Evil Beyond Evil: See how high this witchy woman flies in David DeCoteau’s “Witchouse”

By on January 25, 2018

In David DeCoteau’s Witchouse, a malevolent witch named Lilith — burned at the stake three hundred years earlier — is summoned during a satanic ritual to return to Witchouse, in the same town of Dunwich, Massachusetts, to have revenge on the descendants of those who were responsible for her death. Watch this low-budget creepfest now on Night Flight Plus!

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This rather H.P. Lovecraft-inspired story — the screenplay, by Matthew Jason Walsh, is based on “an original story” credited to Full Moon‘s Charles Band, although we’ve all certainly seen similarly plots like this one many times before — takes place on May 1, 1998 (“May Day”) in the town of Dunwich, Massachusetts, in 1998.

The first day of May actually is the day that many neo-pagans and Wiccans around the world gather to observe and celebrate the onset of summer. It’s called the Celtic festival of Beltane, although it’s also referred to as May Day.

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Elizabeth (Ashley McKinney) invites a group of her former classmates to grand house for what they think is a private party.

The young college students — including Matt Raftery (Jack), Monica Serene Garnich (Jennifer), Dave Oren Ward (Tony), and Dane Northcutt (Scott) — represent some of the same one-dimensional Breakfast Club-type stereotypes we’ve seen before: here we have a horny slut, a shy virgin, a bad girl, a stoner, a nerd, and a mousy girl.

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We loved that tomboyish bad-girl Janet — played by Brooke Mueller, long before she became Charlie Sheen’s third ex-wife — actually brought her electric guitar (which she refers to as her “axe”) to the party.

From the way they talk about Elizabeth, we can tell they’re not exactly old “friends” of Elizabeth’s, and used to pick on her and tease her, but their past behavior doesn’t seem to stop them from heading over to the house, a great stone manse that looks like it’s been standing since medieval days.

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Elizabeth is described as the weird classmate who liked to pull pranks, and it’s possible this is going to be another one of those, but it turns out that Elizabeth wants to tell them the the story of her long-dead ancestress Lilith (Ariauna Albright in terrifically ghoulish makeup), a powerful but rather indiscreet witch who was burned by puritanical witch-hunters after she tried to sacrifice a child.

Elizabeth is is going to attempt to resurrect Lilith, who was the victim of a witch hunt in the late 1600s, and her classmates — unbeknownst to them until it proves to be too late — are all descendants of the people responsible for burning Lilith at the stake.

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Read more about Witchouse below.

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Witchouse — which is strangely spelled with just one word, not two — begins much the same way that many classic horror films of yore have begun, with specially selected invited guests showing up for a party (or with plans on spending the night) in a creepy old house they’ve been told is haunted.

We’ve all seen this set-up before, going all the way back to William Castle’s 1959 classic House on Haunted Hill and even further back.

We’ve also seen similarly scary supernatural storylines — like Kevin Tenny’s 1988 film Night of the Demons — where the guests participate in a séance or ritual of some kind, in an attempt to communicate with long-dead spirits or demons in order to bring them back to life.

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Sure, Witchouse uses the pentagram that’s normally seen in Wicca rituals, and combines that with some of the chants and ceremonial satanic ephemera straight out of Satanism, but don’t let that put you off (it’s quite likely that Elizabeth wouldn’t know the difference).

The movie’s title itself is an homage the H.P. Lovecraft story “The Dreams in the Witch House,” part of the Cthulhu Mythos cycle, first published in the July 1933 issue of Weird Tales.

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The real-life “Witch House” in nearby Salem, Massachusetts — also known as the Jonathan Corwin House, located at 310 Essex Street — is the only structure still standing with direct ties to the Salem witch trials of 1692.

It should be pointed out that these accused “witches” were actually executed by hanging, drowning or other various modes of torture, and not burned at the stake (which was popular in Europe).

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DeCoteau — who began using pseudonyms early in his career, when he was directing X-rated adult films — has said that when he joined the Director’s Guild of American (DGA), he found he had to use alternate names if the project was not a signatory of the guilt. Jack Reed — like so many others he used — was a name he came up with on the spot, and has no special significance.

DeCoteau has directed over one hundred and thirty movies during his career, including such timeless classics as 1988’s Sorority Girls in the Slimeball Bowl-a-Rama, and The Immortal Test Tube Teens from the Year 2000.

You can read about Shrieker, another film of his we’re streaming on Night Flight Plus, right here.

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One of the best things about Witchouse — filmed entirely in Romania, where Full Moon’s Ted Nicolaou filmed his exploits of the vampire Radu Vladislas for the Subspecies horror film series (1991-1998) — is the great production design by Radu Corviova.

Corviova also production-designed Mandroid (1993), another of the Full Moon features streaming on Night Flight Plus.

The budget for Witchouse — like most of the Full Moon no-budget direct-to-video features — was $250,000.

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Witchouse is dedicated to actor Dave Oren Ward (“Tony”), who was stabbed to death in a road rage-type dispute between occupants of two vehicles who had been involved in an automobile accident in West Hollywood, during this film’s post-production.

Ward was just 27 years old.

Watch Witchouse and other Full Moon horror titles on Night Flight Plus.

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About Bryan Thomas

Bryan Thomas has been a freelancing writer/critic for All Music Guide, assistant editor for the When You Awake blog, and a contributor to Launch, Music Connection, Big Takeover and numerous other publications and entertainment websites, blogs and zines, most of them long gone. He's written more than sixty sets of liner notes. He’s also worked for over twenty years at mostly reissue record labels -- prior to that he worked in bookstores and record stores, going all the way back to the original vinyl daze. He lives in the Miracle Mile neighborhood of Los Angeles, CA.