In collaboration with a selection of the finest film blogs the internet has to offer The Manchester Morgue is proud to contribute to Blair Week, a six day extravaganza expounding on the virtues of Linda Blair and her legacy of quality motion pictures. Here you have... Witchery!
At the end of the eighties Linda Blair was far down in the cinematic food chain. After showing up in the beginning and the end of "Savage Island", just to make that movie sell in the US (and make a quick buck I guess), and Italian action-flicks like "Bersaglio sull'autostrada", it probably was destiny to finally work for legendary sleaze-producer Joe D'Amato in one of his US-shot production, Witchery (or La Casa 4 aka Witchcraft). She wasn't alone in this one. David Hasselhoff shows his hairy chest and German legendary film star (who looks a bit... alcoholic) Hildegard Knef plays the the main baddie!
Once upon a time an excentric movie star (Hildegard Knef) bought an island and the big house on it. Her last movie was also shot there, but she bought the rights to it and saw that it would never be shown in public. Many years after her death, the house is for sale and this gathers a bunch of victims... uh, sorry, people. David Hasselhoff is there with his virgin-girlfriend (who also happens to be interested in witchery) to investigate "The Witch Light", a strange light that people have seen on the island for years. An old rich couple, (Annie Ross and Robert Champagne) are also there with the nymphomatic real estate agent and her collegue, their pregnant daughter (a very pink Linda Blair) and little son (or maybe it's Linda's son, I don't know).
Of course there's an evil plan with all this. The witch, or ghost... something, wants three sacrifices to open the portal to the dark side, and starts to kill the guests one by one, often by luring them into a trap and torturing them in what other dimension she's in. One gets the lips sew together and burned, another one is crucified, a third one gets a very bloody bladder-effect massive demise... and finally she possesses Linda Blair (who else?) and attacks the others with all the powers that she has!
No, Witchery is far from a masterpiece and lacks that infamous atmosphere that a lot of the D'Amato-produced productions from this time had. The location is nice, but with boring lighting and a bit to generic story it never lift itself up from the trash-movie basement. What I like about it is the actors. Linda Blair probably just got her paycheck and did her normal possessed-routine, but injects some fun into the character. And I always admire an actress who gives it all when pretending to be sucked down a bathtub without any special effects at all. In the end she's back from the Excorcist with pointy hair and shaky facial expressions, fun fun fun.
Hildegard Knef seem to have a lot of fun with her witch and Hasselhoff, who I actually like when ever he’s not in something Bay Watch-related, makes a good hero. When I think about it though, Knef and Hasselhoff are the only ones in the cast together with Annie Ross and Robert Champagne that have a lot of fun. But overall, everyone makes their best.
But the highlight is the gore. Yes, it’s not the goriest Italian-produced horror movie ever, but it’s way bloodier than I remember from seeing it the first time. Theres a juicy and detailed sewing the lips together, some splashes of blood during the crucifiction, a woman being burned alive, a scene where the arteries of a man explodes in gush of über-red blood. It’s just enough for me, and it adds spice to an ok but very generic horror movie.
Watch it for the cast and the gore, but just don’t expect anything out of the ordinary.......
----Our colleagues are bringing fresh Linda related content all week long:
Monday May 10:
Lost Video Archive - Savage Streets
Satan's Hope Chest - Chained Heat and Savage Island
Camp Movie Camp - Grotesque
The Horror Section - Hell Night
Full Moon Reviews - Bailout
Illogical Contraption gets Repossessed
Lines That Makes Things drops original Linda inspired artwork
Breakfast In the Ruins - Exorcist II
B Movies and Beyond - Summer of Fear
Camp Movie Camp - Nightforce
The Manchester Morgue - Rollerboogie
Happy Otter - The Chilling
Ninja Dixon - The Witchery
Lost Video Archive - Born Innocent
Unflinching Eye wraps it up with a look at Linda's fall from grace.