Warlock-turned-attorney-turned investigator Will Spanner returns in this, the 12th Witchcraft film.
Now blandly played by a comedian named Chip James, Will may be back but the rest of the usual suspects are missing and, in fact, aren’t even mentioned in this film. No Lutz. No Garner. No Kelli, despite the fact that Witchcraft XI ended with Will and Kelli finally getting engaged. There’s was a two year gap between this film and the previous Witchcraft film and I guess a lot of could have happened during that time period. In this Witchcraft, Will doesn’t say anything about being married and he ends up having sex with another woman so I’m going to guess that things didn’t work out with Will and Kelli. Maybe Kelli finally got tired of every warlock on the west coast trying to abduct her during ever lunar eclipse.
Like so many of the Witchcraft films, In The Lair of the Serpent opens with someone picking up a beautiful woman outside of a nightclub. This time, it’s Jeff Lawton (Bruce Blauer) who picks up Tisa (Monika Wild). Tisa is a part of a cult of women who worship an ancient snake goddess. Tisa and her fellow snake worshippers spend their time picking up men, seducing them, and then sacrificing them as a part of a complex ritual designed to bring the snake goddess into the world. It’s good to see that Satan is not the only deity who demands that his followers engage in overly complex rituals before he’ll even think of meeting with them.
Jeff Lawton’s sister, Cindy (Janet Keijser), turns to Will to help solve the mystery of Jeff’s murder. (Conveniently, Will is an old family friend.) Since the last time we saw Will, he had apparently moved his legal practice to Seattle. He returns to Long Beach for Jeff’s funeral and, convinced that the police don’t understand what they’re dealing with, he helps Cindy to investigate her brother’s death. Will also hooks up with Cindy, a move that leaves those of us who have actually watched the other films in this stupid franchise wondering whether or not Kelly is up in Seattle, waiting for her husband to come back home. It all leads to the usual magical battle between Will and the coven.
The special effects aren’t terrible, which is a step up from the previous Witchcraft films, and Janet Keijser is actually pretty good as Cindy. Even the supernatural killer looks like a genuine otherworldly creature instead of someone wearing a rubber mask. By the admittedly low standards of this franchise, Witchcraft XII almost feels like a real movie. Almost!
By the time this one came around, the Witchcraft series was no longer as popular as it once was. Softcore direct-to-video thrillers became less of a big deal as more and more people gained access to the Internet, which is a roundabout way of saying that Witchcraft‘s target audience no longer had to go the video store if they wanted to see a topless actress. They could just search the web. It would be six years before there was another chapter in the life of Will Spanner.