Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Film Review: LITTLE WITCHES (1996, Jane Simpson)

Stars: 1 of 5.
Running Time: 90 minutes.
Notable Cast or Crew: Mimi Rose, Jennifer Rubin (HELLRAISER, SCREAMERS), Sheeri Rappaport, Clea Duvall (THE FACULTY, GIRL INTERRUPTED), Jack Nance (ERASERHEAD, BARFLY), and Zelda Rubinstein (POLTERGIEST, TEEN WITCH).
Tag-line: "Forgive Me Father, For I Am Sin!"
Best one-liner: A girl exits the confessional: "What did she do?" –"What didn't she do!"

Even at 3:00 AM, under the shameful cover of darkness and sleep deprivation, LITTLE WITCHES was not a good idea. It's by Apix Entertainment, that bastion of low-budg skin flickery that brought us SCORNED and SCORNED 2, and let me tell you, these guys make Full Moon look like Janus Films.

A-pix? Like A-pics? Like "the first, superior film at a double feature?"

A hideously misguided, quasi-softcore rip-off of THE CRAFT, it's written by men but directed by a woman (Jane Simpson, sort of a latter-day Doris Wishman?). I often ill-advisedly brave these bottom of the barrel VHS classicks, but rarely do they result in such palpable discomfiture and near constant thumbings of the fast forward button. Why did I see this movie? Well, I saw David Lynch crony and lovable madman Jack Nance listed in the cast, I knew it featured eccentric horror legend and character actress extraordinaire Zelda Rubinstein, and, what can I say- I'm a sucker for a tag-line as ludicrous as "Forgive Me Father, For I Am Sin!" But the fact of the matter is that the quality index is skewed, and the film is absolutely lifeless. Even the "Oh my God naked Catholic schoolgirls!" demographic has got to be finding this duller than the most interminable and pandering of homilies. Which raises the point that perhaps it was created by Catholics, for wayward Catholics so that they'd find 'temptation,' as it were, to be more even more banal than the most torpid of masses.

Sure, there's scenes of Jack Nance taking confession and muttering "I want you to spend seven minutes contemplating the immensity of God,"

and that's all fine and good, but then it's followed by some sort of immensely awkward schoolgirl stripping sequence set to Mr. Jones and the Previous' "Who's Gonna Make it Rain?," a extended setpiece that's mechanical, graceless, and strangely corporate, despite the Troma-level budget.

The banality of sin?

Anyway, then Clea Duvall shows up and begins to really act in the midst of a lot of eyebrow-indicating and curious enunciations- apparently working under the assumption that she's appearing in an actual movie.

Zelda Rubinstein briefly materializes, phoning in the sort of mystical routine that had made her so well-known amongst genre enthusiasts. I mean, when Zelda Rubinstein (she who made an exceptionally sincere appearance in TEEN WITCH) is phoning it in, you've got some fundamental problems. (EDIT- pun not intentional.)

Long after I had lost all interest entirely and begun intermittently fast-forwarding, one image gave me pause: Jack Nance in fishing gear, as previously seen on TWIN PEAKS.

They even duplicate the gag where he keeps his bait and fishing materials in the kitchen (á la "There's a ffffffish in the perrrrrcolator.") I stuck around for his death scene (which included the line "Don't blaspheeeeeeeeme!"), but after that there was really no reason to stick around. I am a man of principals, however, so I fast-forwarded to the end, spying a sad-looking rubbery Satan, some naked black sabbath undulations, and an "Oh boy just when you thought it was over, gues what- it ain't!" ending. Whew. I don't know what I expected, but I guess I expected something slightly better than this. One star.

-Sean Gill

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Holy cow this sounds bad. Neat to see some Twin Peaks references coming up w Mr. Nance tho. Now i am going to contemplate the immensity of God. lol