Superstition (US - DVD R1)
Gabe has given up on telling stupid people not to enter haunted houses...
A long time ago, an evil witch is strung up and burned by an angry mob (a mob that, in this film, equals about fourteen shouting extras). I'm sorry, she was strung up and drowned, not burned (honestly it's hard to remember these things when a plot is so unimportant). Anyway, while very '80s make-up air bladders ebb and flow on her face, the witch swears vengeance. Apparently she was a little busy in the after life, because after killing the inquisitor who tortured her, she waits about two hundred years to reap anymore beyond the grave vengeance. Some idiots move into the house and begin renovating, despite the fact that they keep getting killed in blatantly supernatural ways.
I never liked The Amityville Horror. Like The Omen, I've always felt that it was an Exorcist cash-in that was somehow mistaken for an important film. The film made money and had fans so inevitably it spawned cash-ins of its own. It's not as if movies about haunted houses were invented in the '70s, but there is a series of specific Amityville Horror rip offs. My personal favourite would have to be Umberto Lenzi's Ghost House, but then, I've always been partial to Italian cash-ins.
Superstition (also known as The Witch), a Canadian made film, jumped on the Amityville bandwagon a little late, in 1982, but was released just in time for the superior Poltergeist (though some accounts state it wasn't actually released in the States until 1985). The film is most well known for its gory death scenes, but little else. Frankly, it's a boring film, spiked with admittedly inspired bouts of violence. The supporting actors are decent, but look just as bored as I was, and the leads are all wholly uninteresting and flat. The plot is basically a way of lining up the next set piece, but the set pieces themselves are too far between.
So why would anyone want to watch such a film? Again, all I can come back to are the death scenes. The film opens with a prank, which lands a teenager's head in a microwave, where it waits to explode in the face of a friend. How the head got in the microwave may be a valid question, but most gore-hound fans will forget to ask when a second teenager is sliced in half by one of the haunted house's windows while trying to escape minutes later. Another moment of violent inspiration comes when a priest is killed by a runaway saw blade, which bores itself into his chest like one of the Phantasm razor balls.
Had Superstition kept this energy level up its full runtime, there may've been some call for its underrated cult status, but alas, it's bogged down by boring exposition and stupid characters speaking.
Another problem with the film is the fact that director James W. Roberson seems to have little understanding of suspense, or perhaps overestimates his work's the fear quotient, because every scare set up goes on far too long. At only eighty minutes, this film is still too long. Every time a character wandered through the catacombs of the house looking for an associate or clue to the murders, I lost interest long before the inevitable bloody accident even took place. With the employment of the fast-forward button the film may be a minor classic, unfortunately, the editors at DVDActive seem to want me to watch a film in its entirety before I make my assessment.
Anchor Bay, the reigning king of excrement polishing, has done another fine job here in making a low-budget film from the early '80s look as if it could've been a low-budget film from the early '90s instead. The overall image is very grainy, but this grain actually adds some much needed texture to the proceedings. Print damage and artefacting is present (but minimal) and black levels are great. There is one instance at the middle/end of the film where an obstructive scratch is on screen for several seconds (see the last screen cap on this page), and this is the transfer's only massive error. For the most part the colour pallet is vibrant, with only a couple scenes suffering in their old age.
There's nothing to celebrate here, but no reason to despair either. The Dolby Digital Mono soundtrack is serviceable. Dialogue is discernable, if not a bit on the inconsistent side. The film's sound design is reasonably energetic, and perhaps could've benefited from a stereo or surround remix. I actually liked the electronic/symphonic score, it reminded me of some of the better Italian horror productions' soundtracks, like those of Goblin or Fabio Fabrizzi, or even Emerson’s Inferno score. Though lacking spatial representation, this audio presentation offers up a fair amount of bass and treble variation.
Erm, we've got a fun trailer, and some other Anchor Bay DVD release trailers.
Not quite the fun time I was hoping for, Superstition is recommended only to avid gore flick enthusiasts with a lot of patience, or a willingness to utilize the fast-forward button. The DVD looks and sounds fine, but is lacking in any features other than a trailer. My quest for a good, '80s era, B-horror flick I haven't seen continues. I suppose as long as I'm on Anchor Bay's mailing list something has to come along.
Review by Gabriel Powers
This product has not been rated
Release Date: 10th October 2006
Disc Type: Single side, dual layer
Audio: Dolby Digital Mono English
Easter Egg: No
Director: James W. Roberson
Cast: James Houghton, Albert Salmi, Lynn Carlin, Larry Pennell, Jacquelyn Hyde
Length: 80 minutes
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