Previously on WITCHCRAFT:
Warlock-turned-lawyer Will Spanner was pulled into the case of a young man accused of killing his girlfriend, slowly becoming immersed in a labyrinthine plot set up by a disc jockey, who has purchased the soul of a young woman in order to further her jazz singing career. Weird sub-“Twin Peaks” level noir antics ensued, and Will came out on top. To read more, click here, or start from the beginning.
In Talun Hsu’s WITCHCRAFT V: DANCE WITH THE DEVIL, the producers at Vista Street finally discovered boobs. Oh, sure, boobs had been around the series since the second entry, swinging pendulously across the screen during a few climactic moments, but WITCHCRAFT V is the first entry in the series where you get the impression that the filmmakers were concerned about having lots of them around. “Maybe,” you can almost hear producers saying, “instead of having five minutes of people walking, we just do really long sex scenes? And then we can have boobs every twenty minutes or so instead of just at the climactic moments! And we can see everyone’s boobs! Booooooooooobs!
The film’s emphasis on boobs can be seen right from the opening scene, as blonde Marta (the Sally Kirklandesque Nicole Sassaman) entices a would-be client in a shady motel room. “Want to play with these?” she asks her Wayne Knightian john. It’s almost like the WITCHCRAFT producers trying to tantalize their potential audience, as she fondles herself in underwear before whipping out her assets for display.
But, oh! Much like WITCHCRAFT V itself, the boobs are just a tease! Our corpulent client is the victim of a ruse, and he soon finds himself knocked out by Marta’s boyfriend, who inadvertently kills the guy as part of a scheme by the pair to rob horny guys of their funds. Intent on covering up their crime, our low-rent duo sticks the body in the truck and hits the road.
Meanwhile, a limousine carries the Reverend Meredith (Lenny Rose, a regular in many early David DeCoteau films) and his buxom secretary who is never given a name. When the john-killing lovers accidentally run over a bum (“It coulda happened to anybody,” the boyfriend says about the bad day he’s having what with all his murdering) the Rev stops to help him, only to find some weird energy essence that resembles a toddler scrawling over the film with a yellow crayon transferred from the bum to him. He makes his way back to the limo, but now he’s different, as can be determined by the fact that he smokes.
When their car stalls out in a forest, Marta and her beau make their way to a campfire and cabin inhabited by a strange, hooded man who introduces himself as a “collector of debts.” Being far too stupid to immediately run away from mysterious hooded men who speak with accents about prophecies in the middle of nowhere, the pair knock him out too and wander into his cabin, discovering a valuable-looking sword. (They say it looks valuable, anyway. To me, it looked like a low-level cosplay sword you can pick up at any fantasy convention.) It’s a trap, of course, and the mysterious stranger reveals himself as an evil fellow named Cain and takes control of Marta, making her kill her boyfriend and taking her under his wing.
It’s nearly 20 minutes into the film, and you may be wondering where the hell Will Spanner, the hero of the first four entries, is. He’s finally introduced at this point, and he’s no longer played by Charles Solomon, but future producer (like Solomon!) Marklen Kennedy, who, at 25 when the film was shot, looks younger than Solomon was in WITCHCRAFT II! Perhaps he regenerates occasionally, like The Doctor. I’m sure this will be explained in later sequels.
Will is now living with blonde Keli, and while there’s one line of lip service to the fact that Will is still a lawyer, he spends most of the film at home wearing nothing but pajama bottoms. He and Keli make a rare journey out of their bedclothes to see a hypnotist’s show at a club Will hates (I am not going to go into their relationship issues, because they seriously need therapy well before any of the plot kicks in) and, lo and behold, it’s Cain, who’s returned because “It’s the sixth day of the sixth month of the sixth year since I last appeared” (!?) and he, along with new assistant Marta, leads his fan base into a cult-like chanting. He also hypnotizes Will, making him imitate a chicken and a duck. (Weirdly, this is presented off-screen, as though Kennedy’s chicken and duck impressions were too hot for film.)
He also implants a little bit of a suggestion to him upon discovering that he’s a warlock, so later that night, our hero, back in his pajama bottoms, is visited by Marta in his dreams and they have sex in the film’s first ridiculously elongated love scene. The sex scenes in WITCHCRAFT V are so prolonged that you can actually sense composer Miriam Cutler (who created the scores for parts 2 through 8 and later backed noteworthy documentaries like LOST IN LA MANCHA, CHRIS & DON: A LOVE STORY and GOD’S ARMY) getting bored, repeating the same two notes backed by a frenzied build-up that seems to lead to a dramatic climax the movie itself never bothers producing.
