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Witchcraft 666: The Devil's Mistress
Most schlock film fans know about N.I.P.S. - the Needless and Insipid Pandering Sequel. Usually arriving as part of a 'series', these lame-ass excuses for cinema trade on a name for the sake of its success. There are many of these miserable moniker-based abominations - the Puppet Master movies immediately come to mind, as do the various adventures of Emmanuelle. The Witchcraft films, now up to a very unlucky (and unnecessary) 13 in installments, are perhaps some of the worst offenders in this churn 'em out ideal. Not really relating to each other in terms of plot and character, they are merely excuses for varying levels of ineptitude. Troma, true to its nature of never passing up a possible buck, is releasing Witchcraft 6 - reconfigured with a couple of extra digits and including the Satan's slut subtitle of "The Devil's Mistress" - for the first time on DVD. That sound you just heard are the souls of a legion of horror fans dying, just a little. This chapter in mediocre macabre revolves around virgin sacrifices, attorneys with psychic powers, and cops who crave donuts. Yep, it sucks that hard.
When beautiful women start turning up dead - and NAKED! - all around the Los Angeles area, cops Beavis and Butthead...sorry, Earnest N. Angry and Comic Relief (not their real names) spring into action. Earnest acts all exasperated while Comic makes necrophilia jokes and wonders aloud why he can't get laid. Later, they go to the precinct and harass a female assistant, making her do all sorts of manual, non-PC tasks. Their captain, Raging Ahole, wants someone arrested pronto, and the ineffectual officers decide to call in a psychic helper. They happen upon divorce attorney - yes, you heard me right - Will Spanner (his real name) who is somehow tied to Satan via his father. He makes a mental connection with a fey fiend named Savanti, and it turns out this flamboyant bar owner is sending out his hunky assistant and a horny paramour to track down virgins for future bedeviling. When the first eclipse in 66 years hits in a few days, Beelzebub is going on a babe hunt, and Savanti wants to pimp his arrival. It will take the efforts of Earnest and Spanner to stop this madman - though finding an unsullied woman in California should be deterrent enough.
Sometimes, you can just sense when a filmmaker is not trying. Such is the case with Julie Davis, the unfortunate director of Witchcraft 666. Not that she has much to work with. This dull, derivative demon dreck is about as appealing as a brimstone enema and has to at least be twice as painful. Formulaic, lifeless and peppered with completely unnecessary nudity, this flaccid flop demonstrates perfectly why horror has to reinvent itself every few years. Seems that most made-for-cable or direct-to-video companies think that all you need for successful scares are a convenient creature (the mangoat, check), a vague plot about world domination and/or soul stealing (got it) and a lot of gratuitous shots of women sans shirts (bingo!) and you've got instant sell-through appeal. And for some, the amount of mommy bags on display will be more than enough incentive to waste 82 minutes of their otherwise downloading porn time on this dung. But anyone looking for character, narrative drive, inventive special effects or dread-filled atmosphere best do their spook searching elsewhere.
Frankly, it's a fraud to call films like these anything remotely associated with terror. There is nothing remotely frightening about a man with overly manicured hands speaking like Jonathan Harris's less macho brother. A woman who licks her paramours is about as sexy as the slick of skank spit she leaves behind. A beefed up bozo with an evident farmer's tan does not make for a menacing spree killer, and a washed out, washed up divorce lawyer who looks like he should be a cast member of the over-30 edition of Jackass is not a powerful, potent medium into the great unknown. The entire storyline - revolving around finding a sexually inactive female in LA - is so far fetched and derivative that you never once believe in the bad guy's plan (what, all the GRADE SCHOOLS were closed???). That just leaves the cops, and if there were ever two more annoying entries into the 'entities as exposition' cinematic cesspool, these guys would be the benchmark. Unable to go a single conversation without mentioning sex or donuts, you just wish these dullards would take a flying frig at a pastry hole and be done with it.
