Witchcraft X: Mistress of the Craft (1998, directed by Elisar Elisar Cabrera)

In the tenth entry in the ludicrously long-running Witchcraft series, conflicted warlock Will Spanner does not appear.  Fortunately, it’s not because he’s dead again.  Instead, it’s just because Will lives in New York and Witchcraft X: Mistress of the Craft takes place in London.

Instead, Witchcraft X focuses on Detective Lucy Lutz (Stephanie Beaton, returning to the role after playing it in the previous film).  Focusing on Detective Lutz actually makes sense, just because Stephanie Beaton was one of the better actresses to regularly appear in direct-to-video horror movies and she was also probably the main reason why many people were watching the Witchcraft films to begin with.  It certainly wasn’t for the special effects or the plots.

In this film, Detective Lutz has been summoned to London because a cult leader named Hyde (Kerry Knowlton) has been arrested by Interpol.  Hyde is wanted for a series of murders in Los Angeles and the London police cannot wait to send him back to the United States where he’ll be executed for sure.  (Jokes on them.  California has one of the slowest death rows in the country.)  But before Hyde can be sent back to L.A., they need to fly Lutz over so she can brief them on Hyde’s crimes.  I guess email was still a luxury in 1998.

No sooner has Lutz arrived than a vampire named Raven (Eileen Daly) is breaking Hyde out of custody so that Hyde can help her conduct one of those occult ceremonies that every single Witchcraft film seems to revolve around.  Raven has an army of frequently naked female vampires to help her out.  Lutz only has Interpol agent Chris Dixon (Sean Harry) and paranormal expert Celeste (Wendy Cooper) to help her out.

I liked that this movie tried to do something different with the franchise without totally abandoning the characters.  Even though neither Will nor Garner appears in Witchcraft X, they’re mentioned by Lutz so it’s not like Witchcraft VIII where Will’s existence was totally ignored.  Detective Lutz is a good heroine and Stephanie Beaton is an appealing actress.  I also liked that the film took place in London and that, like Witchcraft VII, it involved vampires instead of the usual shady warlocks.  The dialogue is really clunky, none of the other actors are as good as Beaton, and the film looks like it was shot with a camcorder and then edited by someone using a VCR  but that’s pretty much par for course for a Witchcraft film.

It’s easy to imagine the Witchcraft series going forward with just Detective Lutz as the lead character.  That didn’t happen, though.  Will Spanner would return for Witchcraft XI.

Game Review: You Couldn’t Have Done That (2020, Ann Hugo)

You Couldn’t Have Done That is an entrant in 2020 Interactive Fiction Competition.  All of the entries can be played here.

In You Couldn’t Have Done That, you are a teenager named Theodora, “Theo” for short.  It’s your first day working at Lydia’s, a trendy clothing store in the mall.  The first day on a new job is difficult for anyone but, along with being nervous and wanting to make a good impression on the boss, you are also autistic.  Throughout the game, you’re forced to deal with people.  There’s a janitor in the mall.  There’s a customer who you recognize from school.  You have two very different coworkers.  Many of the things that many people do automatically, like smiling back at someone, are things that you have to think about and make a conscious decision to do.  Some people you meet are empathetic.  Most are not.

Throughout You Couldn’t Have Done That, you are given options for how to deal with the situations that arise through the day.  Often times, I would pick the option that, to me, made the most sense just to be told that “You couldn’t have done that.”  Even though you may want to and you may know it’s what most people would expect you to do, you simply cannot do it.  It was frustrating but that was the point.  Every time the story says, “You couldn’t have done that,” you experience the frustration that Theo experiences every day.  The game puts you directly into Theo’s head and you see the world through her eyes and, by the end of this short story, you are hopefully a more empathetic person than you were before the story began.  Theo’s day is not easy but the story at least ends on a note of hope.  It can get better.

You Couldn’t Have Done That can be experienced here.

