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Shaun vs. Witchery aka La Casa 4 (1988)

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Directed by Fabrizio Laurenti

Starring David Hasselhoff, Linda Blair and Catherine Hickland

The Hoff and his girlfriend decide to check out a mysterious old house that was home to a possible witch.  A family of prospective buyers show up to check on the place and it’s not long before they become the unwilling victims of a witch’s satanic ritual.



Gary (Hoff) and Linda (Hickland) are off to photograph an old hotel on an island off the coast of Massachusetts due to its past history involving witchcraft, which Linda just so happens to be researching.  Technically they’re trespassing since it’s private property and it isn’t long before a family of prospective buyers comes along being shown the area.  As they run into each other, the tide goes out and they become trapped on the island until someone comes to rescue them (this was before cell phones so it could be a while.)

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Here fishy fishy fishy

Through some wonderful exposition later in the film, we learn about some of the past history of the old hotel.  Just to remind you, witches are bad, mkay?  Tommy, the little boy of the family, runs into an elderly woman dressed in black from time to time though no one else seems to see her — until it’s too late, of course.  She is an evil witch who catches her victims, tortures them as part of a satanic ritual and kills them off in some rather cruel ways.

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Don’t lie, this is what you came to see.

The story seems to be made up on the fly at times.  Things happen with very little to no context unless the story demands that it be explained.  There’s something to do with three doors being closed whenever the lady in black kills her victims, though she requires more than three victims to complete the odd ritual.  Eventually there is a “partial” explanation for why these events are happening however if you can make sense of it, more power to you.

The film is not only violent, but cruel at times to boot.  The mother of the family becomes one of the first victims when she is whisked away via magical portal to get her mouth slowly and painfully stitched together and then she is placed in the chimney where the other characters eventually start a fire in the fireplace and unknowingly cook her alive.  Super weird, really mean.  The witch later needs the blood of a virgin to help with her ritual so she sends one of her disgusting lackeys to attack the daughter in her sleep and there’s an uncomfortable rape scene. 

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By “whisked” I mean scream at the camera while a terrible effect vertigos the audience to death.

Being an Italian production filmed in the U.S., the majority of the cast are European actors who are eventually dubbed over into English which is odd since they seem to be speaking English just fine on their own. The dialogue is pretty awful but that’s another notch in the “unintentional comedy” column, of which there are several notches.  One of the funniest examples would be of how unwilling anyone on the mainland is to help out the father of one of the characters stuck on the island.  Everyone claims how bad the sea is though we never see how bad the water REALLY is, a girl sees a flare in the sky and is told to go back to bed instead of investigating or calling for help, etc.  The poor souls on the island have no luck whatsoever.

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That’s just…mean.

All in all, Witchery is a bit of a mess.  The convoluted story and atrocious dialogue are worth a couple of laughs for sure and the film is bloody at times, though not necessarily in that fun horror way. 

TL;DR

Story: 3 – The base story involving a group of people forced to fight evil in a house is fine but the film’s explanation for anything makes little sense.

Blood: 7 – In addition to what you read above you get an impalement via swordfish, someone being bled out with the voodoo/witchcraft and an upside down cross burning.

Nudity: 5 – Most of the nudity you’ll see is from the rape scene so it’s not very enjoyable.

Overall: 4 – Witchery has its moments, both intentional and otherwise, but it’s not much for a recommendation.

Trivia

-The film has a tenuous connection to the Evil Dead series.  When the original Evil Dead was brought over to Italy, it was renamed ‘La Casa’ (The House.)  So it stood to reason that when Evil Dead II came out, it would be renamed ‘La Casa 2.’  Famed Italian filmmaker Joe D’Amato (see my review of D’Amato’s Anthropophagus) saw more dollar signs in the La Casa series so he produced several unofficial sequels, of which Witchery is one of them.  It was originally known as ‘La Casa 4’ though it and the other sequels thankfully have nothing to do with Evil Dead.

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