House of the Witchdoctor – USA, 2013

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House of the Witchdoctor – aka House of the Witch Doctor  is a 2013 American horror feature film written and directed by Devon Mikolas.

The movie  stars newer names such as Callie Stephens (When the Lights Go Out) and Summer Bills, as well as actors who have appeared in many horror and genre films over the past few decades, in particular Dyanne Thorne (the Ilsa series, Blood Sabbath) and Bill Moseley (Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2House of 1000 CorpsesThe Devil’s Rejects).

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A group of typical American teens offer consolation to their bereaved friend at her parent’s plush residence, only to find themselves stalked… and even worse.

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Serial nutcase Cliff Rifton (Allan Kayser, Night of the Creeps) has been released from prison and immediately hooks up with his old sidekick, Buzz Schenk (David Willis), both of them eager to pick up where they left off and terrorise as many people as possibly whilst taking as many drugs as possible.

After killing his mother, raping a drug dealer’s girlfriend and then torturing and murdering him, new opportunities are sought and their new target is white, middle-class Leslie Van Hooten (Stephens) and her four friends, who manage to evade them on their way to her parent’s well-appointed pad on the outskirts of town, primarily for them all to help her come to terms with the anniversary of the death of her boyfriend.

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An unfortunate series of Last House on the Left-like coincidences lead the criminals to the Van Hooten residence, a stroke of luck they are unwilling to let pass. With her parents away (Mosely and Leslie Easterbrook from The Devil’s Rejects and many Police Academy films) the teens are terrorised by a distinctly 1970’s-style home invasion; rape, torture and dehumanisation all getting a run-out. Before the plot becomes too predictable, the parents return, accompanied by neighbours, Rose (Thorne) and  Emmett (Howard Maurer, Thorne’s real-life spouse and star of two Ilsa films himself, Tigress of Siberia and Harem Keeper of the Oil Sheiks), as well as assorted locals, all of whom are equipped with a wide array of garden tools and more traditional weapons.

Down in the basement of the house, true identities are revealed and voodoo wrong-doings require sacrifice and rites, volunteers both unwilling and otherwise already assembled. Will the local deities be appeased or will help arrive in time?

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The home invasion angle of approach doesn’t really date and, if played correctly, is always an unnerving experience, the defiling of both body and property an eternally horrific thought. In this respect, the film doesn’t do a bad job, let down only by idiotic, dislikeable teens behaving in the most sickeningly forehead-slapping daft manner imaginable. The diabolical duo of Buzz and Cliff are played with eyeball-spinning glee and the enthusiasm and appalling satisfaction they gain from their crimes are demented and unhinged enough to be attributed by drugs and society – backstories are left to a minimum.

 

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Do people still watch horror films with the promise of nudity in mind? Well, those who do won’t be disappointed, though Dyanne remains mercifully clothed. Her role is minimal, as is that of Moseley, despite the pivotal part he plays in the story. As such we are left with the curse of Rob Zombie – a parade of old faces, used poorly, to disguise flimsy plot under the guise of “I know my stuff, me!”. Though a twist is necessary in the film to prevent stale, though graphic sexually violent thrills, the notion of introducing voodoo and spell casting is so ridiculous that it feels like two half ideas half executed.

Daz Lawrence, HORRORPEDIA

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Buy: Amazon.co.uk

Other reviews:

” … House of the Witchdoctor is too amateurishly made to deal with the themes it presents in the first two acts and this gives the film an overwhelming air of grubbiness and salaciousness. The ending does rescue it somewhat, but it’s a shame the audience has to sit through the first hour or so to get there. If the final act could be stuck on the end of another movie, it might be half decent.” Luke Green, UK Horror Scene

“If it were more clearly a joke, there would have been some fun to be had with House of the Witchdoctor, but unfortunately, it culminates into an offensive, sexist and unforgivingly Screen Shot 2016-08-05 at 16.00.57predictable mess that has no redeeming factors. Not even the Devil’s Rejects can elevate this film from being anything more than a disaster.” Jessy Williams, Scream magazine

“Had the first hour of the film held more allure, we’d be eyeing an independent gem. The first hour however, isn’t enlightening in the least, which is a big hit to a film that wants to be grandiose despite some very noticeable limitations. This one is fair at best, but you’ll need to hang on until the end to pull that from the film.” Horrorfreak News

“The acting could have been better and dialogue isn’t anything to shake a stick at but at the end of the day, the plot is what really saves the movie from itself. Knowing that there is something crazier than a couple of middle aged, drugged up rapists coming at the end is well worth the wait. Anticipation is half of a good horror movie.” Jersey John, Horror Talk

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