The Series Project: Witchcraft (Part 4)

The Series Project has become chilly…

You stand before the door. It is closed and locked. From the crack underneath, a flickering light. From behind, only the muffled sounds of human speech. You stare in apprehension. You know something terrible is happening on the other side, but you are powerless to open the door. You feel the urge to help, but to help the poor soul on the other side, but you know that to enter would be to subject yourself to untold tortures unknown to most mortal men. Inside is agony. A test of the will. A gauntlet of rib-splitting pain. Only the most disciplined and ascetic minds are capable of emerging from that room without having fallen into the sickening black abyss of insanity.

The sounds on the other side cease. A moment later, with a howling clang, the door swings full open, crashing into the wall. Silhouetted against a static-filled TV set, is a half-naked crazed man. His hair is disheveled, his skin pale and cracking. His face is a mask of near-unreadable emotions that seems to simultaneously convey rapturous ecstasy combined with extreme torment. His rippling, starved arms are cradling a collection of VHS tapes and DVDs that you do not recognize. These are the Witchcraft movies.

The man – a man whom you barely recognize behind the matted stubble – lackadaisically and dismissively flings the tapes and discs triumphantly at your feet. They land with half-hearted clatter of plastic. The man looks you right in the eye. He has watched 13 Witchcraft movies. He grins maniacally. Near mad. Triumphant.

“Well?” I ask pointedly of you, “Is that all ya got?”

I have seen all 13 Witchcraft movies. You, dear reader, have not. Behold my mad findings below.

Witchcraft X: Mistress of the Craft (dir. Elisar Cabrera, 1998)

Witchcraft X was not the first film to be shot on video, but I think this was the first to be shot on VHS, or a video technology that is only of slightly better quality. I bought Witchcraft parts X, XI, and XII as part of an oblique 10-movie box set called The Advantage Collection: Demons & Witches. Other films in the set: Demonsoul (from the director of Witchcraft X), The Screaming, and Crystal Force II.

Witchcraft X is awful. It didn’t leave me as uncomfortable and dirty as Witchcraft IX, which I still hold as one of the worst movies I have seen, but it was most assuredly one of the most bizarre horror experiences I had. Shot in England (the first of the films to be set there), and working with a reported budget of only £10,000, Witchcraft X plays like an enthused homemade porno film with less nudity. It’s so awkward and strange, one may only be able to consider it… art.

The returning character of the film is Detective Lutz (Stephanie Beaton, who played the role in part IX, X, and XI), who still parades about in suit jackets with nothing on underneath. The camera still lingers on her large implanted cleavage with the eye of a horny 14-year-old. The main character is Celeste Sheridan (Wendy Cooper) a bereaved young lady who is looking for her missing brother, murdered earlier by a pair of bisexual vampire babes. The vampire babes have been stalking about London eating poor saps and making out in echo-y hallways. This entire movie seems to take place in corridors.

The vampire queen Raven (Eileen Daly) has been collecting, um… something from her victims, I think. It’s hard to tell for certain. We do know that she runs afoul of a roiling cannibal serial killer named Hyde (pro-wrestler Kerry Knowlton) whose performance can only be described as Ed-Woodian in its blazingly entertaining ineptitude. Sample dialogue: “Maybe, if we had time, we could torture her… TO DEATH!”

Eventually, Lutz teams up with a white-magic sorceress named Linnaca (Emily Bouffante) to do battle with Raven and Hyde. You know what? I think I may have mixed up some of the characters. But in a very vital way, it may not matter. Characters drift in and out without much in the way of comprehensible dialogue or backstory. The sound was so bad on the disc I watched, I had trouble understanding a lot of it anyway. I felt less like I was watching the next installment of a smutty horror series, and more like I was being quietly pranked by the folks at PFFR, the team behind “Wonder Showzen” and the mind-bending 2003/9 classic Final Flesh.

We’ll go from an abstract exercise in awfulness to what might be the most respectable, and perhaps the best in the series.