WITCHCRAFT November 09 2002

I recently bought a couple of cheap DVDs from Play.com, one of which was Witchcraft (try saying that five times in a row really fast). I did of course not expect this to be a good film. It does after all contain David Hasselhoff and Linda Blair. While Blair did a good job in The Exorcist, her talent didn't exactly grow in pace with her age. As for Hasselhoff... well, when he's not a world-saving lifeguard, he's a world-saving lifeguard on Hawaii. And sometimes he's a world-saving lifeguard only it's night. He can't exactly claim to have proven himself a versatile actor.

This disc has one redeeming factor: the talent bios. While most talent bios tend to exclude movies like Grease 2 from an actor's filmography, these leave nothing out and stay on that road by actually giving honest opinions about the actors' accomplishments. Take the description of Exorcist II - The Heretic, for example: "Interesting but flawed." The bio also describes Roller Boogie as "awful." My personal favourite is the synopsis of Hasselhoff's The Revenge of the Cheerleaders: "Cheerleaders try and save their school from evil developers. Lots of nudity, boobs, buns and shower scenes. Hasselhoff makes his film debut as a character named Boner. And he's naked."

The movie introduces itself as Witchcraft (Evil Encounters), while the cover reads Witchcraft (aka Ghosthouse 2). I looked up 'Ghosthouse' on IMDb, and found that this was the subheader of a movie called La Casa 3, which means that this movie is La Casa 4 aka Witchery, followed by La Casa 5 aka Beyond Darkness aka Horror House 2 aka House 5 (following House IV, which was made two years after House 5, thus disregarding all laws of causality). The franchise was started by La Casa (1976), which may or may not have been followed by La Casa (1986). If La Casa (1986) isn't La Casa 2, there is no La Casa 2.

It's the year sumphin sumphin. I'm not really sure. You've got your medieval witchfinders ready to burn books and witches and whatnot. You've also got lovely flower-patterned wallpaper typical for the sixties. The witchfinders chase a pregnant woman, or a woman carrying a square pillow under a see-through dress if we have to get technical, and she soon finds herself trapped inside a house. Not willing to let the pyromaniacs get her, she throws herself out the window and into her death, transforming herself into André the Giant's stunt double on the way.

Cut to present day. Pregnant Linda Blair is out bying her little brother a Sesame Street tape recorder, and the strangest thing happens: a woman dressed in black stares at her from acress the street while fingering her necklace. This is where the movie turns blurry. Either the blue flashy light from the necklace causes a girder to fall down, or it blinds Linda Blair long enough to keep her from walking directly under the falling girder. Before Linda gets a good look at her, the old woman suddenly vanishes using witchcraft so powerful it pushes the camera an inch to the right.

The opening credits introduce this myserious character thus: "Special appearance by Hildegard Knef as the lady in black." There are two things that puzzle me about this. First of all, how can you do a special appearance in a movie? You can guest star in a TV series, but you're either in a movie or you aren't. Second of all, who the hell is Hildegard Knef?

One day, the lady in black stops by a playground where Linda's brother Tommy is playing. They have a conversation, but I couldn't tell you what it was about to save my life. This movie is chock full of mumblers and mumblers whose mother tounge is Italian, so your only chance of making sense of this movie is learning how to speak mumble. Let me give you an example from when Tommy meets a local girl called Cindy:

Cindy: Hi, my name's Cindy. What's yours?

Tommy: Taahmny

Cindy: Do you live here?

Tommy: No, but my daahd wanstabai deesislandrahthere.

What Tommy tries to communicate, is that his parents have decided to aquire a house by the ocean, and talk to a horny real-estate agent with a nymphomaniac coworker who keeps seeing Hildegard's face in the mirror while she's having sex with some guy in the shower. Linda's father is less concerned about stiking a good deal than looking up the miniskirts of the secretaries, and he'll pay for it soon enough. It's not his fault, though. He's under the spell of the REAL-ESTATE AGENCY OF LUST!

There's one problem, though (well, in addition to the obvious fact that this is the suicide witch house): David Hasselhoff and his girlfriend Mumbles is crashing there. Mumbles is staying there because she's writing a book about witches, while David helps her take pictures. Actually, he's just there because he wants to pop her maidenhead. Mumbles doesn't feel like giving it up, to which David responds by telling her it's not natural for her to be a virgin. Great plan, David. Telling her she's a freak will get you into her pants for sure.

Mumbles is basing her book on the works of "an obscure German writer" (translated form the Mumblian "an obshuur Germniter") who took great interest in desire and witches and demons and fruitfulness and virgins. Or something. The only thing more unintelligible than Mumbles's speech is her speech when she's translating intricate and cryptic passages from a German book while making sure she's talking as droningly as possible to emphazise the fact that she's reading aloud.

