The 80s cult horror film WitchTrap is another win for the MVD Rewind Collection. The Blu-ray is filled with special features and a stunner of a transfer.
Not to be mistaken with the other 80’s cult horror film Witchboard. Witchtap to further add confusion is directed by the same man, Kevin Tenney. Witchtrap goes over similar grounds but is a bit more polished and a lot more fun. Though Board has one huge advantage over Trap; Tawny Kitaen. Though not to be outdone, Trap does have Linnea Quigley (whom everyone should know from Return of the Living Dead).
Tenney’s Witchtrap is a simple haunted house movie filled with all the clichés that go along with it. A “paranormal” team is brought in to investigate the hauntings of a $5 – $6 million dollar estate that’s been turned into a Bed and Breakfast. What the film lack in narrative and performer coherence is more than made up for in gore, really bad one-liners, and “witty banter”. This is a film that needs to be seen with as many people and as much beer & pizza as possible. It’s a true cult film and a lot of fun.
The film manages to be that magical 4% off the mark. It captures that wonderfully cultish almost professional tone that just misses the mark. The concept and what Tenney attempts to do is on point. There is a certain Sam Raimi vibe that Tenney tries to accomplish. Tenney only partially succeeds at his aim. Where Raimi’s camera work and editing are genius-level perfection, Tenney’s is resoundingly perfunctory and at times goofy. This should not deter any audience from viewing the film. Point in fact that is the very reason the entire enterprise is half the fun it turns out to be.
There is one aspect the movie gets right: The Gore. This release of the Unrated Cut has some great kills that any horror fan should revel in. Tenney does have the right idea with the set pieces and most work though some off in one way or another. This never distracts, only adding to the enjoyment of this cultish horror entry. The weak character development and cliched story arcs add to the “cannon fodder” effect, similar to Friday the 13th and its multiple iterations. You will find yourself cheering for the house to off these characters in the most inventive ways possible. For the most part, it delivers.
Ultimately, Witchtrap lands as a successfully weird and odd piece of cult cinema that’s designed to be enjoyed. Within its runtime, it houses some genuine thrills and chills along with some serious misfires. Add a cast that doesn’t realize how silted they are, only adds to the fun and enjoyment. There are some genuinely great passages and set pieces in Witchtrap one just wishes that instead of laughing at it, you have been able to laugh with it. All the same, it’s a good cult horror oddity that should be seen.
The transfer canned and restored in 2K in 2016 from the 35mm Interpositive on this Blu-Ray is stunning. The film may be a by-product of the era it was made in, that typical low-budget 80’s era horror film look. The transfer shines through and through. The image is razor sharp with great contrast and the perfect amount of grain structure to give the disc that 35mm look we all love.
They include the following;
- Group commentary track with: Director Kevin Tenney, Producer Dan Duncan, Cinematographer Tom Jewett and Actor Hal Havins
- Interview with Director Kevin Tenney
- Interview with actress Linnea Quigley
- Interview with Cinematographer Tom Jewett
- Interview with Special Effects Supervisor Tassilo Baur
- Witchtrap VHS Version
- Photo Gallery
- Original Trailer
The Group commentary track with: Director Kevin Tenney, Producer Dan Duncan, Cinematographer Tom Jewett, and Actor Hal Havins – begins with introduction and how this film was made and where in their careers it was made. Some of the details include the alternate title; the writing of the script – which was done very quickly for reasons Tenney explains; how the film was edited on video initially and then cut a second time and finished on film; the production filming in Fairfield California – and how much assistance they got by filming there; the additional scenes they had to write to fill out the runtime to fulfill the 90-minute runtime contractual obligation from the company that purchased the film; the issues with the production sound that caused them to have to do all studio ADR dialog; the technical challenges like ensuring TV monitors in the film were synced, the work to light 35mm, the work to focus 35mm, the practical FX works, and more; the trouble with the MPAA; and more. The group is having a great time and understands the film they’ve made. Though not chatter but some great details about the production.
Interview with Director Kevin Tenney (23:36) – in this interview Tenney discusses with focus the making of the film. Some of the details include how the financing came about for a feature film – his dropping out of school to film it; his work on Witchboard and Night of the Demons that lead to a lower budget film WitchTrap; the ambition of the film that overshadowed his previous – larger budgeted films – two films; how the speed at which the money was given and needed to be used dictated everything in the film; the troubles that occurred during the production and much more.
Interview with actress Linnea Quigley (13:40) – in this interview Quigley begins with how she began acting “by accident”. Some of the other details include why she did so much horror in the 1980s; the progression of her career that led to working with director Kevin Tenney on Night of the Demons; working on WitchBoard with Tenney and the rest of the cast and crew; and more.
Interview with Cinematographer Tom Jewett (15:09) – in this interview with Jewett begins his account about going to film school and learning his craft. Some of the details include how he met Tenney on a film that the director was fired on and Tenney was the replacement; working with Tenney on multiple films, and their relationship; Tenney’s directorial style; some great stories about the production; and much more.
Interview with Special Effects Supervisor Tassilo Baur (17:11) – in this interview with Baur begins with the interesting way that he got into SFX and went to USC Film School. Some of the other details include how he met Tenney at USC film school which began their collaboration; films that lead up to working on feature films with Tenney; some great theories about SFX and how he approaches SFX; his work in horror and his problem with the genre – which is interesting and not what one thinks; how the infamous shower scene was achieved; how the possessed bullet was achieved; and much more.
Witchtrap VHS Version (92 mins, 1.33:1) – the VHS version is everything you would want from a VHS version ported over to Blu-Ray including a trailer before the film and the feature presentation in the Standard definition 1.33 window box blurry image quality that it was initially released in. Note: this is the R-Rated feature, not the UNRATED/UNCUT that the Blu-Ray presents. Which keeps with the release of the VHS.
Photo Gallery (106) – This gallery features 21 different production photos, home video art, poster art, and more. The gallery runs automatically with the film’s score playing in the background. One can pause a photo/art but cannot navigate.
Rounding out the special features are trailers for WitchTrap (2:31); The Dark (2:52); House on Sorority Row (3:10); One Dark Night (2:16); Mortuary (2:30); Forbidden Zone (0:46);
The Final Thought
Witchtrap is a cult horror oddity that deserves to be rediscovered, especially for those with a taste for the gore (and specifically the splatter-rific effects of the 1980s). Recommended!!!