Blu-ray Review: Ghost House/Witchery

The Italian film distributors seem to share one common trait when it comes to exploitation: a complete lack of shame. They will create sequels that have nothing to do with the original productions. They were quick to just make people think they were watching the same Hercules with similiar bodybuilders flexing in togas. Later they would promise audiences the same gunfighters in unrelated Spaghetti Westerns. Any guy with a few bullets more could become Django. So naturally when an Italian distributor had back to back hits with Evil Dead and Evil Dead 2, they were eager to get more scares on the big screen. The two films were renamed La Casa thus the distributor merely had to look for more films that featured haunted houses instead of begging to get Bruce Campbell reunited with a chainsaw. Both films eventually found themselves released in America, but under different titles than Evil Dead or La Casa. GhostHouse/Witchery is a double feature that gives a duplex of haunted real estate. GhostHouse (1988 – 94 minutes) is a tale from just outside Boston. Back in 1967, a father finds his daughter has gone nuts in the basement with a family pet and a really creepy clown puppet. He locks her underground thinking somehow this will stop the evil. Soon after the parents are found dead and the daughter has passed away from mysterious means. Of course the true savagery of this action is that the family missed out on Yaz winning the triple crown as part of the Impossible Dream Redsox. Two decades later, the house attracts a Ham radio operator and others with a strange repeating broadcast. What is inside the haunted house located on the coast in Scituate? A lot of weirdness takes place as the intrepid teens investigate. Of course none of the scares here are as horrific as the freezing cold water you’ll encounter in Scituate during August. My cousin’s Bill’s family has a house near the sea wall and it’s a polar bear swim year round. The film is nowhere near Evil Dead 2 with little humor and rather serviceable camera moves. The cast is headlined by Greg Scott of Hello Mary Lou: Prom Night II and Lara Wendel of Tenebrae. But most faces aren’t familiar to casual horror fans so you won’t guess easily as to who gets killed by the evil clown doll next. Witchery (1988 – 95 minutes) takes the haunted house to an extreme remote location. A family buys an old hotel on an island off the coast of New England. They have Newhart dreams, but things aren’t quite right. Doesn’t help that their pregnant daughter is Linda Blair (The Exorcist). There are plenty of stories as to why the hotel was such a bargain. Investigating this tale is David Hasselhoff (Baywatch) and his gal Leslie Cumming. Mostly they want to check out the notorious “Witch’s Light” which happens every day. Supposedly it’s tied in with a nightmare that Linda Blair at the start of the film. Ultimately Everyone gets stuck on the island and out comes the evil truth. Hasselhoff’s performance really will make you appreciate the fine work of Gerry Anderson’s cast on Thunderbirds. He must think he’s back making an episode of Baywatch Nights. But the biggest scare is that the Hoff is going to emote while on camera. American audiences are lucky that they didn’t get sold GhostHouse and Witchery as sequels of Evil Dead. Neither film comes close to those legendary classics or even Army of Darkness. The humor is unintentional on the screen. A lot of laughs will come from Hoff’s attempt to out act his parka. There is fun and scares in the double feature. The video is 1:78:1 anamorphic for both films. Does seem that these films were only released in America on VHS so this is a major step up in resolution. The clown doll looks extra creepy in 1080p. The audio is DTS-MA Mono and has the feeling of a lot of ADR work. Does sound crisp. Both movies are subtitled. Trailers are included for both films. GhostHouse and Witchery is a fine double feature about haunted houses on the coast of New England. The most scary thing on the screen is the Hoff’s thespian skills. Scream Factory presents GhostHouse and Witchery. Directed by: Umberto Lenzi & Fabrizio Laurenti. Starring: Lara Wendel, Greg Scott, David Hasselhoff & Linda Blair. Rated: R. Boxset Contents: 2 movies on 1 Blu-ray. Released: June 30, 2015.

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