Sophisticated special effects have so devalued horror movies that an actual appearance of Satan via hologram would probably do little to stir jaded fright freaks. Direct-to-video schlockmeisters opt instead for techno-trickery and easy laughs in the eighth film in the seemingly endless
WITCHCRAFT series, SALEM'S GHOST.
In a prologue set in 1692, Satanist Simon Winfrough (Jack Van Landingham) is burned at the stake and sealed in a crypt with a Christian sword. Flashforward to 1996: Hoping to iron out the wrinkles in his troubled marriage, college prof Sonny Dunaway (Lee Grober) takes his wife Mary Ann (Kim Kopf)
to their new dream house in Salem, MA. The couple's reconciliation is jeopardized by the still-slumbering spirit of Simon, whose crypt is in the house's basement, as well as the designs of nubile student Cathy Williams (Mai-Lis Holmes). Welcomed by nosy neighbors, Mitch the plumber (David Weills)
and his wife Gayle (Anthoni Stewart), the Dunaways agree to let Mitch survey pipe damage, not suspecting he will greedily remove the ancient weapon that traps the Satanist's spirit behind a wall. As nastiness seeps into Mitch's personality, the house's dormant evil infects Sonny and Mary Ann with
phantasmagoric visions of blood-filled bathtubs and a devil-man having his way with Mary Ann.
After a few other eerie occurrences, the Dunaways seek the help of Clarence McArthur (Tom Overmyer), a Protestant witchcraft specialist. Warning Sonny that the over-sexed warlock will prey on his fears, McArthur prepares for his first exorcism. After the police arrest the now-deranged Mitch, the
Dunaways retrieve the magic sword. Simon zaps McArthur with hell-sent lightning, but Sonny vanquishes the brimstone spell caster with the holy weapon.
Video stores are increasingly overcrowded with fright night escapist tales that could be dubbed, "Things that Go Hump in the Night." Besides relying on special effects interludes, movies like WITCHCRAFT: SALEM'S GHOST push their narrative aside to drool over sex between hero and heroine, fiend
and heroine, and subsidiary players often dispensable to the plot. This film doesn't even have a glimmer of intelligent scripting, completely ignoring the opportunity to use the Dunaways' sexual dysfunction as a pretext for the warlock's invasion of their bedtime. In addition to jettisoning
spine-tinglers, this lazy chiller affirms its innate stupidity by dragging in comic relief less subtle than the humorous sideshows found in hard-core porn pics. (Graphic violence, extreme profanity, extensive nudity, sexual situations.)
Cast & Details See all »
- Released: 1996
- Rating: NR
- Review: Sophisticated special effects have so devalued horror movies that an actual appearance of Satan via hologram would probably do little to stir jaded fright freaks. Direct-to-video schlockmeisters opt instead for techno-trickery and easy laughs in the eighth… (more)