In his sexified trance-like dream state and pajama bottoms, he also meets up with Cain, who sets him on a mission of soul collection in order to be reborn and for Satan to return. (It’s a little vague, and Cain mentions that he needs hundreds of souls so sending him off to collect them on a case-by-case basis doesn’t seem particularly efficient, but who am I to judge a Luciferian minion?) His first stop is a nightclub owner, whom we’re repeatedly told owns ten successful clubs, and who finds himself on the wrong end of Will’s hypnotically-induced stabby nature.
Will wakes up with blood on his hands, and Keli asks what he was going at night (as one does when one’s spouse has blood on their hands in the morning, he calls her a “fucking bitch,” smacks her and throws her across the room by her neck. Counseling is suggested. Will does not think it is a good idea. Yay, stable relationship!
Instead of, y’know, calling the cops, Keli brings in her pastor, the aforecrayoned Reverend Meredith, who brings along with him the bad-haired Anastasia, a channeller who can sense evil, played by Ayesha Hauer, Rutger’s daughter. Anastasia’s powers seem to mostly involve lighting candles, waving her hands around and yelling in German, which may have seemed “supernaturalish” on the set but just comes off like some lady yelling in German on screen. She tries to get the pajama bottomed Will enclosed in a mystical circle, but Marta shows up, offs her and seduces Will because she can’t get enough of his sweetly pajamaed warlock ass.
Eventually, it’s revealed that the Reverend is actually a fallen angel, who Cain has been wanting to get at for centuries. He’s not that angelic, mind you, as he sleeps with his secretary (boooobs) before actually doing something about the new mystical threat. In the end, there’s a big climax between Cain and Will involving a swordfight that gives off sparkles, a beheading, more boobs, a heart getting ripped out and, finally, the series’ first glimpse of male nudity as Will abandons his pajama bottoms halfway through a sexy shower with Keli. (It turns rapey.)
There’s a fair share of entertainment to be had in WITCHCRAFT V in between sex scenes, mostly due to some absurd dialogue courtesy writers James Merendino (returning from part IV) and Steve Tymon (writer of the Don “The Dragon” Wilson RING OF FIRE trilogy). We get a doctor clearing Will with “His signs are negative now.” We get Keli responding to Will’s assault with “It was like he had supernatural strength or something! And all that talk about Satan!” We get a Christian rock singer who’s sold his soul spouting “I hope God pisses down your fucking throat” to his bandmates. And we get every damn thing that comes out of Cain’s mouth.
Every entry in the WITCHCRAFT series thus far has had at least one performance that seems to be on a completely different plain, if not planet, from the rest of the film, and in WITCHCRAFT V, that’s Cain. Played by one-film actor David Huffman like THE SILENCE OF THE LAMBS’ Buffalo Bill diving into the role of GHOSTBUSTERS II’s Vigo with enough wild abandon you’d think he was going to be rewarded with a vagina, Cain steals every moment he’s in, even if he’s just making wild facial expressions in the background. He gives all of the panache you’d hope for to dialogue like “You will sacrifice her in preparation for my glorious return to Satan!” or “You live only because it amuses me!” I want him to be in all the movies.
While WITCHCRAFT V basically serves as a way to show a bunch of Beelzeboobs, the horror aspects fall by the wayside save for a couple of violent set pieces, like the aforementioned heart-ripping. It does, however, feature a genuinely scary moment – that of Marta pouring candle wax on Will’s hairy chest. As a similarly-hirsute male, the idea of Kennedy having to rip out chunks of wax with, no doubt, hairs still attached after the scene was filmed filled me with a dread few movies have. Wax can be sexy and Kennedy’s a good-looking guy, but, man, that made me cringe.
WITCHCRAFT V begins with the now-familiar WITCHCRAFT logo, followed by opening credits in a completely different font, as is the series’ trademark. It’s as though they blew their credit budget on the logo itself, and then had to do the rest on a Video Toaster attached to an Amiga 600. The film’s subtitle, “Dance with the Devil,” appears after the logo, an afterthought put in at the last minute because, let’s face it, WITCHCRAFT V was inevitable, and the subtitles rarely have anything to do with the films anyway. To be fair, one character does eventually say “Don’t dance with the devil,” but there is no dancing (despite the film being about nightclub ownership) and the devil is only alluded to.
The sudden discovery of the wonderful world of boobs makes WITCHCRAFT V feel like a turning point in the series, at least from what I understand with regards to the later, more sex-focused entries. There’s still, however, a definitive plot and supernatural storyline, and Cain’s performance alone makes the film an entertaining time killer.
Will Spanner would be back for more, even if he wouldn’t take the form of Kennedy, who was so inspired by the film that he became a nightclub mogul himself. It’s not surprising that Kennedy bolted after one film, becoming the series’ first George Lazenby, as Will’s trance-like state gives him little to do but stare menacingly, wear pajama bottoms and grab some occasional boooooobs.
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