Dario Argento’s horror film “Suspiria” is an immaculate production, one that almost commands you watch it with unbreaking attention. While many have argued it lacks a narrative and often times feels aimless, Argento vies more for a cinematic experience than something that relies heavily on narrative. “Suspiria” feels like one long fever dream, and Argento paints every scene like its being influenced by pure evil. While Suzy herself is being influenced by witches and witchcraft, the audience itself also seems to be pulled in to the same seat, watching every bit of setting being altered in to this realm.
Based on Mary Stewart’s classic children’s book “The Little Broomstick,” we meet frizzy haired Mary, a young girl sent to live with her great aunt Charlotte by her parents as they prepare to move. Overcome by boredom, she ventures out in to the wilderness and follows a mysterious black cat in to the nearby forest. There she finds an old broomstick embedded in an old tree, as well as a mysterious glowing flower called the “Fly-by-Night.” The influences of Studio Ghibli are all over the place in Hiromasa Yonebayashi’s animated adventure “Mary and the Witch’s Flower.” From “Whisper of the Heart,” “Spirited Away,” and “Kiki’s Delivery Service,” there are so many nods and winks to the aforementioned properties that it becomes kind of a treat to see it all unfold.
It’s ironic, and perhaps not incidental, that Vestron would release the entire movie series for “Wishmaster” and “Warlock.” They’re two weak attempts at movie maniacs in a pretty stale decade for horror, and deep down while they have potential to be menacing and terrifying horror villains, they’re poorly realized, and potentially trail off in to absolute nothingness. “Warlock” is not as bad a slope as “Wishmaster,” as it managed to gain some momentum in the nineties, even sporting a Sega Genesis video game in 1995 which involved platforming, and fighting off zombies and demonic beasts with magic spells. 1989’s “Warlock” is a tonally confused movie that wants sorely to be a horror film, but ends up sliding in to dark fantasy territory by the time it draws to a close.
This follow up to the acclaimed Paul Naschy Collection from earlier in the year, comes with a five Blu-Ray collection, and a twenty four page booklet with an essay on each film included. Folks seeking to further explore Paul Naschy will find a great delight in this follow up box set, as it has almost everything you’d want to continue your education in the Spanish horror star.
Paul Naschy has always been something of a large figure among horror fans and cult cinema enthusiasts everywhere, and Shout Factory is up to the task in reward their devotion with a collection that will peak interests. Still making an argument for why it’s one of the best horror movie distributors out there, Scream Factory unleashes a five disc collection that compiles some of Naschy’s most notable films, complete and uncut. There’s even an optional English dub for the films, or their truer Spanish language tracks with the subtitles.
The adaptation of John Updike’s “Witches of Eastwick” is an engaging albeit soapy supernatural thriller that uses the idea of witches and Satan as a seductive male coming to something of a sexual war with a trio of witches with immense power. Over the course of “The Witches of Eastwick” he presents an enticing personality that’s despicable but manages to allure the trio of powerful women. The trio submits every essence of inner and outer power to him the more they find themselves falling for him, and obsessing over his sexual charisma. The way I tended to interpret “The Witches of Eastwick” is as a supernatural battle of wills between the sexes, and director George Miller manifests it through a brilliant cast.
After the Satanic Panic of the seventies and eighties, witches became a shockingly more popular aspect of pop culture and were more generally accepted. It’s almost inexplicable how and why witches suddenly became so prevalent in pop culture, but the nineties were all about the mythical figure and all kinds of TV shows tackled the trend in one way or another. Along with shows capitalizing on the trend, there were also a myriad shows and movies that pretty much centered on the witches trend. Before America paralyzed itself with ideas that witchcraft and paganism were ideas meant to destroy Christianity, the ideas of witches were always more family friendly or sought to appeal to the horror fan base.
At best I’d say that “A Witches’ Ball” is a serviceable movie. It’s exactly the kind of movie you’d find at Walmart one day that you’d probably buy for your daughter in hopes of distracting her with a fantasy while you’re preparing for dinner or something. It’s mediocre and hits about all the right beats for a movie heavily aimed toward small girls. Director Justin G. Dyck is a man whose entire filmography revolves around filming cheaply made, holiday oriented, family films and “A Witches’ Ball” s right up his alley.