In one corner, you have the dark arts and all their reality-bending power to possess people, kill them, and general ability to string together unconnected scenes of bad special effects mayhem. In the other corner is David “the Hoff” Hasselhoff, lifeguard and talking-car pal.
If you think I’m about to reveal who wins out in this review, forget it! I will tell you though that in true Italian horror movie fashion, a Sesame Street brand tape recorder turns out to be more powerful than both of them combined!
Witchery also supplements the usual Italian hijinks and the Hoff with a cast that could have only appeared in an Italian movie starring the Hoff!
There’s a sweaty and pregnant Linda Blair, the Hoff’s one-time wife Catherine Hickland who also played Virgin in Robowar, but who is now playing a nympho architect, and Leslie Cumming who plays a virgin and whose only other credit was in another Italian trash epic, Zombie 5: Killing Birds!
Like all great ideas, the movie’s story is pretty simple: Eight idiots get themselves stranded at an abandoned island hotel that’s haunted by an old hag witch. In the hands of someone who didn’t direct Contamination .7 this could have been your standard stalk and slash affair where people are picked off one by one in the various deserted rooms of the hotel. To be fair, technically, that is what happens, but director Fabrizio Laurenti does it all with a certain zest for the offbeat.
For most of the movie the Hoff looks to be most upset by his repeatedly rebuffed attempts to lay his virgin friend. For her part the virgin owns every single scene she is in because of her utter lack of command of the English language.
At various times she sounds drunk, sleepy, like she has marbles in her mouth, is on a obscene cocktail of prescription drugs, like she’s saying each word for the very first time in her entire life, and as if she’s mentally retarded. That she insists on referring to the Hoff by his unconvincing movie name “Gary” only adds to the audience’s delight.
The Hoff really comes alive in the second part of the film when he abandons his efforts to bust cherry and gets on with busting witches. Sometimes you just have to sacrifice for the greater good and no one knows this more than the Hoff!
The Hoff is doing everything he can to push back the forces of darkness. He’s dodging flying furniture and falling shutters, he’s getting caught in sliding doors, he’s using a flare gun AND a camera flash bulb to attract rescuers. He’s even tying off a guy’s gushing arm with a necktie tourniquet!
It’s during this scene where the Hoff pulls out all his thespian chops. While trying to help this guy out, he notices his jugular vein is pulsating and the Hoff makes a face like the dude just crapped his pants.
Both the Hoff and us knew what was coming next and just like clockwork the guy’s vein bursts open spewing a geyser of red fluid right in the Hoff’s face! Can you imagine how glad the Hoff was when he found out Baywatch was going to be a regular TV series the next year?
But the valiant efforts of the Hoff, the virgin, and the sweaty, pregnant Linda Blair would be wasted if Laurenti couldn’t come through in the horror department. You needn’t worry. Remember, this is the guy who had us watching folks get their eyes poked out by tree roots in Contamination .7!
There’s a good healthy catalog of heinousness in this film to keep pace with his all-star cast. You’ve got a mouth sewn shut, a person or two gets burned alive, there’s a nice crucifixion, a fetus gets gnawed on, an impaling on a swordfish, some voodoo, people going out windows, stabbings, an old fashioned possession and even a ghost rape for good measure. You also not only get Linda Blair in a hilarious fright wig, but as a bonus, you get a stunt Linda Blair in an even funnier wig during a particularly physical scene!
This movie doesn’t even let up with the last frame of film! There’s the classic shock ending you’ve seen in 500 other movies, but once again it’s Laurenti’s execution that leaves you in convulsions of laughter. The combination of the way the final line is delivered with the freeze frame of the character’s brain damaged expression is frankly worth twice the price the DVD cost.
Let me put it this way: Francois Trauffaut’s The 400 Blows was the very best use of the ending freeze frame. Until the release of Witchery!
Please do yourself a favor and buy this movie. It’s essential for every collection. And you’ll feel extra awesome knowing that the Hoff is getting a royalty check of like three cents because of your excellent taste.
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