Sunday, April 25, 2010
SUPERSTITION aka THE WITCH (1982)
SUPERSTITION was one of the last of the unrated horror releases of the mid-80's and it opened up in Miami in May of 1985. Some of the murders are pretty gruesome but most of them happen off screen. Other than the exploding head, I can't figure out why this movie couldn't secure an R rating.
It seems in 1692, this witch was drowned in a pond behind where this old ass house sits now. The new reverend and his family are moving in, until they find other accommodations. Are they building him a house? Possibly, because if you go by the logic of this movie, the land this house sits on is the town (the police hang out there constantly, as if they have no other place to go).
And you really get to know this house, kind of like EVIL DEAD. You're always in the kitchen or on the stairs. You hang out in the basement a lot or chill by the pond. The only time you're on another set is a trip to a makeshift Catholic Church library or when you're cinematically transported back to around 1692, and you end up in the ruins of a church or a wine cellar on the same property. You still get to chill by the pond though. This is classic low-budget, one-set location shooting.
Anyway, to make a long story short, the house is cursed and everybody except the new reverends (one old and drunk, one young and likable) know about it yet they do nothing except hang around and wait for others to get killed or get killed themselves.
There's a creepy old woman with a mute son subplot that goes nowhere. There's a drunk reverend who's losing his faith subplot that goes nowhere. There's turmoil within the drunk reverend's family that goes nowhere. And you got the young reverend who slowly (and I mean slowly) digs up the past and finally becomes a believer in the curse of the witch.
By all accounts, he should've got the fucking point that this place is bad news when the head inspector (Albert Salmi, by the way) tells him about all the deaths at the place over the years, not to mention the ones that happen right before everybody moves in (the beginning of the movie starts out with a head exploding in the microwave and a window cutting a guy in half).
You'd think when a saw blade magically pops off a saw, spins backward with amazing velocity, imbeds itself into the outgoing reverend's chest (in front of, like, five people) and keeps spinning until it's gone through the reverend and the chair, that somebody would tell the new reverend and his family, "Hey, you might want to stay at a Motel 6 until we get you a proper living arrangement."
If this is not the most blatant "get out" sign ever in a horror film, the second one should've really got them packing. If my daughter were pulled out of a pond with a severed arm clutching to her leg, I'd be out the door.
The witch likes to throw people around a lot. She also likes to slam doors, then break them down obviously for the dramatic effect. She's good for a couple of creepy moments but all in all, is wasted.
And that's a bad thing, because SUPERSTITION had all the elements to go somewhere, but it all got totally fucked up somehow.
How far out of control does your movie get that the characters seem like inexcusably clueless idiots and the proceedings makes no sense? SUPERSTITION begs for answers to these questions many, many times throughout it's 83 minute running time. The filmmaking is surprisingly good, the acting adequate for a horror movie from this time period and the deaths are quite inventive. Unfortunately, SUPERSTITION feels like pages and pages of the script got ripped out as if the production fell behind schedule. There's even a pajama change gaffe on one of the reverend's teen daughters in the thick of the finale (no nudity, though).
The writer, Michael O. Sajbal recently directed the theatrical Christian films, ONE NIGHT WITH THE KING and THE ULTIMATE GIFT. The director, James W. Roberson, was the cinematographer on REDNECK COUNTY and THE TOWN THAT DREADED SUNDOWN.
Anchor Bay's 2006 DVD release is quite eye-pleasing but low on extras, including only a trailer for it's alternate title, THE WITCH.
SUPERSTITION video box art grabbed from DEATH WISH INDUSTRIES.
Head In A Microwave screencap yanked from DREAD CENTRAL.