At the beginning of this movie when I saw the scene of our hero discovering a witch dumping his severed head in her kitchen cauldron, I thought “awesome scene! Too bad we don’t get to see that more than once!”
Toward the end of the movie when I saw the scene of our hero discovering a witch dumping his severed head in her kitchen cauldron, I thought “awesome scene! Too bad we don’t get to see that more than twice!”
Then, at the very end the of the movie when I saw the scene of our hero discovering his new girlfriend was a witch and that she had a relative with a maggot-encrusted skull who chopped his head off with a scythe so that she could dump his severed head in her kitchen cauldron, I thought “this is like the special extended edition director’s cut of a scene that I’ve already sat through twice!”
Clearly, director Umberto Lenzi (Black Demons, Hitcher in the Dark) knows how to beat us over the head with a scene like a witch clubbing a priest with a fireplace poker, but he also knows that merely repeating the same dream sequence ad nauseam isn’t going to cut it at this level. Of course, the level I’m talking about is the Made-For-Italian-Cable-TV-Movie level.
The House of Witchcraft is just one of four films in the “Doomed Houses” series that also consists of Lenzi’s The House of Lost Souls and two from Lucio Fulci (The Sweet House Of Horrors and The House of Clocks) so Lenzi is obviously going to have to come with nothing less than his D+ game. And that’s just what he does!
Luke thinks he might be going crazy because he keeps having that dream about having a really fake-looking version of his head thrown in a witch’s cauldron. Luckily, his sister-in-law is a shrink who is trying to help him out. Doubly luckily for us, they have one of those conversations at the beginning of the movie where they helpfully explain to each other who they are and what their relationship to one another is.
You know how these conversations go: “Yes Elsa, we’ve been friends ever since you married my brother and produced a lovely daughter together. Then he had to go get killed in a car crash. And now my marriage isn’t working out because of my wife’s interest in the so-called occult sciences.” I wish my friends and family would talk like that in real life so I wouldn’t have to waste my time remembering who they were whenever I ran into them!
So what’s wrong with Luke’s marriage? Nothing, except that Luke’s wife Martha is a tarot-addicted shrew prone to sleepwalking and hating Elsa!
It’s only natural then that upon Luke’s release from the hospital that she rents a large country villa in a harebrained scheme to try and save their marriage.
After a rather pointless car accident that Martha mysteriously predicts killed two people, they arrive at the villa. Luke notices something a bit odd about the villa though. Even though he’s never been there before, it seems strangely familiar. Because it’s the exact same villa he dreams about having his head boiled in every single night!
Some folks might criticize Luke for not getting the hell out as soon as he recognizes this place, but it isn’t all bad news for Luke. He meets up with the owner’s hot blonde niece and eventually hooks up with her! She does turn out to be the witch that boils his severed head, but life’s full of trade-offs, right?
And so much good stuff happens in the villa, that you’re thankful Luke is as stupid as he looks!
Stabbed nerd dumped in well? Dopey hero beheaded by the grim reaper? Priest whupped upside his head by a witch? Filler car wreck? That’s like, four movies right there!
But Umberto wasn’t even started! He piled on so many more memorably malefic moments, I started to feel guilty! Did I really deserve to witness the invention of the maggot storm’s bastard cousin, the feather storm?
It all goes down when Luke messes with an amulet! The bed starts shooting feathers everywhere and then a mirror falls and a flower vase explodes causing Luke to have to duck to avoid being hit with the flowers!
And when Luke becomes convinced that his wife can turn into a black cat and he attempts to kill the cat by throwing a TV set at it and it explodes even though it isn’t plugged in, I thought I was going to explode as well!
But when I am on my deathbed decades from now and am whispering with my last breath about my favorite moment from The House of Witchcraft, it won’t be any of the above. “Come closer,” I’ll tell my family and friends. “Before I go to that big Italian cable TV movie in the sky, there is much I must speak of.”
And then I will proceed to relate how Umberto had a scene in this movie where it was snowing in the basement of the villa while Luke’s ugly niece is choking her mother! Are you kidding me? Did you just do that to Fulci and his wimpy “House” movies?
Lots of other crap goes on – suicide, pickaxe death, bleeding plants that smell like dead bodies, Luke arranging for a seeing eye dog to eat his wife, but at that point, it’s all academic. When you play the Basement Blizzard Card with no explanation, the rest of it just reeks of running up the score on all those other also-ran made-for-Italian-cable-TV-movies.
If only Umberto had thought to use that head in the cauldron bit just one more time. Oh wait! He did! After a winter wonderland stabbing, the niece’s head find’s it’s way into the cauldron, too! This one gets four heads in a cauldron out of five!
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