Witchcraft VIII: Salem’s Ghost (1996, directed by Joseph John Barmettler)

Having killed off long-suffering hero Will Spanner in the previous installment, the Witchcraft franchise attempted to chart a new course with Witchcraft VIII: Salem’s Ghost.

In this movie, we meet an entirely new group of people who manage to raise the spirit of another dead and pissed off warlock.  Trying to repair their strained marriage, Sonny (Lee Grober) and Mary Anne (Kim Kopf) have moved to Massachusetts and have purchased a house that’s existed since colonial times.  Sonny and Mary Anne celebrate their first night in the house by getting covered in chocolate.  That’s one way to fix a marriage, I guess.

They soon meet their pushy new neighbors, Mitch (David Wells) and Gayle (Anthoni Stewart).  Mitch is so helpful that he even takes it upon himself to try to fix a leaky pipe in the basement.  However, when Mitch busts a hole in the wall, it not only leads to the basement getting flooded by a strange red light but Mitch also ends up possessed by the spirit of the warlock who previously owned the property.

Other than the presence of a dead warlock and all of the usual softcore sex scenes (which, in the 90s, were pretty much a mainstay of any direct-to-video horror film franchise), there’s nothing in Witchcraft VIII to really link it to any of the previous Witchcraft films.  (I did read that the house in Witchcraft VIII also appears in one of the other films but I’m too lazy and too sick of the Witchcraft films to go back and look for it.)  There’s no Will Spanner and no Detectives Lutz or Garner.  Instead, the entire film owes more to the Amityville franchise than the previous Witchcrafts.  Apparently, when the film went into production, it wasn’t even intended to be a Witchcraft film but instead, it was added to the franchise after filming was completed.

With all that in mind, Witchcraft VIII is not that bad, especially as far as low-budget, direct-to-video horror is concerned.  It doesn’t waste any time getting the action started and the actors actually do the best that they can with the material they’ve been given.  The dead warlock is played Jack van Landingham, who comes across as if he’s auditioning for a role in a pirate film, which is exactly the right approach to take when you’re appearing in a film like this.  Even the terrible special effects are more likely to inspire nostalgia than contempt.  Witchcraft VIII is dumb fun, even if it doesn’t include Will Spanner.  In fact, it’s nice to watch people deal with a warlock without having to listen to Will complaining all the time.

Financially, Witchcraft VIII failed to do as well as the previous Witchcraft films, which led to the end of plans to continue the franchise with a series of stand-alone films.  Instead, despite being dead, Will Spanner would return for Witchcraft IX.

3 responses to “Witchcraft VIII: Salem’s Ghost (1996, directed by Joseph John Barmettler)

  1. Pingback: Witchcraft IX: Bitter Harvest (1997, directed Michael Paul Girard) | Through the Shattered Lens

  2. Pingback: Lisa Marie’s Week In Review: 10/12/20 — 10/18/20 | Through the Shattered Lens

  3. Pingback: Witchcraft X: Mistress of the Craft (1998, directed by Elisar Elisar Cabrera) | Through the Shattered Lens

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