Monday, 5 March 2012



Every so often it's nice to go back and revisit a film you've pretty much forgotten. Sometimes they're better than you remember: maybe you weren't really in the mood that day. And sometimes they're worse: you might have a nostalgic attachment to them but here and now the magic has gone. In this instance I do remember rather enjoying it, but that was twenty four years ago, when it was shown at about four o'clock in the morning at the first Shock Around The Clock at the beloved Scala Cinema: it was the eighth film on the bill after A Nightmare On Elm Street 3, Street Trash and an early cut of Hellraiser. Under those circumstances my initial judgement might have been a little on the wonky side. In addition, I was not as familiar with horror B-movies as I am now: admittedly I'm still a long long way from expert status but in 1987 I was barely entry level novice. I had little ability to tell good from bad and this cheapo ouija board nonsense was rather fun - so I thought.

Even seeing Witchboard again on rental VHS a couple of years later, it seemed okay but having left it to mature for nearly a quarter of a century has frankly done it no favours: the big hair, tight trousers, pastel decor and 80s rock soundtrack have dated it badly. A young wife-to-be (Tawny Kitaen) becomes addicted to using a ouija board to communicate with what appears to be an initially kindly spirit of a 10-year-old boy named David. But the spirit turns malevolent and violent - her fiance's workmate is killed in a mysterious accident on a building site, and when her ex brings a wacky medium in to exorcise the spirit things only get worse....

At least they pronounce ouija as wee-ja rather than wee-gee. But there's little to commend Witchboard these days: the dialogue is awful and clunky and the serious character moments are almost funny, though it's neat how they turn the snarky ex-boyfriend into secondary hero material when you'd expect such a bog-standard horror movie to leave him as demon fodder. The best bits feature Kathleen Wilhoite's comedy spiritualist role, but the rest of it is pretty bland stuff and doesn't even deliver on the gore; it was only a 15 certificate back in the Ferman years, and that was when you'd probably get a 15 for saying "bum". One of those films that's less interesting than working out why it seemed so much better all those years ago. Nostalgia for the horrendous mid-80s fashions aside, there's not much.


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