Blu-ray Review: Witchtrap



Kevin Tenney’s first two ’80s horror films Witch Board and Night of the Demons were given the especial edition Blu-ray treatment back in 2014. Fans wanted more from Tenney’s oeuvre especially Witchtrap, his third feature film. The MPAA forced him to butcher the best special effects in order to receive the precious R rating back in 1989. Now Tenney’s complete vision has arrived on Blu-ray with all the gore that Jack Valenti didn’t want you to see. Witchtrap is a trip back to shoulder pads in suitjackets and yuppies wanting to turn everything into money making affairs.

The Lauder House is a haunted mansion that was left to a yuppie scum. He has the great idea of turning it into a haunted bed and breakfast since those are becoming a hit for tourist wanting a spooky night. Except the problem is that whatever ghost is lurking in the Lauder House isn’t just making cute bumps and howls. This ghost is out to kill the living. This includes the first guest that stays overnight. The owner (Kevin Tenney) hires a group of psychic ghost hunters and private investigators. He wants them to get the ghost out of the house. But the ghost has no desire to go quietly into the night. The spirit is out to possess and destroy the new guests.

Witchtrap is a fun haunted house film with plenty of scares and gore along with a few laughs. The star of the film is Linnea Quigley as a video technician. Her shower scene is an amazing twist on Psycho. Thankfully this is the uncut version so you get to see all of the big special effect. The film holds up as good cheesy horror fun. The action comes at a regular pace so nothing drags once the ghost starts picking off the psychics and detectives. There’s people melting and a head explosion. It’s fun for the whole family. Witchtrap spooks well with Witchboard and Night of the Demons for summer night Tenney marathon.

The videos is 1.85:1 anamorphic. The transfer looks amazing for a film that pretty much only existed on VHS. The special effects look good and gruesome. The audio is DTS-HD 2.0. Tenney admits that the whole soundtrack was recorded with a nasty buzz so they redid all the dialogue in post-production. The film is subtitled.

DVD has all the features of the Blu-ray.

Group commentary track brings together Director Kevin Tenney, Producer Dan Duncan, Cinematographer Tom Jewett and Actor Hal Havins to remind themselves what it was like to make their scary bed and breakfast feature. There’s a great tale of one actor constantly doing a routine of Charles Bronson and Pee Wee Herman as roommates. It was the ’80s after all.

Director Kevin Tenney (23:36) discusses how he made a quick low budget film after his first two horror flicks. He talks about how that rat bastard Jack Valenti’s MPAA had all the good scenes snipped. The reason was outlandish. Working on the bonus features for the Blu-ray made him feel better about Witchtrap.

Actress Linnea Quigley (13:40) recounts how Tenny offered her the role after being in Night of the Demons. She breaksdown her shower scene.

Cinematographer Tom Jewett (15:09) explains how his film professor was Jim Morrison’s roommate at UCLA. He got his start shooting on In Search Of with Leonard Nimoy and That’s Incredible. He hooked up with Tenney on a small project and they worked together more.

SFX Supervisor Tassilo Baur (17:11) relates how his film career started when he fixed at 16mm projector. He got screwed by film school when he applied hoping to learn special effects only to discover after being accepted that they didn’t teach the courses anymore. He did meet up with Tenney when a car needed blowing up.

Audio interviews with: SFX Makeup Artist Judy Yonemoto and Music Composer Dennis Michael Tenney has then discuss their time on the film.

Original video trailer (2:55) has the cool Magnum Entertainment logo from the ’80s.

“Book of Joe” a short film Directed by Kevin Tenney (23:23) stars Zapple. This was his student film. There’s a great assassination moment at the start. Plenty of good gun play for a student film.

Alternate ending for “Book of Joe” (3:44) shows that even a student film has do reshoots.

Production/Promotional still gallery includes ads and promo pics. There’s even a billboard shot.

Vinegar Syndrome presents Witchtrap. Directed by: Kevin Tenney. Screenplay by: Kevin Tenney. Starring: Hal Havins, James Quinn, Rob Zapple, Judy Tatum, Kathleen Bailey, Linnea Quigley. Rated: Unrated. Running Time: 91 minutes. Released: March 23, 2017.

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