A friend of mine asked me to find this movie. His wife is Filipino, and because this was filmed in the Philippines and stars Tom Selleck- who he has a man crush on- he wanted to see it. Let me tell you, James, this is no Jesse Stone movie. It’s pretty bad, but in a good, witch-sploitation way. They get the titillation out of the way in shot one, frame one, as we see a Filipino witch suspended topless over bamboo stakes by her evil coven, who demand she renew her vows with El Diablo. She is whipped by a witch with crazy eyes, who we later learn is named Kitty Duarte, and finally gives in… we see a rogue’s gallery of obvious baddies, including a guy with a witch’s peak doing down to the bridge of his nose, and a skeletal cackling fellow… we’ll see them all again.
We immediately cut to Tom Selleck, resplendent in a perfectly trimmed porn ‘stache, as he goes into a creepy little antique shop run by Mr. Widow’s Peak, who is selling a clueless tourist a witch’s knife. It’s a huge dagger with a serpentine handle, and the tourist is buying it “for luck.” I’m a knife nut and even I don’t have a Lucky Sacrificial Dagger… maybe I should get one? If I go to the Philippines, I’ll look for one. Maybe I’ll be attacked by titwitches. That would be awesome, except for the sacrificing me to the devil part. At the shop, Selleck sees a painting of witches being burned at the stake, where the lead witch is a dead ringer for his wife. Horror movie rule #43: Never buy a painting of a dead person that resembles you or your loved ones. It is haunted, you dumbass.
Even Tom’s hairy chest cannot protect him from what is to come. He looks like he rolled around on a barber shop floor, doesn’t he? (Thanks to Milky for that one.) His wife is played by Barra Grant, a hottie best known for being Miss America Bess Myerson’s daughter, and starring in the Bill Cosby flick MOTHER, JUGS & SPEED before giving up on film. She is immediately freaked out by the painting, and who wouldn’t be? There are two witches, a black dog, and a mustached Spaniard in conquistador gear in the painting, who looks like Selleck, of course. Even though she’s playing the Typical 70’s Housewife, who jumps on chairs when mice attack, and still faints at the sound of a dog fart, it’s pretty creepy for your husband to come home and say “Hey, I bought this painting of a woman being burned alive because SHE LOOKS LIKE YOU!”
|Lies. He never fights Satan.
I mean, if Firecracker came home with a photo of a guy being hanged who looked like me, I’d hide all the damn rope. And her instincts are correct. Not long after the painting comes home, than weird things start happening. A black Rottweiler appears in the yard, and he loves Barra but snarls at Selleck. We see the dog run off, and fade into the grass. Wouldn’t you know it, the dog in the painting has faded away? Hmm, wonder what that means. Soon, one of the women in the background fades, just as their new housekeeper shows up for work. And guess who she looks like? Cue the theremin! Creepy shit be afoot!! Really, I hope the horror movie association gave Dr. Theremin some posthumous award for all he’s done for these films. The soundtrack here is relentless, and it does help, because it’s all rather silly.
Soon Barra falls under her housekeeper’s spell, and investigators are brought in, and die suspicious deaths! Tom gets knocked out, put in his Triumph roadster on the edge of a cliff, with blocks of ice chocking the tires. Will he survive? This is a rare case of a film giving away plot twists with its lobby cards, as you can see below. Wifey gets witchy, and shows off her jugs at the one hour mark as she too is suspended over the bamboo spikes, forced to say the devil’s prayer. It’s all rather predictable and over the top, and can be a lot of fun if you know what you’re getting into. I was surprised that Turner Classic Movies showed it uncut, because the topless scenes aren’t quick shots. This is pure ’70s exploitation. I liked the ending, but wish there were a lot more witchy goings on, and that Tom Selleck battled Satan, like the poster promises.
I love a good ’70s occult flick, and this one delivers. I also love cheesy films from the Philippines, like the Weng Weng James Bond spoofs. So this is a win-win for cheesy horror, perfect for this witchy time of year. If you can track it down, it’s worth seeing, if only to see early Tom Selleck battle a coven of sexy witches.
© 2010 Tommy Salami