The Series Project: Witchcraft (Part 2)

One reason I continue to soldier my way through every sequel in the universe – as part of this madcap adventure known as The Series Project – is to find those islands of quality in the sea of awful. As I make my machismo-scented trek through the deepest depths of crappy, crappy straight-to-video sequels that have gone unseen and unfound by most causal film aficionados, I will occasionally find an oasis, a grotto, a small sheltered area of rest. These little intermissions in the bad-quality gamut can be such a relief that I find myself praising them to the high Heavens. What’s the better meal? The five-course, $1000 steak dinner you had at the ritziest hotel in Paris, or the peanut butter sandwich and bag of Doritos you had after two days of being lost, starving, in the jungle?

As such, you may find me gushing perhaps a little too enthusiastically about the wonders of Witchcraft VI: The Devil’s Mistress. Objectively, there is nothing to recommend the movie beyond the obvious prurient ones (the DVD version of the film comes with a recommendation from Mr. Skin), as the acting is still bad and the plotting just as tedious as any of its five forebears or seven successors, but there is something tonally different about this film that had me digging it.

This tendency of mine to (over-)praise crappy sequels may also be part of a phenomenon I’ve encountered in the Project that can be called “They Just Wore Me Down.” After spending five or six (or 25) films inside of any series, you may find yourself giving in. The sheer overpowering volume of film (especially when consumed in a short time frame) will eventually crawl into your brain and take up shop. You will know the mythology forever, and the series is now part of you. And it’s hard to criticize something that’s a part of you.

Anyway, to pick up where we left off last week, the hero of the Witchcraft series, one Will Spanner, had just done hand-to-hand combat with an ambiguously bisexual soul-sucking incubus who would sexually enslave his fiancee Charlotte. Parts II, III, and IV are part of a mini-arc that I like to call the Boobs ‘n’ Garters era.

Keep reading for an explanation.

Witchcraft IV: Virgin Heart (dir. James Merendino, 1992)

Witchcraft IV is, by all measures I was able to unearth, the most popular of the series. Having seen it and many of its kin, I can’t really point out why. It has less nudity than the films that came after it, and the story is no more or less bonkers than any of the films that came before it. I think it might be the presence of scream queen Julie Strain in the role of a stripper that has people coming back. Julie Strain has quite a following, and is most certainly striking; she stands 6’1”, has powerful thighs, and a huge curly black coiffure. In many ways, Strain is like Elvira’s athletic little sister. One who may not be working as a horror hostess, but has the pluck to pick up the family business should the urge strike.

The first 10 minutes of Witchcraft IV involve the murder of a virginal supporting character. The edits are long and dull. I can’t tell if the movie had bad sound, or if it was just the particular VHS tape I was watching, but I could barely make out half of the dialogue in this frickin’ thing. The girl is killed, and her boyfriend is framed. During this scene, someone makes a phone call from a remote phone booth, and a redhead old lady – who looks like a character from Rubin & Ed – answers. It’s very bizarre.

Will Spanner (Charles Solomon in his last Witchcraft movie) is still warlock lawyer to the stars, and he operates out of a duck-encrusted noir-like office with bad lighting. He is enlisted by the framed boy’s big sister (Lisa Jay Harrington) to exonerate him. His investigation leads him to a strip club called COVEN where Belladonna (Strain) works. Her boss is the loathsome demon Santara (Clive Pearson) who browbeats her and extorts her for sex. “Santara” is clearly a shorthand for “Satan,” and in a later movie, we’ll talk about a guy named “Savanti,” who is also a demonic stand-in. I’m guessing we’ll also eventually get a Salanta, a Stantina, and a Satanberg before this series is over.

An odd twist: Belladonna has been sneaking out of her apartment late at night to moonlight as a lounge singer. Her sleazy strip job is the one that on the up-and-up, but she has to keep her career as a lounge singer secret. When Satanman finds out about this, he confronts her with the golden line “You wouldn’t be… SINGING again… would you?!?” Music plays a strong part in the story, as there is mention of that old story of blues musicians trading their souls for better musical skill. Santa has been collecting souls, or something.

Will and Belladonna have sex, and Will beats up Satan. The end. Onward!