Horror on TV: Baywatch Nights 2.20 “Hot Winds” (dir by Parker Stevenson)

On tonight’s episode of Baywatch Nights, the wind is making people in California go insane!  Could it because the wind is hot and annoying?  Or is it that there’s a Satanist doing something evil out in the desert?

Don’t worry, California!  David Hasselhoff and Angie Harmon are on the case!

This episode originally aired on May 3rd, 1997.

Horror Scenes That I Love: Tor Johnson vs Richard Carlson in Behind Locked Doors

Since today is Tor Johnson’s birthday, I wanted to share a scene from Plan 9 From Outer Space or Bride of the Monster or even the Beast of Yucca Flats.

Unfortunately, YouTube would not cooperate.  I found a lot of tribute videos that people had done.  I found several videos of Tor playing Lobo with silly music playing in the background.  There were a lot of weird Tor/Bela tribute videos.  (Apparently, there’s a very active community of Lobo/Varnoff shippers, which was not something that I really needed to know.)  Anyway, try as I did, I couldn’t find any decent videos of just Tor walking into a wall or rising from the dead of reaching for the bunny in Beast of Yucca Flats.

However, I did find this clip from a film in which Tor Johnson appeared in 1948.  Apparently, Behind Locked Doors was noir about a detective who goes undercover at a sanitarium.  One of the other patients at the sanitarium?  TOR JOHNSON!

So, enjoy this chance to see Tor Johnson in a scene not directed by Ed Wood or Coleman Francis.  (The scene was directed by Budd Boetticher, who has a far different critical reputation that both Misters Wood and Francis.)

4 Shots From 4 Films: Special Tor Johnson Edition

4 Shots From 4 Films is just what it says it is, 4 shots from 4 of our favorite films. As opposed to the reviews and recaps that we usually post, 4 Shots From 4 Films lets the visuals do the talking.

Today is Tor Johnson’s birthday so it just seems appropriate to present….

4 Shots From 4 Tor Johnson Films

Bride of The Monster (1955, dir by Ed Wood)

Plan 9 from Outer Space (1959, dir by Ed Wood)

Night of the Ghouls (1960, dir by Ed Wood)

The Beast from Yucca Flats (1961, dir by Coleman Francis)

Horror On The Lens: Invasion of the Saucer Men (dir by Edward Cahn)

Invasion of The Saucer Men

The poster above pretty much epitomizes everything that I love about old B-movies.  Between the aliens and the poster’s promise that we’re being given the chance to “SEE (the) night the world nearly ended…!,” it’s hard to resist the temptation to give Invasion of the Saucer Men a chance.

First released in 1957, Invasion of the Saucer Men is, in many ways, a standard alien invasion film.  Aliens land in a small town and cause a lot of inconvenience for a bunch of all-American teenagers who are just looking for a place to make out.  What sets Invasion of the Saucer Men apart is that it’s meant to intentionally humorous and the aliens totally kick ass.

So, here is today’s edition of Horror On The Lens: Invasion of the Saucer Men!

Music Video of the Day: Freedom by Alice Cooper (1987, directed by ????)

Alice Cooper singing about freedom is exactly what we all need to hear today.

This song was the first and only single off of Alice Cooper’s seventeenth solo album, Raise Your Fist and Yell.  Despite celebrating freedom and being promoted by the music video above, the single failed to chart in the United States.  However, in the UK, it reached #50 in the charts.  Maybe across the pond, it was better appreciated that the video featured Rambo on guitar.  (That’s actually Kane Roberts on guitar.  Roberts co-wrote this song and is a legitimate rock and roll great.  The presence of Roberts makes it easier to forgive the fact that Kip Winger played bass on Freedom.)

This song came out at around the same time that the Senate was investigating rock music and there was a strong push for warning labels to be put on albums.  This song was Cooper’s response to the Tipper Gores of the world.  “Stop pretending you’ve never been bad,” the lyrics say before going on to take a stand for freedom of speech.