James W. Roberson
I initially chose Superstition to get in the Halloween mood. I wanted something with a witch. I didn’t expect much from it, I’d never really heard much about it, plus haunted house and witch movies tend to have a habit of being on the slow and quiet side, so I thought I could work on a few other things while I watched it. So, I was in for a surprise as I discovered a fast paced story that’s more interested in splashing some blood around than a slow burn.
Superstition’s story is relatively simple. A witch tortured and then drowned in the 1600’s, still manages to snag a victim or two when they are dumb enough to go swimming in the pond where her body lies or when they enter the house that sits out front. Enter the rubes who start renovating the house and stirring up the witch to kill them all. Strangely the cross that’s thrown in the pond and is supposed to keep the witch from escaping, doesn’t work very well. She has no trouble getting to people in the house and it’s remarked that people who go skinny dipping in pond disappear all the time. Yet when the cross is held by a person, the witch has a hard time getting near them. Oh well, this isn’t exactly the kind of movie you go into expecting an airtight plot.
What makes this movie stand out above similar tales is how gleeful and free it is with the gore, from the opening kill with exploding head in a microwave, to a priest getting a saw blade through the chest, and an unfortunate teen staked to the floor through the forehead. The kills are plenty and no one should be considered safe. They wisely keep the witch an unseen presence and when she does appear in the finale she hidden in shadow and fog.
What the movie does lack is any character worth investing yourself in. Everyone is largely written a flat and lifeless manner. The actors seem to make the best of what they are given but it’s nothing that is going to grab your attention. It isn’t until the halfway point of the movie that I even realized that our wienery main character, Rev. Thompson (James Houghton) was even supposed to the be the main character. This does allow you take a certain enjoyment as the witch kicks his scrawny ass up and down the house during the climax. He’s not too bright either, his solution to the destroying the witch is, at one point, to set a pond on fire, even though the body is presumably resting on the bottom.
Slasher fans may get a treat out of this one, since essentially a hybrid of ‘Friday the 13th’ and ‘The Amityville Horror’ with a prog rock soundtrack. To be honest, I’m not sure why this one seems to have escaped discussion of early 80’s horror. I’d recommend it as an unexpected delight and fine choice from some Halloween viewing.