Sunday, November 25, 2012

Witchery (Fabrizio Laurenti, 1988)

The floors are creaky, the doors are literally falling off their hinges, and, oh yeah, there's this local legend about a pregnant witch who committed suicide by jumping out of one its many windows a couple hundred years ago. In other words, I don't envy the real estate agent who has the daunting task of trying to sell the giant house at the centre of Witchery (a.k.a. Evil Encounters), a film that begs the question...Actually, I can't quite remember what the question was that this particular film was begging at the moment. But I promise that you'll be the first to tell when I do.  Anyway, that doesn't sound too bad. I mean, with a little baby powder (trust me, it's perfect for creaky floors) and a quick trip to the hinge store (be sure to check out Martina Hingis' Hinge Bin on Yonge St. just south of St. Clair - They do hinges right!), you should have no problem selling that creepy house located on a small, isolated island off the coast of, oh, let's say, Delaware (hey, I saw a lighthouse at one point, so, I could be right). Okay, but what about the pregnant witch who committed suicide? Big deal. Pregnant witches sometimes commit suicide, what are you going to do? Yeah, but I heard the reason she killed herself was because the locals wanted to burn her at the stake. Aren't you gonna tell the prospective buyers about the witch legend? Hell, no. Besides, I'm 100% sure that the female realtor who accompanied the family who want to purchase the property is wearing a silky white slip underneath her conservative realty clothes. In fact, I'm having trouble concentrating on anything else because of that damned slip.
Holy crap! I just remembered what question this film begs. And that is, why did they even bring her along? Bring who along? The lithesome Linda Sullivan (Catherine Hickland), that's who. Who the fuck is that? Why, she's only the leggiest real estate agent this side of the Potomac River; and believe me, I've sampled the gams attached to a plethora of shapely real estate agents. From Indian Head, Maryland to Woodmont, West Virginia, I've sampled them all. Oh, and  to answer your question, the house hunters in Witchery brought her along in order to make sure the local real estate agent doesn't screw them over, and to give them an estimate on how much it will cost to renovate the dump.
Excuse me, but I find your obsession with Delaware and Catherine Hickland to be a tad disorienting. Really? Why is that? Well, the movie stars Linda Blair and David Hasselhoff, yet here you are, talking about flipping houses and leggy real estate agents. I guess you're not familiar with the way I operate. You see, Catherine Hickland (quick quirky fun-fact: Catherine Hickland was married to David Hasselhoff at the time this film was made) makes several attempts to be sexy in this film. On the other hand, Linda Blair does not. It's true, her character is pregnant. But that is no excuse. 
Changing gears for a second, remember that witch I mentioned earlier? Well, the film, directed by Fabrizio Laurenti, starts with a scene that finds a pregnant woman in the 1600s being chased a bunch of folks who look like they work at Black Creek Pioneer Village (all Toronto children under twelve are forced to go there at least once). Wielding pitchforks and boasting demenour that can best be described as belligerent, the mob corner the woman in a stately manor. Trapped, the woman sees no other recourse but to jump out of a second floor window. Just as she's about to hit the ground, Jane (Linda Blair) suddenly wakes up as if she just had a nightmare in a movie. Pregnant herself, Jane wonders what the dream could mean. I'm curious as well, but I'm more curious about her headboard bookcase; it's fabulous!
Meanwhile, on the very island Jane's nightmare took place, Leslie (Leslie Cumming), a writer interested in witches, and Gary (David Hasselhoff), a photographer with a deep-seated interest in poontang, are exploring the house. In fact, they're currently standing by the window the woman from Janes's nightmare jumped out of back in the 1600s. Hold on. I've got to get this off my chest before I continue. I don't who decided to cast Leslie Cumming as David Hasselhoff's virginal brunette girlfriend, but she's got to be one of the worst actresses I ever seen. Seriously, she has no business being in movies. It got so bad, that I started to feel sorry for Herr Hasselhoff as the film progressed. It must have been pure hell to exchange dialogue with an actress with no charisma whatsoever. 
While walking down the street, Jane spots the mysterious Lady in Black (Hildegard Knef) standing on the sidewalk. Staring at her in a menacing manner, the Lady in Black starts messing around with some kind of crystal pendant thingie. Seconds later, Jane is nearly killed by a falling girder. What's going on here? Wait a minute. Is that evil I smell?
Content that her creepy confrontation with Jane went as well as creepy confrontations go, the Lady in Black decides to strike while iron is hot and heads over to the park to act creepy in front of Tommy (Michael Manchester), Jane's nephew. Call me a poor judge of creepiness, but I can't decide who was more creepy, the Lady in Black or Tommy. Yeah, you heard me. I don't know, there was something not quite right about this Tommy kid. Listen to the way he asks the Lady in Black for his ball back, it's downright terrifying. Have you ever thought that maybe he's just a bad actor? You have a point there, as some of his line readings are atrocious. Some of his line readings? Okay, fine, all of them. Nonetheless, he's creepy me the fuck out.
What I can't understand is why David Hasselhoff's character would date a virgin. Not to be crass, but the Hoff needs pussy on a semi-regular basis. All right, forget about the virgin thing. What I'd like to know is, why is he seeing a woman who does nothing but mope around while mumbling incoherent nonsense about witches? She's totally not his type. Either way, Gary tries multiple times over the of the course of the film to set in motion a scenario where his penis penetrates her vagina, but he's repeatedly denied the privilege.
