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La Casa del Sortilegio

The House of Witchcraft

Italy 1989
produced by
Dania Film/Reteitalia
directed by Umberto Lenzi
starring Andy J. Forrest, Sonia Petrovna, Susanna Martinková, Marina Giulia Cavalli, Paul Muller, Maria Stella Musy, Alberto Frasca, Maria Cumani Quasimodo
written by Gianfranco Clerici, Umberto Lenzi, Daniele Stroppa, music by Claudio Simonetti

Le Case del Terrore

review by
Mike Haberfelner

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Young Luc complains to his sister in law Elsa about a recurring nightmare, of an old hag boiling his head in a cauldron in a spooky kitchen. He claims his wife Martha & her almost unhealthy interest in witchcraft might be the reason - that & their marriage being in shambles anyway.

To give him a rest & to save their marriage, Martha suggests a holiday in the country, but the house where they are staying - the mansion of blind pianist Mason (Paul Muller) - & especially the kitchen immediately remind Luc of his nightmares. ... & then the first killing occurs, the old hag of Luc's dream killing a priest. Luc sees this from his bedroom window, but when he arrives at the scene of the crime, he only finds his wife, as if in a trance, & Mason's lovely niece Sharon ...

Soon the situation becomes unbearable for Luc, especially since the situation between him & Martha doesn't improve at all, & he calls Elsa for help, who comes to stay over the weekend with her daughter Brenda.

Soon though, young Brenda's boyfriend goes missing - killed by the witch of course - & when Brenda goes looking for him, she also meets a violent end ...

& while Martha again seems to be totally in trance & Luc locks her away, believing her to have to do something with the killings, he, Sharon & Elsa, worried about Brenda's whereabouts, go look for her.

Elsa is soon killed by the witch too, though, & Luc & Sharon find footprints of a cat besides her corpse. Thus Luc deducts that his wife must have the ability to turn into a cat, which was also the only way she could have escaped the room he locked her into, & really when they enter that room, Luc & Sharon don't find Martha but a black cat.

That does it for Luc, & he borrows Mason's seeing-eye dog & lets him kill the cat, who, once dead, really turns out to be his wife.

The horror is over it seems, until Mason shoots himself, & a letter he leaves behind claims that he was the actual killer ... neither Luc nor Sharon believe it, but they head off to the next hotel anyways & have passionate sex. The next day, Sharon is gone, & when Luc goes looking for her, he soon finds his path is leading back to Mason's mansion, to the kitchen, where he finds the old hag of his nightmare ... who turns out to be Sharon, who was the witch all along, & only used Martha's sleepwalking & her interest in the occult to shed suspicion onto her. Having confessed that much to Luc, she decapitates him & boils his head in her cauldron ...

 

Director Umberto Lenzi was never a man for subtleties, & this made-for-tv-spooker further proves it, as he doesn't shy away from using every tried-&-true shock-effect in the book, from knifewielding warty old witches & mutilated murdervictims to swinging skulls & a Grim reaper walking around drenched in maggots, never minding if it goes along with the story or not or if it would destroy the built-up atmosphere or suspense.To add to that feeling of inadequacy, most of the actors are genuinely substandard & invariably lack charisma - even genre-fave Paul Muller seems pale here.

... & for some reason this still is an enjoyable little trash movie ...

 

review © by Mike Haberfelner

 

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Robots and rats,
demons and potholes,
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shopping mall Santas,
love and death and everything in between,
Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

is all of that.

 

Tales to Chill
Your Bones to
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a collection of short stories and mini-plays
ranging from the horrific to the darkly humourous,
from the post-apocalyptic
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tales that will give you a chill and maybe a chuckle, all thought up by
the twisted mind of
screenwriter and film reviewer
Michael Haberfelner.

 

Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

the new anthology by
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Out now from
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On the same day
a Burglar wants to kill you
and your Ex wants
to make up ...
... and for the life of it,
you can't decide
WHICH IS WORSE!!!

 

A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
Melanie Denholme
directed by
David V.G. Davies
written by
Michael Haberfelner
starring
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out now on DVD