Director: Kevin Tenney
Starring: Linnea Quigley, James Quinn, Kathleen Bailey, Judy Tatum, Hal Havins & Rob Zapple
Released by: Vinegar Syndrome
Reviewed by Mike Kenny
Bearing its alternate The Presence title card, Witchtrap, aggressively marketed as not a sequel to 1987’s Witchboard, scares up the screen as Director Kevin Tenney’s most overlooked spooktacular showcase from the wild and waning late 80s. Afflicted with a reputation for being haunted and further confirmed following an unexplainable death on its grounds, the Lauder House, failing to sell to potential buyers attempts to reinvent itself as a bed and breakfast. Hired by the property’s inheritor (Tenney in a brief role), a team of paranormal experts, aided by a trio of security operatives, use their tools and know-how to cleanse the home of its sinister evil but find themselves meeting fatal demises the longer they stay. Boasting charmingly clunky acting and genuinely funny dialogue, Witchtrap delivers a black mass of gory special effects mayhem including, automobile impalements, exploding noggins, a bullet (sans gunfire) through the skull and the always dependable axe to the head. In addition, scream queen Linnea Quigley reteams with her Night of the Demons helmer for a minor but, wildly memorable role that finds her baring her full assets and landing the film’s highlight death scene with a shower head driven through her neck. Another low-budget marvel in Tenney’s rolodex of features overrun with possessed partygoers and eerie Ouija boards, Witchtrap keeps the fun rolling well into its final act where smart-assed lone survivor Tony Vincente (James Quinn, Witchboard) goes head to head with the black magic-worshipping entity of Avery Lauder (J.P. Luebsen, also of Witchboard fame) in a ghost busting brawl for the ghoul’s heart.
Newly scanned and restored in 2K from the 35mm interpositive, Vinegar Syndrome presents Witchtrap fully uncut with a 1080p transfer, sporting a 1.85:1 aspect ratio. Cleansed to perfection while maintaining its filmic integrity, skin tones are highly detailed and warmly accurate while, colors found in the bedrooms of the Lauder House and its surrounding greenery burst with vibrancy. In addition, the film’s gorier moments are further enhanced by the image’s crispness revealing all the technical team’s efforts. Lastly, black levels are deeply inky and universally sound, chalking up another flawless restoration for the consistent indie label. Joined by a strong DTS-HD Master Audio 1.0 mix, the film’s dubbed dialogue is handled effectively while its overall usage is occasionally jarring in motion. Furthermore, the eerie atmospherics and musical underscores are appropriately balanced for a less forceful but nonetheless efficiently pleasing listening experience.
Packed to the brim with content, special features include, a chatty Audio Commentary with Writer/Director Kevin Tenney, Producer Dan Duncan, Cinematographer Tom Jewett & Actor Hal Havins, several newly recorded interview featurettes including, Making Witchtrap with Kevin Tenney (23:36) who discusses his film school days before exiting once landing the opportunity to helm Witchboard and his other successive features and the hardships of making smaller budgeted films, Acting Witchtrap with Linnea Quigley (13:40) who recounts her chance encounter falling into acting and her creative relationship with Tenney, Shooting Witchtrap: An Interview with Tom Jewett (15:90) plus, Special Effects with Tassilo Baur (17:11). Additionally, Audio Interviews with Special Makeup Artist Judy Yonemoto (8:18) and Music Composer Dennis Michael Tenney (13:13) are provided along with the Witchtrap Video Trailer (2:55), Book of Joe Short Film directed by Kevin Tenney (23:23) and an Alternate Ending for Book of Joe (3:44). Lastly, a Production/Promotional Still Gallery (12 in total), DVD Edition of the release and Reversible Cover Art featuring the original and favored VHS poster close out the robust spread of supplements. A supernaturally splendid hodgepodge from the last breathes of the 1980s featuring a haunted house and buckets of blood, Witchtrap sits proudly next to Tenney’s other cult favorites from the era while earnestly deserving more praise than time has provided for its tightly budgeted and highly entertaining execution in satanic shrieks. Treating viewers to the missing link in Tenney’s early trifecta of terror, Vinegar Syndrome outdoes themselves with the film’s definitive release. Perfect in quality and presentation in all its uncut glory, the included bonus features are a staggering sight to behold and a pleasure to be possessed by.