I feel like I may have inadvertently been pulled into a coven after watching these four unusual witch films loaded with flashing subliminal occult imagery. I preferred two of them, but they all had something interesting going on, including some serious gay stuff in one of them!
CHERRY TREE (2019)
This simple film doesn’t dawdle. It’s witchy goodness from start to finish, and probably the most satisfying witch movie I’ve seen since Witching & Bitching.
A young woman being raised by her dying father agrees to let her witch soccer coach perform a ritual on him to stop his death.
The actress playing the teacher is deliciously wicked, and the rituals to bring back the dead are nasty—spill blood into a bowl of cherries, then these great big nasty centipedes burrow into the body to work magic that saves the dying soul.
There is definitely a lot of cherry and centipede action, but the horror amplifies into hellish insanity eventually when the main girl discovers exactly what it is her coach and the coven really want from her.
The final act is a blast.
Plus, totally inconsistent with the tone of the rest of the film, the final frame is fantastically cheesy midnight movie nonsense that leaves me hoping for an equally cheesy sequel. As a bonus, the final scene takes place on Halloween! And no, that’s not Amber Benson of Buffy fame in the image below.
WITCH HUNTERS (2016)
Despite this indie being low budget with poor acting, I was hoping something interesting would come of it…if only it had ironed out the details of the plot. Of a plot. Any plot. It’s quite the mess.
What held so much promise for me was that it seemed like it was going to focus solely on the conflict between a gay priest and a gay sheriff in a small town.
The priest has come to terms with his sexuality while losing his faith, but the sheriff is a vile self-hater. He has sex with men and the kills them on a regular basis.
It’s such a compelling premise that gets lost in a whole lot of other stuff. Still, I’m going to file this one away on the homo horror page considering both leads are gay and it is a key plot point.
The witch hunter that comes to town looks like a combo between a cowboy and a biker, is a caricature, and has his goth sister along for the ride.
They’re hunting witches, they find some, there’s lots of sex with the witches, who are out to get revenge on Christians…damn, this all sounds so much like I should love it.
Unfortunately, the film doesn’t seem to ever tie anything together in any logical way, or bring anything to a satisfying conclusion.
666: SALEM CALLING (2008)
This film originally incorporated Poe’s “The Raven” into its title, and from the very start you’ll know why—lines from the poem are repeated incessantly in voice-overs throughout the movie.
This could have been a pretty basic witch/slasher movie. Although it takes place a week before Halloween, the holiday plays no part in the story. Instead it’s about a group of ghost hunter friends celebrating a birthday by going into the woods to research the disappearance of a horror writer and his family a few years before for their website.
A campfire story soon reveals that the land was once the location of witch burning.
Oh if only the story had stuck with that basic premise. It begins with a séance and some 1970s style horror music and trippy horror visuals—mood setting indie goodness that I welcome. The group hangs out in the dark, and one girl starts to act all witchy. It feels like it really has a direct trajectory…
And then we are bombarded by flashbacks of a separate story that takes place in the early 1900s.
This interference makes everything a confusing mess, with only a glimmer of gory slashing fun suddenly near the end of the film. Not that it clarifies anything. Bummer.
MARK OF THE WITCH (2014)
A bit artsy with signs of budget restraints (CGI blood and fire), Mark of the Witch takes a little while to get to its point, but there’s plenty of mysterious and even over-the-top witch action once it gets there. The only thing missing was some broom flying.
At a young woman’s eighteenth birthday party, her creepy aunt does the unthinkable. Immediately after, the young woman begins having nightmarish, satanic dreams and visions. She’s also stalked by a freaky witch woman.
The young woman’s life begins to unravel and she soon finds out why—there is an evil version of her out and about and wreaking havoc. Amazingly, the main girl’s performance vastly improves when she becomes an evil bitch from hell.
The battle between good and evil is almost campy, and it is definitely my favorite part of the film.
All the witchy woman in the cast totally deliver with their devilish performances.
Not to mention, one of the characters in the movie plays the Atari 2600 classic Breakout…plus we get a brief glimpse of his butt.