It wouldn't be so bad if Witchcraft 666 had something to offer other than titties - not that there is anything wrong with the chestical area of the modern members of the feminine gender. It's just odd that a woman director would spend so much time showing off the skin flaps of her fellow femmes. Any chance to release the siliconed 'dogs of war' is taken, and even a few instances of nipple aeration are offered as kind of a boredom bribe. Davis seems to be saying, "I know my movie blows donkeys, but how about those boobs?" To be honest, the best scene in the entire movie - which is a lot like saying the best stink coming out of a series of Port-a-Potties - is a sex sequence between Spanner and his gal pal. Though it's completely out of place (add a little penetration and you'd have your typical mid-90s hardcore) and a little waterlogged (it takes place in the bath) you still get a nice display of Debra Beatty's body. The rest of this retardation is bad psychic flashbacks, hideous acting, and more night shots of the LA freeway than you get on local traffic reports.
And it's all in service of the dictionary definition of tedium. When we're dealing with the dead, and having to find a link to the killer and his motive, Witchcraft 666 actually shows a minuscule amount of story stimulus. But the minute Spanner steps into the narrative, he's like a big fat dose of cinematic sedatives. The movie literally falls asleep, barely reawakening to cross the finish line with its fetid denouement. The villains are taken care of with little or no effort (one gets a scissors through the hand, but still has the mental acuteness to bonk his babe on the hood of their car) and the wrap up is just another pointless 'police like donuts' jibe. Nothing much makes any sense, and it wouldn't really matter if it did. Playing upon the distribution notion of the law of diminishing returns, a title like Witchcraft 666 has basically been micromanaged and formulated to turn a small profit and keep the producers in mortgage payments for the next year or so. This is not art. It is not even artifice. About the only "A" word that's appropriate here is abysmal. Unless you like dulling your senses without the pleasure principles of drugs, pass by this bullspit. This Witchcraft is witchcrap!
Time to be reminded of the good old days of full screen VHS releases as Troma delivers a clean, if cloudy, 1.33:1 transfer of Witchcraft 666. The image is very soft, with the colors washed out and the lack of detail disturbing. The film also looks "blown-up" to fit the 4x3 parameters. There are several scenes where the actors heads appear elongated, arguing for a far more letterbox-like composition when the movie was initially made.
Someone must be asleep over at Troma's aural switching house. The Dolby Digital Stereo mix here is all over the map. The music is too loud, in some of the scenes the dialogue is not discernible and the overall balance is heavy on folley and light on atmosphere. This is a flat, flavorless sonic presentation that does nothing to aid the awful movie it supports.
In an attempt to make the movie watchable, Troma gives us the option of viewing only the nudity. The menu option takes you to a scene screen where you can dial up your favorite dose of diddling or witness all the bare bodkin this noxious nonsense has to offer. Along with a brief montage of lesbian scenes from other company titles (for a feature called "The Sapphic Hall of Fame") there is not much else here. Troma chief Lloyd Kaufman is present and accounted for with a new, rather novel introduction. Since the film has been retitled Witchcraft 666 for this release, he promises to fill us in on what happened in Parts 1 through 665. While it could have been fleshed out a little more, it is still the most gratifying element of this entire enterprise.
What does a stone, a rope, a high school reunion, a new album by an ex-member of O-town and this movie all have in common. They all warrant a Skip It. Unless you are the sole Witchcraft completist out there who must have everything with this tired title attached to it, this is warning to all other fright film fans: go out and rent something from the Charles Band catalog of crudely made claptrap. Take a chance and walk through the entire Witchboard/Witchhouse canon. Memorize all the Night Eyes movies and develop a scrapbook where you can write little journal entries about your favorite bits. Heck, get a raging infection and obsess over the pus - just don't waste your time with this bargain basement boredom. The only spell this misguided black magic will cast upon you is one of complete and utter monotony.
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