. Feel the power of Witchcraft."

So the WITCHCRAFT powers that be tried to do something different for the eighth entry in the series and ditched the Satan's good son character Will Spanner and went for the "Couple moves into the cursed house in Salem" route. Hey, it worked for THE AMITYVILLE CURSE, right? The plot briefly - college professor Sonny (Grober) and his wife Mary Anne (Kopf) move into the cursed house. A nosy neighbor (Weills) ends up unleashing the warlock's spirit (van Landingham) after he tries to solve a plumbing problem in the basement. Hey, isn't this the plot of THE BEYOND? This results in lots of crazy dream sequences before priest/exorcist Clarence McArthur (Overmyer) shows up to kick the warlock's butt like his ancestors did back in ol' 1692.

I know what you are thinking - how can they abandon the great storyline of the previous 7 entries. Well, not to worry as all of the requisite sex is still here. On the down side, lead Grober looks like a tiny Chevy Chase (with the same hair) and has almost all of the sex scenes (including an absolutely disgusting 9 1/2 WEEKS riff where he and his wife pour honey on each other). Even Wellis, looking like a pudgier Beau Bridges crossed with Alex Jones, gets a sex scene. I truly pitied the ladies who had to undress and cavort with them. So the sex factor is again high, they just decided to be subversive and cast ugly men. Well, except for the guy who plays warlock Simon Renfro. He is some muscle-bound dude always in leather pants (no shirt) with a goatee and enough bad tattoos to front a mid-90s rock band. I will give the filmmakers credit for bringing back hottie Mai-Lis Holmes from part 7 as a different character.

Director Joesph John Barmettler was writing PM Entertainment action vehicles at the time so it is strange that he makes an exploitation film so stilted. I will give him credit for the scene where the warlock's spirit is released and the first thing it does is, no joke, look up the skirts of some school girls. Barmettler even copies the famous "priest arriving in fog via taxi" scene from THE EXORCIST. His problem? He shoots it in broad daylight (!) with fog that looks like he had the crew chain smoking directly off camera. Barmettler also fails in the body count department, delivering a series low tally of four (with two of those being the same guy). The film's gore highlight is another famous riff as Irish priest McArthur - you know he is Irish because he says lines like, "It was passed down by me ancestors" - is impaled by a weather vane a la THE OMEN.

The biggest enjoyment I got from the film was during the end credits where the cheesy metal entry "The Warlock Song" played. Sample lyrics: "Good and evil/side by side/who will prevail/only fate will decide." I also got a kick out the following credits back-to-back:

Weather Vane by Dr. John Fromberg
Set Masseur Dr. John Fromberg

No doubt the producers were flooded with negative mail after this one because they switched back to the Will Spanner storyline for part 9.

Bodycount:
-1 wicked warlock
-1 provincial priest
-1 possessed neighbor
-1 wicked warlock (again)

Guys who’ve played William in the WITCHCRAFT series:
-Ross Newton (W1)
-Charles Solomon (W2, W3, W4)
-Marklen Kennedy (W5)
-Jerry Spicer (W6)
-David Byrnes (W7)

Not so interesting WITCHCRAFT 8 facts:

-director Joseph John Barmettler's first gig in the film industry was as Associate Producer on WITCHCRAFT II.

-this entry has no connection to the previous 7 films outside of featuring some witchcraft.

-lead baddie Jack van Landingham also goes by the names Jack Valan and Roren Sumner; he played one of the monsters in Concorde's THE TERROR WITHIN (1989).

-Miriam Cutler provided the scores for parts 2-8; this was her last entry.


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John Charles
Posted: Nov 26 2009, 05:39 PM


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Nice work, Will, though by this point, I'd be wishing that I had chosen to write about the JEEPERS CREEPERS series instead!
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Bill Picard
Posted: Nov 26 2009, 06:09 PM


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Joined: 17-October 04



The combination of the typtophan kicking in and a new WITCHCRAFT entry from Wilson makes me feel unimaginably happy. The world is beautiful tonight.

Eight down, five to go!
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