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Witches, Vampires and Zombies
This is a new low in DVD marketing, a tragic waste of resources and a general insult to living creatures. Though not without pathetic amusement value, Witches, Vampires & Zombies is a DVD searching for a new sub-Skip It rating. Other than as a way to mint dollars with zero effort, the sole purpose of this release seems to be as an advertisement for another DVD release, and not even one hinted at in the program, but merely in the form of an advertisement on the reverse of the DVD sleeve, as seen through the clear plastic keepcase.
So what is Witches all about? At 37-minutes length this 1989 production appears to be an underfed, made-for-cable-TV special for promoting mostly risible movies based on John Russo's novels. Under the egregious guise of telling the truth about Witches, Vampires & Zombies, author and filmmaker Russo prattles from an extremely drab, fluorescent-lit office, reading cue cards diligently like Mr. Rogers. He drops a tiny bit of knowledge about the titular beasties that any half-self respecting fan of the macabre learned while still in short pants, after which the majority of blessedly brief run-time is given over to a pair of the worst looking movies ever made, and one classic (Night of the Living Dead).
Through Russo's crap-tacular filmed version of his book Midnight, the author attempts to explain Witchcraft, although the villains in the movie are clearly Satanists. Patronizingly reactionary, Russo's take on the subject is as lame and horrid as the clips he shows of a movie that looks ripe for the Elvira/MST3K treatment. Screwing with the title order, we're then made to watch NOTLD clips (at least it's a good movie) while Russo explains that 'real' zombies come from Haiti, etc. etc. After about 20 endless minutes, Russo begins touting his worst feature ever, Heartstopper, as he gives us the lowdown on Vampires. Heartstopper involves a righteously philosophical, romanticizing vampire with poisonous saliva, amazingly bad soundtrack music, bottom-of-the-barrel, fast-motion fight scenes and the ugliest love interest (apparently Moon Zappa, sorry hon!) ever seen on film.
Ignore the crappy sleeve art that might fool half-wits into thinking they're going to get a few clips from Witchboard, and start the necessary grassroots effort needed to slap a cease and desist order on SRS Entertainment for wasting valuable resources on this laughable piece of junk. If there's any value to be found here, it's for those willing to hunt down VHS copies of Midnight and Heartstopper, which really appear to be two of the worst horror movies ever made. As for Witches, Vampires & Zombies, there's not reason for it to exist at all.
Presented in 1.33:1 ratio, Witches, Vampires & Zombies stinks. The credits and graphics for the video company that originally produced this waste are crisp and clear. Clips from the movies themselves are grainy, washed out and sport plenty of film damage. Russo's shot-on-video spots are drab and grainy too. I suppose it's worth noting that compression artifacts aren't much of a problem (who could tell when the sources are so bad anyway?) - no mean feat when you're trying to cram 37 whole minutes of video footage on one DVD.
Not sure there's even a point of discussing audio. Russo comes through loud and clear. Film clip audio is somewhat noisy, but the crap songs from Heartstopper are all too easy to hear. I suspect this has been mastered in stereo, but who cares?
From the misleading cover art, to the run-time listed as 40 minutes plus extras, this is as bad as it gets. Cover art says we get 'Uncut Film' (what would they possibly cut from 37 minutes?) which may be true; there is some mild gore on hand. We're also promised 'Full Motion Menus' and 'Trailers.' What we actually get is Nothing. That's right, the promised bonuses aren't on the disk. This is not a screener, either. We do get Chapter Stops but there is no 'Full Motion Menu.' The disk plays automatically, but if you choose to press your 'menu' button, you'll get a Black Screen that says: Press Enter to play feature.. This is grounds for a class-action lawsuit from angered buyers.
While Midnight and Heartstopper look like genuine 'so bad they're good movies' they're probably long out of print. Learning about these horrible films is the only good that comes from Witches, Vampires & Zombies, and you've read it here, so my work is done. This is absolutely the worst, most misleading piece of junk I've ever laid eyes on, and is destined for the dollar bins during Halloween. Even at that price, it's a rip-off. Beg your retailer not to carry this, and write a letter of complaint to SRS Cinema. At an unbelievable list price of $29.95, Skip It is too good a rating, so I'm coming up with a new one: Destroy It. Astounding.