A real estate agent named Linda Sullivan (Catherine Hickland) is hired by Jane's parents Rose (Annie Ross) and Freddie Brooks (Robert Champagne) to given them estimate on a house they plan on purchasing. Pretty mundane stuff, right? Wrong! The sexy Catherine Hickland receives the call while standing over her boyfriend in nothing but a towel. Oh yeah, getting good news over the phone while wearing a towel is the epitome of hot. The way her boyfriend, whose name is not even close to being important, stares at her legs as she stood over him was tantalizingly awesome. I'd go as so far to say that it's the film's best leg far.
Wait, "so far"? You mean there will be more leg moments to come? What do you think? Actually, I think another one is about to transpire right this second. Let's watch, shall we?
Sitting in the office of the local realtor, Rose and Freddie Brooks discuss the property they might want to purchase with Tony Giordano (Rick Farnsworth), the son of the guy who runs the realty agency; in the other words, this is a big sale for him (make daddy proud, Tony). At any rate, as they're talking about the house in question, Freddie seems preoccupied.
Was it the cheeky cat calendar hanging on the wall? No, I don't think so. How about that cup full of pens? I doubt it. If it wasn't any of those things, what could it be? I'll tell you what it was, it was the leg scratch heard around the world. All right, maybe it wasn't heard around the world. However, I bet it was heard all along the Eastern seaboard. Which, if you think about it, is still one pretty impressive scratch.
Who's doing the scratching? Oh yeah, sorry about that. Sitting at her desk in a yellow top paired with a black skirt, Jenny Lee (Victoria Biggers), the office's brunette secretary, suddenly feels an itch on her right thigh. In order to alleviate this irritating sensation, Jenny Lee takes her right hand and fashions the fingers of said right hand in a manner that causes it to look like a claw. Taking this newly created claw, Jenny Lee gingerly brushes it over the affected area several times.
As she's doing this, Jenny Lee can't help but notice that Freddie, who should be listening to what Tony is blathering about, is checking out the pleasing shape of her secretarial thighs. Slightly annoyed by this untoward leering, Jenny Lee ceases to scratch her thigh.
I know what you're thinking, where was Linda Sullivan during all this thigh scratching excitement? She was stuck in traffic. It's too bad, she missed quite the show. Which reminds me, why didn't anyone offer Victoria Biggers the opportunity to play Leslie Cumming's part? And why not? Anyone, and I mean, anyone, would have been better than her. Jeez, we get it. She sucks. Let it go, man. Yeah, but Victoria Biggers has shapely thighs and manged to scratch one of them in a semi-convincing manner. No, you're right. She probably would have been the better choice. But there's nothing you can do to change the fact that Leslie Cumming landed the role of David Hasselhoff's virginal girlfriend in Witchery, and that Victoria Biggers was stuck with a non-speaking, scratching only role.
Did you just say that Victoria Biggers doesn't have any lines?!? If that's the case, how do you know she would have been better than Leslie Cumming? Trust me, she would have been better. You might not be able to seem them, but all the people out there who have seen Witchery are nodding their heads in agreement.
Eventually all the characters end up getting stranded on the island. Sure, they're trapped inside a giant mansion (which I suppose isn't the worst place to be stranded). But you have got to remember, the Lady in Black is lurking around somewhere upstairs. One by one, each character gets the opportunity to scream awkwardly while immersed in red lighting. Well, actually, I don't recall seeing David Hasselhoff doing the awkward scream thing, but most of them do.
As usual, Annie Ross (Basket Case 2) excels at being a cun...Um, no, let's call her "overbearing." Yeah, overbearing. I like that. The cool part of her awkward scream was the all the close up shots of her red pumps struggling to maintain their grip on the floor (a sinister force pulls her into a dumbwaiter). Oh, and the infamous "mouth stitch" scene was laughably gruesome; meaning, it was gory yet poorly staged.
The film's most compelling, non-thigh scratch moment comes when Linda Sullivan removes her blazer, and then Tony (who I nicknamed "Realty Boy," because he seemed to be so dedicated to realty) removes his blazer in order to facilitate sexual intercourse in front of a large, wall-mounted marlin. You knew these two were going to hook up, so it came as no surprise when they wandered off the way they did. How or why they got together is not important. What is important, however, is the fact that Catherine Hickland wore a white slip underneath her realty clothes. I also liked the loud zipping sound her skirt zipper made as she unzipped it. It should go without saying, but this sequence has many great leg moments. Unfortunately, they're the last the film has to offer as the body count begins to rise.
After the sex scene in front of the marlin starring Catherine Hickland's white slip is over, the film is a tedious slog. There's an effective death scene, complete with twitching and arterial spray, a shock-haired Linda Blair does some her best demented pajama work since the early 1970s. But for the most part, you'll be wishing it would just end already....much like this review. Stupid thigh scratch.

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  1. After a string of amazing films you hit a solid lead clunker. As always, I am amazed you make it through these things with your sanity in tact.

  2. I haven't been sane is quite sometime. ;)

  3. You can make it to and from the video store without getting thrown in Toronto City Jail for indecent exposure. And like Skinny Puppy and SWANS. Other than an unhealthy attraction to disco, you seem sane to me (via the internet).

  4. Yay! Sanity.

    At my disco, we play "Time Is Money (Bastard)" on a loop. ;)