Superstition (1982) aka The Witch
A witch executed in 1692 returns to the present day in order to wreak havoc on the town that persecuted her……
The film enjoys a bit of a cult reputation which I must confess is likely down to its lack of availability – until recently this movie was bloody hard to get hold of in the UK. In addition, it was one of the few films which although straight-to-video, generated enough interest to warrant a cinematic release in 1985.
Broadly speaking, ‘Superstition’ (1982) is an odd horror movie which catapults itself to the viewer with a mighty impressive number of death sequences in the first 20 mins or so . An elderly priest gets a rip-saw through his chest; a teenager’s head is blown up in a microwave and another kid is split in two by a sliding window. Later on things get even gorier……..
The best scenes of the movie are the flashback sequences to the 1692 witch-trial and its consequences (although the priest from back then does seem to resemble Billy Connolly). The imagery in these scenes is quite strong and I thought that these scenes were pulled-off very well, given how difficult it can be to come across with a genuine period-look in a movie. That said, the scene in which our lovely witch is drowned rips-off the special make-up effects of ‘The Exorcist’ in a way which isn’t very flattering.
The director depends on cheap-shocks for most scares but these are effective – and let’s be honest, there are very few scary films that don’t contain at least a couple of these jump-out-of-the-seat moments – and at times the moody and dark camerawork does manage to create an atmosphere of dread and tension. The use of the ‘first-person’ view of the witch is reminiscent of the slasher genre – and I am not sure it fully works in a ‘haunted-house’ movie. I think that’s one of the film’s problems – it doesn’t seem to know whether it’s a by-the-numbers supernatural ‘Friday the 13th’ or something deeper akin to the ‘Amityville’ series. On the other hand, one of the film’s great successes for me was the avoidance of showing the witch, beyond her fiendishly rotten claws….
A pounding goblin-like score echoes Argento and there are flashes of punchy direction, but this is not really in Argento’s league of panache despite what you may hear from some quarters. It also has to be noted that a lot of this picture is remarkably nihilistic, just wait for the finale!
Nevertheless, an enjoyable horror flick which is moderately scary, if you can forgive the rather woeful cast that is.
hotdog rating: 7/10