PRIME TIME: witches and demons and the occult, oh my

Nothing ever seems to go right when evil is channeled from another place and time, as in these four flicks. Let’s take a look at this lineup of indie films.

BODY KEEPERS (2018)

Body Keepers is clearly an indie from the start, with obvious budget limitations, so don’t expect any visually spectacular horror elements.

The reason this one deserves some recognition is because a gay guy proves to play a vital role in the events that unfold. He also lands this one on the does the gay guy die? page.

The plot is just weird. The group has to work as a team on a school project. They need a wheelbarrow, so they break into a creepy shed where one of the kids tells a story of a dead body being kept on ice in there, along with a legend of a serial killer that harvested children’s souls.

They end up unleashing some sort of evil, there are ghost kiddies, they go to a psychic, they play strip Jenga…yes, it’s all kind of a mess.

The creepiest scene is some footage a detective shows the survivors at the end.

IT’S JUST A GAME (2018)

This one comes from the director of Camp Massacre, and for an indie, it almost hits the mark. However, it strays from its basic, satisfying premise, causing it to lose its potency and change tones, which really cheapens the second half.

A group of mean girls plays a series of pranks on their “friends” involving urban legends in the vein of Bloody Mary.

One of the victims is so affected by the prank that she conjures a witch and a cult of crazies that begin to pick off the girls one by one.

The film at first feels like a nice sleazy, low budget home invasion flick, with a psycho sex couple, a killer in a skull mask, and some lowbrow lesbianism, and I was feeling it (especially the freaky sex guy).

Unfortunately, it totally lost me when it brought in a bunch of downright silly cult characters (including the director) that felt like they were from a totally different movie. As a result, the film just fizzled out for me.

OUIJA CRAFT (2020)

When I saw this one was from Aaron Mirtes, director of Clowntergeist and Curse of the Nun, I had to check it out. I’m a fan of his simple, straightforward horror movies tinted with a touch of 80s cheese.

A trio of girls and a guy are pretty darn talented witches, but before they can take their power to the next level, a spell goes horribly wrong and one of them dies.

Then they hatch a plan to bring their dead friend back. Taking a page right out of the AHS: Coven playbook.

A Ouija board, a graveyard, and a magic potion seem to do the trick, but there’s a catch…the dead girl is now a crazy killer witch! It’s up to her three friends to figure out a magical way too finish her off.

There’s plenty of running through the woods as they play cat and mouse with the witch while wielding their Ouija board, the cast is fun (the girls rock), there are some funny moments (again, the girls rock), and the finger lightning bolt magic action is like something right out of the eighties.

Personally, I could have done without the backstory from colonial days, which involves period piece costumes and even a silly ghost appearance.

HERE COMES HELL (2019)

I’m always up for a horror comedy that goes the Evil Dead route. Here Comes Evil takes a different approach, though, crafting an “old school” full screen black and white film.

It initially feels quite authentic, including costumes, a gothic mansion set, melodramatic music, and the dialogue between characters gathered for a dinner party.

One fresh face in the crowd of friends is quickly singled out, and she admits to being a writer, which launches the group into telling scary stories. Next, they call in a medium to do a séance—who looks right out of Drag Me To Hell.

The film totally delivers on people going all Deadite. It’s what I live for. However, I will say that so many good gore effects and makeup effects go to waste on account of the black and white film.

Considering even the tone changes from classic to quite contemporary once the evil enters the picture, I think it would have been wicked cool if they pulled a Wizard of Oz stunt and switched the film to full color once the evil permeated the house.

Also a little annoying to me is that the film moves from Evil Dead territory into the Army of Darkness zone. Blech. Slapstick silliness ensues at points (like one character shrinking in size), and it even goes for that portal to another dimension feel. Ugh. I hate to even be reminded of how Army of Darkness ruined a franchise for decades before Ash vs. Evil Dead saved it.

About Daniel

I am the author of the horror anthologies CLOSET MONSTERS: ZOMBIED OUT AND TALES OF GOTHROTICA and HORNY DEVILS, and the horror novels COMBUSTION and NO PLACE FOR LITTLE ONES. I am also the founder of BOYS, BEARS & SCARES, a facebook page for gay male horror fans! Check it out and like it at www.facebook.com/BoysBearsandScares.
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