Like many Italian horror films, Witchery is a film that is known by many names.
When it was originally released in Italy, it was called La Casa 4 and it was sold as being a sequel to Sam Raimi’s Evil Dead films. (In Italy, Evil Dead was called La Casa.) In countries where Umberto Lenzi’s Ghosthouse was a hit, this film was entitled Ghosthouse 2. (Adding to the confusion, Ghosthouse was called La Casa 3 in Italy, even though it had nothing to do with the Evil Dead films.) In countries where neither Ghosthouse nor La Casa were hits, this film was sometimes called Witchcraft and sometimes called Witchery. For the purposes of this review, I’m going with Witchery, just because Witchcraft is kind of a bland title.
Anyway, the main lesson to be learned from Witchery is that David Hasselhoff will never be anyone other than David Hasselhoff. In this film, he plays a character named Gary but, from the minute you see him and he starts talking, it’s impossible to think of him as being anyone other than David Hasselhoff. You spend the film thinking, “Uh-oh, David Hasselhoff’s getting sexually frustrated. Uh-oh, that witch is coming for David Hasselhoff. Did they just throw David Hasselhoff through a window?”
David Hasselhoff and his friend Leslie (Leslie Cumming) are in Massachusetts, staying at an abandoned hotel. It’s rumored that, living nearby, there’s a reculsive actress, known as the Woman in Black (Hildegard Knef), who decades ago made some sort of deal with the devil or a witch or something like that and the hotel is now some sort of portal to Hell. Leslie is determined to discover whether the rumors are true but all David Hasselhoff cares about is the fact that Leslie is still a virgin. “It’s not normal,” he tells her, with a look in his eye that suggests that he’s willing to help her out. Somehow, Leslie manages to resist Hasselhoff.
Before Hasselhoff can continue to make his case, both he and Leslie have to hide in the hotel because a group of people show up. It turns out that the Brooks family is interested in buying the hotel so that they can renovate it and hopefully make some money! Now, they’ve arrived and they’re looking to inspect the property. There’s Jane (Linda Blair), who is pregnant. There’s Jane’s obnoxious stepmother, Rose (Annie Ross), who won’t stop complaining. There’s two real estate agents, Linda (Catherine Hickland) and Jerry (Rick Farnsworth). And then there’s a little kid who has a Sesame Street cassette player with him. Have you ever wanted to hear a demonic chant come out of a bulky box decorated with Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch? Well, this is the film for you!
Anyway, the Brooks family ends up getting stranded at the hotel for a night, which gives the Woman In Black several chances to pop up and send people to Hell. It turns out that the hotel is crawling with all sorts of demonic creatures and not even David Hasselhoff can scare them off. One person gets their lips sewn together and is hung in a fireplace. Someone else gets crucified upside down. Someone else gets impaled on a marlin. Because she’s played by Linda Blair, Jane gets possessed….
It’s a real mess of a film and not one that ever makes much sense. You keep wondering just what exactly the Woman In Black is hoping to accomplish but then you realize that the film itself has no idea so you stop worrying about it. Witchery may not be a good film but it’s such a strange film that it’s a little bit hard to resist. I mean, how many other films combine demonic chants with Big Bird? How many other films feature David Hasselhoff playing himself and getting into a fight with Linda Blair? Watching the film, you get the feeling that everyone involved just kinda made it up as they went along.
I’m not exactly recommending Witchery but it is one of those films that’s weird enough to justify viewing it at least once.