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  • Witchboard
    • Witchboard
    • Runtime:98 min
    • Release Date:2014-10-25 12:13:05
    • Director: Kevin Tenney
    • Genres: Horror, Mystery, Thriller
    • Studio:
MOVIE REVIEW:Witchboard
Auhtor:

   

WITCHBOARD is a 1980s horror movie about a Ouija Board.

The 1980s were a decade where horror was dominated by the slasher
genre. I love these movies. They were entertaining and usually tense
even if rarely scary. Whether it be Freddy, Jason or Michael, or other
works such as THE HOUSE ON SORORITY ROW, SLUMBER PARTY MASSACRE,
SORORITY HOUSE MASSACRE, VISITING HOURS, SLAUGHTER HIGH, MADMAN or
MANIAC, I am definitely a fan of 1980s slasher horror.

Non-slasher horrors from the 1980s resulted in a mixed set of works. I
love movies like THE CHANGELING, SCANNERS, AFTER MIDNIGHT, CREEPSHOW,
DEMONS and DON'T ANSWER THE PHONE. But for each one of these there were
plenty I consider sub-par. I thought THE ENTITY, SUPERSTITION, PUPPET
MASTER, MAUSOLEUM, SKINNED ALIVE, THE BEAST WITHIN, VIDEODROME,
American Gothic, CUJO, ZOMBIE NOSH, MIDNIGHT, PUMPKINHEAD, THE UNSEEN
amongst many others were dull, uninspiring works.

Before seeing WITCHBOARD, I saw the director's other well-known movie,
NIGHT OF THE DEMONS. I can understand the appeal of that movie to fans
of 1980s movies. It has all the clichés from the era. But I couldn't
get into it at all. I didn't find it effective, scary or particularly
entertaining either to be honest. I was very hesitant about seeing
WITCHBOARD because of this.

But I was wrong because WITCHBOARD is absolutely nothing like NIGHT OF
THE DEMONS. There are no teenagers, no silly masks and make-up effects,
cheesy sex scenes or gallons of fake blood to be found here. It may
have the 1980s costumes and hairstyles but it is different in every
other way to a typical 1980s movie.

The story sees the spirit of a 10-year old boy, David, who died more
than 2000 years ago, released via a Ouija board during a party. Linda
Brewster uses the board more and more to the point of obsession. The
kindly spirit starts to turn nasty and supernatural occurrences begin.

But the story takes many twists and turns. Its strength lays within its
solid script and excellent characterisation. This is very much a
character-driven affair and the story develops effectively because of
it. There was never a dull moment here. The story keeps the viewer
guessing as the twists and turns take hold.

The two leading male characters – Jim and Brandon – are well fleshed
out. The conflict between them in the first half of the movie and how
they re-kindle their former strong friendship in the second half was
truly compelling, emotionally touching and very realistic.

Kevin Tenney's direction is first rate and nothing like his work on
NIGHT OF THE DEMONS. Superb camera angles, well-timed sound effects and
excellent use of high-pitched chords keep the suspense and tension
going in WITCHBOARD.

The menacing force is rarely seen but is implied so effectively by the
script and the direction. Many of the most horrific and suspenseful
scenes actually take place in DAYTIME but this does not do anything to
undermine their effectiveness. This is how well-made WITCHBOARD is.

The acting is first rate as well. Todd Allen, Tawney Kitaen and Stephen
Nichols truly bring their characters to life. There is no overacting
here. These actors are nothing like the bland, annoying youngsters you
find in a typical 1980s movie. There are thankfully no moronic guys or
hysterical young girls to be found.

And special mention should be given to Kathleen Wilhoite, whose punk
spiritual medium character was one of the most interesting eccentric
characters to appear in a horror movie.

For those interested, there is one scene of full-frontal female nudity
to be found. But it is done in a non-sexual context and in a
surprisingly non-gratuitous manner. Again, this is very different from
the usual manner nudity features in a typical 1980s movie. I am very
fussy in this respect. So if the nudity appeals to me, other guys
should be delighted! The only complaint I have is the song over the
ending credits. I would rather have had a creepy orchestral score. But
this is a minor flaw in an otherwise perfect piece of work.

Overall, WITCHBOARD is a truly excellent underrated horror gem from a
bygone era. It ranks up high with the best 1980s movies like THE EVIL
DEAD and EVILSPEAK in its effectiveness. The low rating on IMDb really
is a mystery. I wholeheartedly recommend any horror fan to view it at
least once.

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*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I enjoyed Witchboard in those long ago days when I regularly haunted
Blockbuster looking for late night VHS movies. I recently watched it
again and, well, wasn't as thrilled as I had been 25 years ago.

I suppose the main thing is that, given that it's a horror movie, it
isn't especially scary. Much of it takes in bright sunshine, and there
is little sense of menace. Things happen from time to time (knives
whizzing across the room etc.), but with little dramatic impact. Even
when someone is killed it's all rather gentle, with pretty bright red
blood.

