Movie Review: Witchtrap (1989) – MVD Blu-ray

May 28, 2023

Written by DanXIII

Daniel XIII; the result of an arcane ritual involving a King Diamond album, a box of Count Chocula, and a copy of Swank magazine, is a screenwriter, director, producer, actor, artist, and reviewer of fright flicks…Who hates ya baby?

A greasy, razzle-dazzle showbiz type is sent plummeting to his doom from within the unreasonably pink confines of a mansion formerly owned by a deceased warlock named Avery Lauter (J.P. Luebsen).

In order to put an end to that wicked warlock, Lauter’s relative, Devon (played with wooden panache by the film’s writer/director Kevin Tenney, who also brought us 1986’s Witchboard, and 1988’s absolute masterpiece Night of the Demons… among many others), assembles a paranormal Suicide Squad consisting of a hodge-podge of mediums, ghost hunters, and security agents, lead by Dr. Agnes Goldberg (Judy Tatum, who arrives in the picture completely tits-out in the tub, as one does) and featuring none-other than legendary scream queen Linnea Quigley (who provides the film’s most memorable death sequence as well as it’s most memorable nudity… as is her wonderful way!) as the team’s videographer Ginger, to complete the task.

Once in that dreaded domicile, the team begin experiencing all manner of supernatural shenanigans (up to and including death by plumbing) and it becomes ever-more likely that the body count will only continue to escalate as Avery lets it known that this arcane abode is his forever… and ever…

Let me just say; there’s a lot to love about Witchtrap, believe you me my cats n’ creeps!

For starters, who wouldn’t love a neo-Gothic thriller (complete with it’s own “old dark house”, resurrection from the dead, fog-laden graveyards, and evil family secrets) filtered through that rad-ass 1980’s aesthetic that was once ultra-cool, but now provides that warm n’ fuzzy nostalgia that those that lived through the decade often fiend for (myself included)? Plenty of you lascivious lot I’d wager!

We also get plenty of ’80s horror staples such as gratuitous nudity, a lil’ practical gore, some off-color smart-assery, Satanic alters, and rando vehicular explosions… which is now and forever the ghoulish goods through and through!

On the slightly, only half-negative side of things, the acting on display is admittedly a mixed bag.

On the plus side, we get James W. Quinn (who provided the voice of the demonic Angela in the sequels to Tenney’s previously referenced Night of the Demons) and Clyde Talley II being supremely entertaining as the security agents/ex-detectives mentioned up yonder… and members of the supporting cast like the aforementioned Quigley, Hal Havins (as violent n’ horny handyman Elwin) and Rob Zapple (as Agnes’ nerdy, mental medium hubby Felix, who becomes a vessel for the dead on occasion, and features in the film’s most explosive gore set-piece!) are very strong.

But for every gem there’s an unpolished stone with Tatum, Kathleen Bailey (as the team’s physical medium, Whitney… but what I’m about to say is only in regards to her line-reading, as her physical performance is exceptionally energetic as scenes require), and of course Tenney provide performances that oft-times are flatter than the proverbial poison pancake.

Adding to the overall fun of the piece is the very old-school, Vincent Price-style nature of the film’s villain, Avery who is a theatrical, magic-using Dracula surrogate of the highest order and provides some delightfully campy, Halloween-time vibes to the affair!

Staying on the positive tip, lets feast our putrid peepers on the special features gathered for this Blu-ray release from MVD (courtesy of their Rewind Collection label)!

Starting things off is a fascinating audio commentary featuring Tenney (along with editor Dan Duncan, cinematographer Tom Jewett, and Havin) that takes us through the film’s production in detail and with plenty of first hand anecdotes as well!

Following that we get interviews with Tenney, Quigley, Jewett, and special effects supervisor Tassilo Baur, which feature not only remembrances of working on the film at hand, but nuggets (was it intentional… enquiring minds want to know) o’ info on the rest of their respective careers as well.

Also included is the VHS version of the film (disclaimer and all) so you can masterbai… err, watch it exactly as I did in my misspent youth, and a brief photo gallery.

Part Poltergeist, a dash of skin-flick, a pinch of William Castle by way of Poe… Witchtrap is nothing if not a bubbling witch’s cauldron of fright flick fun!




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