Friday, February 22, 2013

WITCHTRAP (MAGNUM ENTERTAINMENT - 1989)


Do you like "Witchboard?"  Of course you do, who doesn't?  Well despite this film being written and directed by Kevin Tenney of Witchboard fame, this motion picture is NOT A SEQUEL TO "WITCHBOARD!"  You will be alerted to this by a notice on the back of the handsome Magnum slip cover as well as a warning at the beginning of the movie itself.  This warning immediately succeeds a trailer to... wait for it... Witchboard.  But it's not a sequel.

It is impossible to begin to review Witchtrap without first addressing the sound, which is entirely dubbed.  Despite the movie's humble budget, (which was spent mostly on explosions, melt effects and Linnea Quigley), it is definitely a movie that wouldn't ordinarily be dubbed.  VHS Summer's own Max Dropout has a bit of insight into this from when he screened this film last year and spoke with the director - he may be able to provide an addendum as to why the original audio was compromised.  It certainly limits its effectiveness as a horror movie, but it adds a great deal of comedic levity, especially the one-liners from the main characters. (We had to get Kevin to the airport fairly early the day after the "Witchboard" screening, but we had breakfast at IHOP on the way to the airport. I was still groggy, and had a mouthful of pancakes when we talked about the audio, so my memory might be slightly warped. I do remember him telling me that the audio was lost -- but part of me recollects him telling me that it was actually stolen, which makes it even weirder. Who the fuck steals the audio for a film? That's an ultimate dickhead move since you can't really do anything practical with it. - M.D.)

The plot of the film surrounds a haunted mansion and its heir, Devon Lauter, who is bound not to sell or demolish it by the will of his deceased uncle, Avery Lauter  He is trying to rid the place of the lingering spirit of his uncle so he can turn the place into a B&B, and he assembles a crew to do the job.  Half of the crew are metaphysical types, half are detectives paid to run security for the operation, and Linnea Quigley is the A/V tech (niiiice!). From the get-go, it's fairly obvious who's going to live and who's going to die.  The story has some interesting points and is executed fairly well with some nice effects, but it's not really the plot that makes this a fun watch, it's the visual style and dialogue.

The banter between the detectives is hilarious.  With lines like, "He may be a walking hard-on with feet, but he's a good detective", and, "I wouldn't drink that if I were you... it's as flat as my ex-wife's chest", there's no shortage of laughs to be had, even if the viewer is laughing at, not with, these characters.  The main character, Tony Vicente, is the best casting job in the movie, by far.  He carries this movie with his partner, Levi Jackson, and their buddy cop vibe works pretty well.  The psychic-type people are thoroughly annoying with their pomposity and crybaby antics.  You start to really wish they would just die in dramatic fashion, which makes a few kill scenes extra enjoyable.  The antics of the Deliverance-worthy groundskeeper, Elwin, are perfectly peppered into the mix to provide a change of pace.

Overall, this movie has maximum camp because of the dubbing and is an interesting (enough) story with an engaging (enough) main character.  It has competent special effects and is visually pleasing from a technical standpoint. It's an interesting little flick that, like the spirit trapped in Laughter Mansion, will be confined forever to VHS.  Floating somewhere in the late '80s between "Witchboard" and "Witchboard 2," and featuring scream queen Quigley, Witchtrap does well to live up to its tagline "This time, it's not a game"....   wait, "game"... like a Ouija board? Last time!?!  JEEZ, IT'S NOT A SEQUEL!!

Sadly this film has no YouTube presence in English, however...


1 comment:

  1. I remember our old VHS player. I'm glad I was able to find someone that could switch the movies over to a disc. That saved my movie library.
    Bill | http://lamediaworks.com/faq/

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