Tawny Kitaen is pleasingly decorative and screams in a mildly startled
way at appropriate intervals. She probably wouldn't have her hair done
like that these days. Todd Allen is annoying and sports a hairstyle
which emphasises how much his ears stick out. Stephen Nicholls plays
his part with a semi-hysterical intensity which rapidly becomes
wearing. And Kathleen Wolhoite irritates beyond measure.

But I suppose that, of its kind, it's OK.

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*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Director Kevin Tenney will probably be best remembered for a certain
little splatter-and-sleaze fest known as Night of the Demons, (not to
be mixed up with that lovable 'Bigfoot the rapist' flick, Night of the
Demon), but thanks to the fine folks at Anchor Bay, we can enjoy his
debut feature again, fully restored and remastered.

Ah yes, there is nothing like screwing around with a Ouija board to
tick off some evil spirits. When you were a kid, everyone knew some
guys brother's friend who had a piano drop on his head through the roof
of his house and had his corpse molested by Satan after he played with
a Ouija board. It was one of those things you just don't do! Have some
respect for the dead! Witchboard follows the consequences of giving the
unliving the greasy goose after a party being held by yuppyish feisty
redhead Linda (Tawney Kitaen) results in her getting a tad too attached
to that unholy piece of cardboard. One of her guests, Brandon, used it
to communicate with the spirit of a little dead boy named David, but
after accidentally leaving it behind, Linda starts using the board on
her own, much to the disgust of her bullish boyfriend Jim. At first,
the spirit seems friendly, it helps Linda find a lost ring. But when
Jim's friend on the construction site dies suspiciously under some old
collapsed scaffold, it isn't long before Brandon puts two and two
together to come up with 666, and the evil spirit fights to take
control of Linda in an attempt to be reborn and destroy her for good.

You can probably piece together what happens for the most part. Brandon
hires a wonky psychic to exorcise the demon, but this only angers up
the spirit who launches a full on assault on those trying to expose it.
As Linda gets sicker and more unstable, it's up to Jim and Brandon to
get to the bottom of who the ghost really is if they want to save
Linda's life. Oh yeah, throw in some annoying detective who likes to
speak in riddles for no good reason at all! In terms of a low budget
film made in the mid 80's, this one still has a lot going for it. The
filmmakers made a brave choice to go against the grain and to tone down
on needless gore and to up tension and atmosphere. The film is a slow
burner, taking it's time to develop the creepy stuff, and allow the
story to play out naturally. Tenney gets quite creative in terms of how
it is filmed, and actually manages to get some genuine scares and a
sense of dread before the OTT ending kicks in. The acting is reasonable
for the most part, with only the 'annoying as a pubic hair between the
teeth' psychic Zarabeth really grating. It's funny how 80's horror
males usually either look like ridiculous nerds or ridiculous
homosexuals. Jim and Brandon fall into the latter category. These boys
sure knew how to use hair dryers and tanning beds, and at one stage in
the motel room, I though they were gonna straight up 69 each other. No
joke.

Oh yeah, and the cop who pops up to investigate the deaths and speak in
riddles has nothing to really do with the film at all. All he does is
add more running time to an already lengthy film, it really could have
done with losing 10-15 minutes. There were also one too many 'fake
scare' moments, the graveyard scene had about three of them, and they
were all with Jim putting his hand on Brandon's shoulder! They didn't
even bother putting music or stings on them! Lazy.

Saying all that, Witchboard is still a lot of fun. Even the plodding
bits manage to be interesting enough, and the camera work is of a high
enough standard to keep your eyes open. With only one or two moments of
brief gore, we do get a late-in-the-day shower scene from Tawney, so
don't turn it off before that. I'm sure a lot of folks remember this
one from it's VHS days and look back with fond memories. I just wish
Anchor Bay had kept the original artwork in the UK, the cover we got
was horrible.

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This movie is great I use the vote that is supposed to be used for
correct rating towards movies. I bugs the heck out of me when I go
through the reviews, people do not vote right and the movies don't get
the credit for what it is, so there is a lower rating on the movie.
Come on people that review and just put I give it ** 1/2 out of **** is
not correct rating. That does nothing to the rating of the movie. Not
using the vote feature of this site just leaves it where it is like you
never been on this site at all. Well, back to the movie. I seen this so
long ago, and when I was a lot younger. I enjoyed it and got freaked
out when watching it. It is one of the best 80's horror flicks. It is a
classic. I saw the second one too, but not the third.

The second one I thought was just as scary as this one. I recommend if
anyone that has not seen this to rent it or maybe it is on DVD now to
rent it or buy it. Now, for a hint to IMDb. Please make that vote
option a mandatory to vote for the movie, because good movies are
getting low ratings because of lack of members not using the vote
feature.

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