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Monday, August 15, 2011

Witchouse (1999) Horror Witches

Witchouse (1999) - At the height of the straight to VHS period of movies Full Moon Pictures was one of my go to sources for cheap, and often bad horror movies. There are some to be loved like the Puppet Master series, Subspecies and Killjoy but then there is the three Witchouse movies. Ah not the greatest trilogy in the collection but for better or worse getting a trilogy review of Witchouse here at Soresport Movies. The first in the set is probably the most poorly edited of the three. Granted you could never expect the highest quality Full Moon, they produced quick and easy films with some, now dated but at the time fun special effects. There was never too much story and mostly no nudity making them easy to get horror choices for teens in the video store. All of the Witchouse movies are late in the game as the new decade of the aughts saw the coming trend of DVD and digital film making Full Moon was still hacking a niche on VHS. Watching the film is not a chore but cheesy fun. It seems like director David DeCoteau never cared a lick about continuity or maybe it was writer Matthew Jason Walsh who failed to notice the overlap of information given in scenes. There are at least three references to the spell book of little use. It could be that this story was rewritten so many times that a good script editing needed to be done before shooting it. In any case you will quickly notice repeat source of plot that need not be there, strange cutting used to keep the pace up because longer scenes would slow the thing down and repeated story elements many of which never become part of the story. DeCroteau continues attempt his trade and I see on IMDB that several of his later works are in the Soresport collection so some more reviews may show his progression as a director.
The plot of Witchouse is that Elizabeth(Ashley McKinney) has invited a group of acquaintances to her house for a ghostly themed party. Then as they start being turned into evil acolytes for the long dead recently brought back Lilith Le Fey the survivors fight for their lives. Le Fey a witch who was burned at the stake by town folks, after sacrificing a townies baby in an evil ritual, is now getting her revenge on the descendants of those who killed her. The film starts off going for gusto as two guests arrive Margret (Kimberley Pullis) and Bob (Jason Faunt). There is nobody around to greet them so they wander around the house a bit before they decide arriving at the party early is the perfect time for sex in the cellar. As they undress they see someone in the shadows, then glowing eyes before they stand perfectly still while they are stabbed to death. No blocking blows, no fleeing, not even by Margret who first watches Bob get killed. She just stands there waiting her turn to scream. Role credits and lets get to the party.
Well its not much of a party in fact it is just a four couples hanging around waiting for the hostess. No music or fun but plenty of candles. We are introduced to the crew at the party, Brad (Ryan Scott Greene) shy hipster wanna be with a lack of self confidence with the ladies. Scott (Dane Northcutt) the football star with the pretty girlfriend Maria (Marissa Tait), there is the druggie guy in Tony (Dave Oren Ward) who I learned in the final credits died the year the movie was released. Tony is all about his weed and beer in everything he does and says, he is at the party with Janet (Brooke Mueller) the tough girl from the wrong side of the tracks. This actress was particularly good at attacking her lines like they needed to be bludgeoned to death by her teeth on the way out of her mouth. Jack (Matt Raftery) the applied science major who uses his learned skills when the plot calls for it. He also has a lack of confidence with the ladies. Jennifer (Monica Serene Garnich) a late arrival who likes Jack and has a plot secret. They are all being hosted by Elizabeth who speaks like she just popped out of a late 1800's romance novel and has her own little secret agenda for gathering this group.
The basic story is this group have been invited because they are the descendants of the town. We learn this several times because in unconnected repetitive scenes the characters reference a book the Necronomicon Le Fey that holds power and each of there names. Never do these volumes ever get used in the plot other than to be noticed by the characters. Elizabeth has brought them together so she can have them all in the same place when she raises her fore-mother Lilith Le Fey's spirit (Ariauna Albright). This spirit will get back at the townsfolk by killing these 20 somethings that before finding the books could care less that they are connected to the town. So the spirit get around looking for characters who have wandered off and either kills or converts them to ghoulish minions with glowing eyes. That is the fate of Maria and Scott who sneak off to one of the bedrooms to have sex. A green glowing mist takes over the sleeping Scott in his post activity sleep while Maria is in the shower cleaning his football smell off. Then she too is converted to a minion.
The film maker does something right and should get credit where it is due. A lot of this film is pairs or individuals wandering around the set... I mean house. Since this can be very boring the director inter cut attacks and spirit sighting and the such with the wandering scenes. So as Scott sleeps and we see the mist closing in we cut out to see Jack and Jennifer exploring with not much going on. The quick cuts make the movie move a bit faster because as we are building tension in one place we are taking care of logistics in another without lowing the overall tension too much. So when Maria and Scott are done being converted to demon possessed minion, Jack and Jenn are now in position to have it be found out. So as people are killed others are moved into position for the next sequence good. I can not imagine how lethargic this movie would be without this technique.
As the number of guests dwindles we move to the inevitable final confrontation between Elizabeth and ghost Lilith and the final two guests. There is a twist and an ending that is less than satisfying. In the end a mediocre story was poorly executed and the viewer is left to wonder whether they should look at the second in this trilogy Witchouse II: Blood Coven.
Rating (2.3) 5.0 and up are recommended in the Zombiegrrlz system I say Skip It!

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