In the Indian culture black magic is a common practice. Although black magic holds a plethora of meanings, one of the meanings pertains to the art of witch craft.
When I was younger, I remember going to these ceremonies where witch doctors claimed to heal those that were suffering from the supernatural. It was terrifying to see these men and women take the form of “gods” and try to cure the “sick”. In my experience, I met a girl who traveled all the way from Southern California to my hometown in Nor Cal in her quest to get healed. She was the most terrifying human I had ever seen in my life. Her hair had not been combed for days, she was shaking tremendously, and she kept blabbing obscenities at me. Her parents were convinced that she was a victim of someone who did black magic on her and they took her to a local witchdoctor.
The witchdoctor claimed that he could cure her. He took on forms of gods, cracking his bones as he went into his un-human like form. He dug holes in their backyard where he claimed to have found the remains of human bones. He made her participate in bizarre rituals and made her chant words I couldn’t even understand.
Sadly, in the end…the girl took her own life. Some might call this a disaster from modern day exorcism, but honestly I only seen that in the movies. What I saw was real and raw and to this day I still can’t get it out of my mind.
Because of this one incident, I became more and more interested in this dark part of the world. Witchcraft and black magic stories are not too mainstream in the film industry. Well not the ones that I have come across. So when I had the opportunity to watch House of the Witch Doctor, I was actually looking forward to it. I had not heard of this movie until now and I was interested to see what it was all about.
According to the official IMDB site, the summary of the movie is as follows:
“Evil wreaks pure havoc and bloody murder upon Leslie Van Hooten, a beautiful young girl, and her unsuspecting fellow grad students as they make their way to her family’s extravagant and yet isolated estate. Peter (Bill Moseley- Texas Chainsaw Massacre 3D, House of 1000 Corpses) and Irene Van Hooten (Leslie Easterbrook- The Devil’s Rejects, Police Academy), the young girl’s mother and father, leave the group alone for the weekend, so that she may mourn the anniversary of her boyfriend’s shocking murder. But the peaceful weekend soon turns to hell when they find themselves being savagely terrorized by Cliff Rifton (Allan Kayser- Night of the Creeps, TV’s Mama’s Family), a crazed and recently released career criminal, and Buzz Schenk, his drug addict side kick whom are hell bent on raging a torturous killing spree. But as the horrifying acts begin to unfold, the killers soon realize all is not as it seems in this house. And when some strange people from the neighborhood show up, Rose (Dyanne Thorne- Ilsa She Wolf of the SS) and Emmett (Howard Maurer- Ilsa Harem Keeper of the Oil Sheiks), the tables are turned. Now everyone is trapped inside and as the unheard screams and the body count begins to rise, it seems that death is now the only real escape from the “House of the Witch Doctor”.
The movie is written and directed by Devon Mikolas who is also known for such movies as Salvation by Blood , Mulberry Street , and And Then They Were Dead . The actors and actresses may be names you recognize in the movie and television world.
The movie starts with a young man running through a forest. He is visibly shaken and scared as someone, or something, is following him. His demise comes to an end when a couple of creepily clad masked men savagely murder him. Now this scene, although we may not realize it, is very important. The ending of the story will reveal the nature and understanding behind his death.
Leslie Hooten is one sad girl. She just lost her boyfriend in a vicious murder in the forest and to help her mourn the death, her parents go away for the weekend while Leslie and her college friends shack up in Leslie’s childhood mansion. Before they leave, Mr. Hooten, who is doctor, has only one request, “Do not go in the basement.” Obviously this sets up the plot for things to come.
At the same time, Cliff Rifton has just been released from jail and upon his release, he picks up his hillbilly best friend and they go on a raping and murdering spree. You know, a typical weekend for these two. The two groups eventually cross paths and the experience leaves an sour taste in the convict’s and the hillbillies’ mouth. While cruising around the neighborhood to chill and kill, they spot Leslie’s car and are giddy with happiness because now is their chance to terrorize the group. From then on, it gets crazy.
The first hour I would say is a tad bit slow. While I didn’t absolutely loath it, a part of me continued to want to watch it because I wanted to know what justified the death in the beginning. There had to be a good reason right? What made House of the Witchdoctor work was the premise of what happens in that house when the tables are turned on the bad guys. The whole reason why nobody could go down in that basement, and why was Leslie’s boyfriend murdered by masked men. I must say that I was quite impressed with the performance of Cliff Rifton, Dyanne Thorne, and Howard Maurer. They truly embodied their characters and the creep factor of the neighbors were awesome.
The fact that this film had literally no action that pertained to the “witch doctor” aspect in the beginning was a bit disappointing to me. I felt like the film could have been a bit darker in tone to really tie in the ending. But the ending was great and I was pleasantly surprised, I just felt like the whole cult action of it all could have been more gussied up.
All in all, although there were some great performances, the rest of the characters were lacking in emotion and I could not shake the feeling that I didn’t like Leslie for a plethora of reasons. I just couldn’t identify with the protagonist and her situation, which is a big thing for me. I have to be emotionally attached to a character so I can truly feel what they are going through and that to me makes a movie even more gratifying.
What makes this a horror film to me is that things like this actually happen. I know this from experience.
After all, I have always said that the “living” scares the shit out of me a lot more than the dead do.
House of the Witchdoctor will be released on DVD and VOD on 09/16/14.
JUST CLICK HERE
House of the witchdoctor 2013 –
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