Tuesday, June 30, 2015

GHOSTHOUSE and Witchery (Scream Factory Blu-ray) - Mi Casa es La Casa 3 and 4

You look at Ghosthouse and Witchery and find two very different movies with supernatural elements directed by two different filmmakers. You ask why they are on a double feature together and the answer appears to be only one, they are Italian Horror movies from the 80’s. The fact that the two movies appear to be completely otherwise unrelated may irk you at first, and the fact that Ghosthouse is a mesmerizing terror tale while Witchery is a goof-off picture featuring the Hoff may make you feel just a little strange about trying to double feature them in the same evening. You’d almost be better off pairing Ghosthouse with Lommel’s Boogeyman and saving the double feature of Witchery for Grotesque or maybe Hell Night to preserve the Linda Blair-isms. I assure you folks that there is a connection far greater than the sum of these two pictures that demands them be released together.

Do you watch Italian Horror? If you do than you know that the Italians do two things really well, adapt popular, successful Hollywood stories to their own gratuitous devices AND create sequels. Sequels in name only of course. For Italian Horror Week at DOCTERROR.COM we’ve focused on this issue to the point where you can try to follow certain series in chronological order only to find yourself as lost as if you read the entire RL Stein Fear Street series from start to finishing expecting a running thread. In the case of Ghosthouse and Witchery we find this to be the case and the perfect reason to have a double feature Blu-ray pair the two (although I would still recommend the aforementioned double feature suggestions). Ghosthouse and Witchery as part of the infamous La Casa series. The only series more convoluted than the La Casa series is the Demons series (which is a tale for another day).

Things you’ll want to know about this series:

-  It was “created” to capitalize off the success of Evil Dead 1 and 2, released as La Casa and La Casa 2 respectively in Italy.

- The third installment directed by the great Umberto Lenzi (famous for his cannibal films and splatter flicks) is Ghosthouse which took the naming convention of the Evil Dead pictures in Italy to ride their coattails.

- The fourth installment is also produced by the great Italian smut peddler Joe D’Amato (that is a term of endearment) who further tried to carry the success of the Evil Dead franchise to his own Hasselhoffian effort. This one is directed by Fabrizio Laurenti who was also responsible for The Crawlers (also released by Scream Factory on an All Night Horror Marathon four pack). The Crawlers of course has its own sequel misdirected history in its alternate title Troll 3 (no real relation)

- La Casa 5 is Beyond Darkness, produced by D’Amato, directed by Claudio Fragasso… you know… the guy who directed Troll 2.

- La Casa 6 is House 2… figure that out!

- La Casa 7 is… you guessed it… Horror Show aka House III aka a totally unrelated movie to the American movie House 2 much less the La Casa series or Evil Dead.

It’s almost imperative that these movies are released together. Now if you Scream Factory would release some kind of definitive release of Evil Dead and Evil Dead 2 (they already have plans for Army of Darkness which is unrelated to La Casa series) and then release House 2 on Blu-ray having already released Horror Show on Blu-ray they’d have the whole damn set! You’d almost want a box set release for the La Casa series. You probably should fan-create one if they get them all  under the Scream Factory banner.

Now that you have context for this double feature, let’s move on to the individual titles.

Ghosthouse is a fan favorite for Italian Horror fans. I know people who collect versions of this (and the other La Casa series actually), but this one stands out as their favorite. It’s got supernatural elements that are frightening and mystical as well as a ghostly girlie with a creepy clown. As we all know, clowns scare the pants off of everyone especially those who remember a similar clown toy from Poltergeist. As I said before, the strangely ghostly presence in Ghosthouse almost has a feeling of a more lighthearted Boogeyman. It isn’t exactly filth or raunchy but stylistically it’s all Italian embodying some of the great aspects of successful horror pictures with original twists that make it feel like a new movie. We’re not talking about Cruel Jaws where the movie intercuts scenes from the original Jaws, just aspects of the movie that may feel familiar to Horror fans of the 80’s. Add in a strange use of sound effects and an Italian Horror score that is worth a listen.

Note: the house in Ghosthouse… the same house located in Connecticut used in Fulci’s House by the Cemetery. It’s great to see how the old place has stood the test of two horror pictures.

Witchery on the other hand isn’t exactly a favorite of mine. Yes, I can appreciate the fun and camp that comes along with putting David Hasselhoff in a horror picture especially with Linda Blair in all her late 80’s horror glory, but it stylistically feels plain Jane. It doesn’t carry that gusto that you’d come to expect from 80’s Italian Horror, and it’s probably the director’s fault. Fabrizio Laurenti doesn’t have much in the way of theatrical releases to his name. He did TV in Italy and his other “big hit” was The Crawlers which has a certain fan base but ultimately has a better cover than it does a storyline. There are moments of unintentional comedy that will carry the “bad movie” crew through this one easily, but for those of you seeking a true horror movie or even a good representation of an Italian Horror movie, best to stick with Ghosthouse first and drink beers during Witchery.

This double feature is available now from Scream Factory. It’s essential for the Italian Horror collector with good looking transfer for both movies (better than maybe Witchery deserved). Ghosthouse looks gorgeous.

From Scream Factory:

Clown dolls. Witches. Hasselhoff. What more could you want?

Prepare yourself for one of the most bizarre double bills imaginable with Ghosthouse and Witchery! Released in Italy as part of the infamous La Casa series, these two highly unusual horror films are essential viewing for fans of Cult Cinema.


Your tour of terror begins with Ghosthouse, in which a group of visitors to a seemingly-deserted home find themselves tormented by demonic spirits – including one particularly freaky little girl and her creepy clown companion. Soon, our hapless heroes find themselves powerless to conquer the evil of the Ghosthouse – where death holds the mortgage and if you move in… there'll be Hell to pay!


Then, a new address brings new frights as the immortal David Hasselhoff and The Exorcist's Linda Blair turn up the terror in Witchery. When a terrible storm leaves a motley assortment of people stranded on an island resort, they soon find they have more to worry about than not packing rain gear! A horrible witch unleashes her wrath on the unwanted visitors – and no one is safe from her unquenchable thirst for death!

Ghosthouse. Witchery. A duplex of doom, brought to you on Blu-ray from Shout! Factory.

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