The motley crew arrive on the island by fishing boat, and aren't happy. They were promised a house in need of a stroke of paint and got a house in need of a condemnation sign and only fit for hobos that aren't too prudish. The crashers decide to hide in the attic until the potential byers go away, but idiot David forgets to turn the stove off. The first thing Linda's father does when he enters the house is of couse to check if the plates are hot, and the not-very-physical-love birds are busted. Not getting anywhere with Mumbles anyway, David volunteers to leave without a fuss, and Mumbles doesn't really have a strong case herself, trespassing and all. The family isn't all that interested in the house after all, so they all decide to go back to the boat. Which wouldn't present much of a problem, hadn't the lady in black

Now how's that for witchcraft!? The party fails to see the body dangling from the fishing nets, and assume the old salt just took off. What to do? Go back into the evil house of course. Linda visits the bathroom to take her medication when she drops the pill botle into the tub. She reaches for it, and faster than you can say 'four-cent visual effect,' she's sucked down the drain and into the...

What it's for? Why, to suck people down the sewage system and straight to hell, of course!

Hell is this place that looks like a warehouse. The lady in black is there, as are a dosser and a fetus-eating bag lady. While I've heard a lot of talk about baby eating in other movies, this is the first to serve a graphic baby eating scene. It's actually pretty disturbing until you remember that Mitch Bucannon will be on-screen in two seconds.

When Linda abruptly reappears in the mortal realm, nobody believes her. Piece of advice: when Linda Blair tells you she's had a run-in with the Evil One, don't stay to argue. Run like the wind and don't look back until you're half a continent away if you don't want to end up dead on the pavement. Her mother would be especially wise to heed my warning, as she soon is sucked down the laundry chute and into the...

The demon hobos sew her mouth shut (she probably said something bad (though unintelligible) earlier in the movie) and tie her upside down in the chimney. At this point, the other people decide that it's cold, and light up the fireplace. Do the math.

Taahmny has been trying to convince the adults that there is a black-clad woman in the house for a while with little to no success. To prove he's right and to pay off the tape recorder, he records the lady's strange German chants. You'd think that of all the people in the world, David Hasselhoff should be the one to have an understanding of the German language. He doesn't, but admits that the recording does indeed sound very creepy and European.

Meanwhile, the horny real-estate people decide to get it on. Linda's sex-starved father smells a rat, and soon finds a spot where he can spy on them unnoticed. Ready to whip out the old mojo and have himself a solitary escapade, he looks away for a second. And suddenly they're gone! Where could they have gone to?

This one is growing longer than I planned. For a change.

Mumbles is exhausted from keeping David's penis far away. She goes to sleep, and dreams about the lady in black and her infernal bums. Then Satan drops by. If you ask me how I can know that a naked guy with latex smeared around his mouth is Satan, it's because the credits say so. Like I mentioned earlier, the obshuur Germniter was very interested in demons and virgins. Mumbles is a virgin. Satan is the demon. Time for the rape scene.

Meanwhile, Linda's father runs over to David to tell him that he happened to walk by when the estate people suddenly disappeared. David agrees that this is mighty queer indeed, and decides to go look for them. Soon they find the girl impaled by a fish.

It's phallic, you see. She has sex with people she's not married too in a haunted house, and must pay in a poetically morbid way. David and Linda's father decide to take a look around the house and look for the other agent. Walking outside, they find him hanging on a burning reversed cross. I really don't know how this is supposed to reflect his sin. Hell, even Freud would have to pass Jung the stick on that one.

The survivors meet in the living room to figure out what's going on. Mumbles has woken up from her nightmare, and is presented to the tape. She concludes that it's definitely maybe German. Listening to it for a second time, she understands it all, and partially succeeds in making it understandable to the others: "Lust of the harlot. Fruit of the woman in labour. Blood of a virgin."

Meanwhile, the woman in black is making a voodoo doll. By stabbing it with a needle, she causes Linda's father's blood pressure to increase to the point his carotid artery explodes, hitting David straight in the nose. Then, Linda is possessed by the lady in black. Surprise surprise. I'd love to include some pictures, but this article is far too long as it is. She kills David and is about to do Taahmny as well. But the little genius plays a tape where he and Linda are having fun, and Linda is torn emotionally to the point she decides it's best to jump out the window. Time for Giant Stunt Man to pull out the old wig and dress again.

God, I wish I never wrote this review.

Mumbles escapes somehow, and finds her way to a hospital. There, she's told that her baby will be fine. "BABY!?" she exclaims, looking puzzled into the camera. The End. Mumbles is not alone in her bewilderment, I suppose we all feel deprived of answers at this point. Who was the woman in black? Was she a witch? Was she the ghost of woman from the beginning of the movie? Was she Lillith? Who is Hildegard Knef? Why are everyone's veins filled with brilliant red semi-congealed paint? Why is hell populated by bums? We will never know, and we're better off that way.