Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Witchcraft X: Mistress of the Craft – review

Director: Elisar Cabrera

Release Date: 1998

Contains spoilers

Hmm… I reviewed the earlier film in this series, Witchcraft 7: Judgement Hour, that also featured vampires and it stank. Thus I didn’t hold much hope for this entry into the long running series. Good news, it is better than the earlier film but the bad news is, not by much.

We begin by meeting Celeste (Wendy Cooper). She is the Mistress of the Craft of the title. She serves the Lord Shaguthma in his battle against darkness and holds the eye of destiny, a connection to her home (wherever that might be) and the source of her power. She also works for Interpol’s Bureau 17 – the occult division, as you do.

Off in some nightclub a couple of guys who can’t act approach some women. The women are vampires, there with head vampire Raven (Eileen Daly). The vampires reciprocate the approach, which means that these guys are toast and we don’t have to watch their poor performance for much longer. We see one of the guys killed and drank in a scene that was totally an excuse to show some boobs. Fair enough.

Bureau 17 has captured an occult bad guy named Hyde (Kerry Knowlton). They are awaiting the arrival in London of Det. Lucy Lutz (Stephanie Beaton, who played the character 3 times in the series but did not play her in the earlier linked instalment). Hyde has hypnotic eyes, don’t you know, and he is being interrogated (ish) whilst Agent Chris Dixon (Sean Harry) picks up Lutz at the airport.

Raven and her vampire cohorts break into Bureau 17 in order that they might free Hyde. They kill a couple of Bureau agents on the way in and drain one of them dry – which is how someone turns – in order that they might leave a surprise for the Agents. They are a sarcastic bunch, or perhaps just bad actors feigning shock – who knows, frankly who really cares. Anyway they get to Hyde.

Just then Chris and Lucy get there and he manages to stake one of them with a wooden doorstop – I think the first (and only) time I have seen one used in such a way. However, they escape and by the time Celeste gets there the Agent who has been drained rises and she has to stake him with her stiletto heel. Such is life. The reason for freeing Hyde? Raven worships a demon called Morshenka and has a book containing the Walpurgis Ritual, which can free the demon, but can’t read the language. Hyde can.

Okay, so all the protagonists go to their various homes and it is time for some obligatory sex scenes. What we get is Raven and Hyde going at it. Inter-cut are Celeste and her boyfriend Harry (Glenn McReady) getting down and dirty. We also get scene of Lucy in the bath. I could suggest that it was an interesting montage, contrasting the lust of the evil characters against the love of the good characters. I could further suggest that this was juxtaposed against Lucy, alone, showing the loneliness of the visitor to the country. However that would be just plain silly. It was an excuse to show as much flesh as possible, and coincidentally ensured that there was a brunette, a blonde and a redhead.

Lucy isn’t alone anyway, she is at Chris’ house and later they’ll get it on. For now she teases him by wandering into the room in just a towel and asking to use his phone – as you do when staying at a complete stranger’s home. There is no subtly to these scenes and, when dialogue enters into it, it is badly written, badly acted and pointless. The scene with Celeste turning down Harry’s marriage proposal seemed ridiculous as it really added nothing to her character, nor led to any real development of said character.

Anyhoo… bad ritual… human sacrifices... awful fight scenes (which is a mighty understatement)… double-crossing bad guys… obvious use of the eye of destiny, as it was mentioned in scene 1… big floaty eyes to represent the demon… Celeste wearing an awful superhero type costume… It all adds up to something that, to be honest I would have switched off it wasn’t for the review.

Vampire-wise we know they can be staked. Ripping the heart out causes it to set on fire. Celeste can summon a big glowing cross that will hold them at bay. There is use of a standard cross at one point as well (with a glow in the dark Jesus figure, I should know – my parents had the same crucifixes around the house as I grew up... Probably answers a lot!)

As I say, this was marginally better than the first film, but not by much. I happen to like Eileen Daly, I think she hams up films in a wondrously B movie way but, in this, even she faltered. It was probably down to the fact that the dialogue was so poorly written. All in all, one to avoid, unless you are a masochist when it comes to vampire movies… a bit like me. 0.5 out of 10.

The imdb page is here.

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