Blu-Ray Review – Witchtrap

A haunted-house film from the late 1980s, Witchtrap has never been released on DVD or Blu-Ray before. Directed by Kevin Tenney, who later was at the helm of cult hit Demons and directed Witchboard (not a sequel), it’s set in a house that has been the site of supernatural activities and unexplained deaths. No tenants or buyers will consider it, so its current owner decides to turn it into a bed and breakfast. But first, he needs to drive the ghosts or spirits out of Lauder House.

The current owner, Devon Lauder, has inherited it from his Uncle Avery, who seems to be one of the spirits who is haunting the property. So Devon gets a team of detectives, mediums and security specialists to play ‘ghostbusters,’ and discovers before long that his uncle, an illusionist, was also some kind of Satanist. Weird symbols and bizarre happenings ensue.

There is an overt influence from The Evil Dead, with the action contained within the space of the house throughout and some very Evil Dead-eque deaths. Of course, how could any schlock horror director not take some ideas from The Evil Dead in the 1980s?

The film is unintentionally hilarious because whoever did the sound make a mess of it. The entire film had to be redubbed throughout, making it looked like an old Italian horror film with out of sync dialogue. Given that the budget was small, there are some great special effects—like a possessed showerhead that goes through the victim’s throat and another with a demon’s hands coming through a door. It also has a good low-budget face melt which deserves a mention. Given everything, Tenney deserves some credit for making the most of the opportunity: he even made an attempt to capture a slight film-noir feel, but didn’t have the budget to make it work.

The cast leaves a lot to be desired. Most were friends of the director, not professional actors. The bad dubbing certainly didn’t help their performances. The main character, Vincente, is a super-detective now working for a security firm.

In an interview included in the package, Tenney admits that he was nervous about Witchtrap coming out again, embarrassed about the obvious issues. But like most films of that era, it‘s a decent enough mix of horror and comedy, and even though it falls apart in the last act, it’s a fun movie to watch with friends.

The film has also been known as The Haunted, and on the Blu-Ray is billed as The Presence (with Witchtrap on the case). The film has been extensively restored, from the 35mm interpositive to 2K quality. This is the first uncut version, as some gore was trimmed in the theatrical release. Along with the film, there’s a commentary with the director, one of the actors and various crew members, plus a series of interviews. Audio interviews with gthe makeup artist and composer, a short film Tenney made called Book of Joe with some of the same cast, an alternative ending for the short, a trailer, and a stills gallery are also included on the disc – quite a lot for a film that wasn’t much to start with.

★★½

Ian Schultz

Buy Here

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