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Witchfire (1986)

3.5
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When her psychiatrist is killed in an auto accident, his mentally deranged patient and two of her even crazier companions hide out in a house in a rural area where, years ago, the woman had... See full summary »

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Title: Witchfire (1986)

Witchfire (1986) on IMDb 3.5/10

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Lydia
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Vanessa Blanchard ...
Liz
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Julietta
Francesca De Sapio ...
Hattie
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Hunter's Son
James Mendenhall ...
Jarnigan
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Oscar
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Harold
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Nurse Hemmings
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The Hunter
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When her psychiatrist is killed in an auto accident, his mentally deranged patient and two of her even crazier companions hide out in a house in a rural area where, years ago, the woman had set fire to her parents. Written by frankfob2@yahoo.com

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Not since "Cuckoo's Nest" has insanity been so much fun!

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Decent Ideas In Search Of A Re-Write
28 February 2010 | by (New York, USA) – See all my reviews

Kind of a mish-mash of ideas here that comes across as something of a vanity project by the always surprising Shelly Winters, who not only steals the film, she produced it. She plays the most forceful personality in a trio of women who have bonded while spending time in a mental ward. When their case psychiatrist dies the three hatch a scheme to bust loose, return to Winters' abandoned & condemned former home in the country, and resurrect their good doctor through witchcraft, which Winters developed a knack for between setting fires as a youth. Or something like that.

See, the film has so many "Or something like that" moments that its hard to keep track of. The film is competently made with some great photography and a winner of a location in the dilapidated old country house that serves as the main setting. Writer James Orr just had so many ideas that he couldn't quite decide which ones to leave out when formulating his screenplay. The lengthy subplot about the hunter and his son out on a bonding trip of their own with the specter of the father's divorce lending tension goes nowhere, other than to provide a male surrogate for their doctor when the hunter stumbles upon the ladies quite by accident.

See, that's because he was looking for his son, who went running off after getting backhanded for voicing disapproval over his father's current sexual affair with another woman other than mom. All moving stuff, but it doesn't contribute much to the story. The guy could have been out hunting without his son and the film would have been over ten minutes earlier. He's later forced to have sex with the pretty one of the women who thoughtfully wore a sexy bra to wander around in when the plot required some sensuality. Which was good, by the way, and the scene plays out interestingly for a change. Quite provocative without being graphic, the film refuses to cater to the sleaze factor while still having some decent steam for a few minutes.

There are some other interestingly played out scenes in the film but are kind of lost in a whirlwind of batty characterizations, offbeat supporting characters, and displays of acting histrionics by Ms. Winters, all of which fortunately work. She's over the top and quite convincing as a shotgun toting maniac & appears to have been enjoying herself immensely. Her performance is the glue which keeps the film's busy edges together, though I'd say about 15 minutes could have been jettisoned for a tighter form.

The film's tone is also a bit unfocused. At times its a thoughtful drama about mental illness, then its a story about endearing lost souls in search of themselves, then it becomes a family drama about the pain of divorce on children, then a bizarre hostage drama, a bit of humans hunting humans in the woods (always a favorite!), before returning to a theme of supernatural manifestations that are thoughtfully left unexplained. Any two, maybe three of which would have made a fine little movie. A good re-write could have tightened it up, and as-is it's still an interesting low budget quasi-horror film that will probably appeal to female viewers more than the guys, but hey! I liked it.

5/10; A twisted Chick Flick, perhaps? Nothing wrong with that at all.


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