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Home | Film Review: Witchtrap (1989)

Film Review: Witchtrap (1989)


Parapsychologists try to make an inn haunted by an evil witch’s ghost safe for guests.


From Kevin Tenney, the writer and director of Night of the Demons, comes this pile of viscera titled Witchtrap. The usual suspects are present here: Linnea Quigley shows up in a minor role where she disrobes, James W. Quinn is the hero Tony Vincenti, and even Tenney himself shows up for a small role. But Witchtrap doesn’t capture the horror genre as well as Night of the Demons did, despite being made after that film; it’s an awfully bad film all around, with little original ideas to propel it.

The first thing one will notice about Witchtrap is that the acting is as stiff and rigid as Linnea Quigley’s nipples. Judy Tatum could not be any less enthusiastic as Agnes Goldberg, a paranormal expert who assembles a team of investigators to go into Lauder Manor, supposedly haunted by an evil man. Tatum is just awful here; her dry speech bores to tears, and that’s not a good thing when she is one of the main characters. The only bright ray of sunshine in this dull cast is Quinn, and that’s not even because he’s a good actor – he simply gets the best lines as the sarcastic piece of crap Vincenti, a detective who’s been reading too many detective novels. The rest of the cast is almost nonexistent, and they’re only stock characters used for Witchtrap’s devices.

The whole plot of the film doesn’t make much sense. Goldberg’s sent in with her team to rid the house of the evil spirit of Avery Lauder (J.P. Luebsen), a man who messed around too much with evil incantations and who threatens to come back from the dead by completing an immortalization curse. Part of Goldberg’s team are three cops – Vincenti, his partner, and his boss – who are supposed to protect the team from anything deadly. If these are paranormal experts, and if they really are dealing with some sort of devil or demon, it doesn’t really make sense to assume that physical objects like guns would do any damage to the entities. Vincenti’s role in the plot is stretched really thin, and the character even mentions it himself when he discusses his lack of spiritual faith. The reason for his being there is null.

Witchtrap also has a very hokey enemy in Avery Laude. He’s neither intimidating nor characterized at all, and Luebsen was a terrible choice as the warlock. The flowing black cloak look ridiculous, and a scene where Avery approaches the camera in slow motion is one of the most laughable things I’ve seen. It would help if Witchtrap was actually a bit scary, but most of the frightening aspects of the film have nothing to do with the rushed on-screen deaths; instead, it’s more scary to think that some people though Witchtrap was a good enough movie that they needed to release it on video.

The final scenes really drag on, and the whole sense of the film begins to unravel once a caretaker named Elvin (Hal Havins) begins to attack the group of investigators. For one, it doesn’t make sense at all, and the motives are pretty much summed up by the following: “He must have been possessed.” Or he was just upset that he was in such a terrible film, but either way, the logic behind Witchtrap is flawed at every turn. Sometimes Vincenti could care less about ghosts, even after he’s seen some insane paranormal activity he can’t explain; the next minute, he’s proclaiming that he’s going to be as careful as possible because of the ghost. The film just can’t make up its mind about how it wants its characters to behave, especially Vincenti. Add that with the poor acting of the others and you get a film so confused it makes the zombies of Return of the Living Dead look smart.

If you think Witchtrap might be on par with Night of the Demons, be deluded no further. Witchtrap is, like its namesake, a trap that you don’t want to fall into. The B-movie acting and subpar script might seem bewitching, but the film is really as bad as it first seems to be.

Witchtrap (1989)

One comment

  1. Ryne — I enjoy your reviews but you have a glaring flaw in this one. Kevin Tenney did NOT write the original NIGHT OF THE DEMONS. I wrote and produced it and was very involved in the production. I was NOT involved in WITCHTRAP — that one is all Kevin. Make of this what you will.


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