Director: Umberto Lenzi
Writer(s): Sheila Goldberg, Umberto Lenzi, Cinthia McGavin
Cast: Lara Wendel, Greg Scott, Mary Sellers, Donald O’Brien Scream Factory
Not Rated | 94 Minutes
Release Date: June 30, 2015
In Italy, The Evil Dead was released as La Casa, and Evil Dead II became La Casa II. These films were followed by three unrelated horror sequels branded with the same name: La Casa 3 (Ghosthouse), La Casa 4 (Witchery), and La Casa 5 (Beyond Darkness).
Directed by Umberto Lenzi (under the alias Humphrey Humbert), 1988’s Ghosthouse is an Italian rip-off of The Amityville Horror and Poltergeist.
A strange little girl (Kristen Fougerousse) stabs a cat to death with scissors – and on her birthday of all days! Her religious father is furious, and so he locks her up in the dark, dank basement with a creepy-ass clown doll. After telling his wife that their daughter may be possessed, they’re both brutally murdered by a supernatural force.
Fast-forward 20 years later, where Paul (Greg Scott) and Martha (Lara Wendel) pick up a weird signal on their ham radio. Screams, Ewok noises, and creepy carnival music haunt the young lovers. Paul uses his state-of-the-art computer to track down the signal to a spooky old house (the same house used in Lucio Fulci’s 1981 film, The House by the Cemetery).
Paul and Martha meet up with a group of unlikely companions – each drawn to the old house under mysterious circumstances. Together they attempt to explore the house and uncover its evil secrets before they too are possessed by the angry spirits in residence.
Ghosthouse isn’t that great of a movie – it doesn’t make much sense, but what it lacks in cohesiveness it makes up for in nightmarish imagery. Lenzi’s haunted house is filled with exploding light bulbs, melting doors, cesspools of boiling white goo, and a skull-faced psycho covered in maggots. Combined with the surreal synth score by Piero Montanari, Lenzi’s visuals make for a fever dream of horrific nonsense that’s perfect for those seeking a cheesy ’80s spookshow.
Director: Fabrizio Laurenti
Writer(s): Harry Spalding, Daniele Stroppa
Cast: David Hasselhoff, Catherine Hickland, Hildegard Knef, Linda Blair Scream Factory
Rated R | 96 Minutes
Release Date: June 30, 2015
Released as Witchery in the United States, Fabrizio Laurenti‘s 1988 Italian-American horror film goes by many other titles including La Casa 4, Ghosthouse II, and Witchcraft (Evil Encounters).
Leslie (Leslie Cummings) and her boyfriend Gary (David Hasselhoff) are visiting a haunted island resort off the coast of Massachusetts. Leslie is writing a book on witchcraft, and the two have traveled to the abandoned hotel to do research and collect evidence. Did I mention that Leslie is a VIRGIN!? It’s a super-important part of the story, guys – there’s even an awkward conversation with a sexually frustrated Hasselhoff that emphasizes just how big of a deal this is.
Also on the island are Jane (Linda Blair) and her younger brother, Tommy (Michael Manchester). They’re accompanied by their rich parents (Annie Ross and Robert Champagne), who are interested in purchasing the abandoned resort hotel. A storm unites the group and prevents them from leaving the island, allowing them plenty of time to swap old wives’ tales about the hotel’s haunted history.
Turns out the hotel is haunted by a German actress-cum-witch (Hildegard Knef), a woman in black who stalks the hotel guests and does witchy things like trapping them in interdimensional portals. Leslie – because she’s a virgin – gets raped by a demon, and the ghost witch plans to possess Jane’s unborn baby so she can come back to life… or something? I don’t know – none of this really makes sense.
If Ghosthouse is an attempt at channeling the chills and thrills of Poltergeist, then Witchery is Night of the Demons on prison-grade PCP. Neither of these movies are all that great, but combined they make a great one-two punch of WTF-ness that’s worth the price of admission. And if you’re itchin’ to complete the La Casa series, you can pick up La Casa 5 (Beyond Darkness) in an upcoming Scream Factory double feature with Metamorphosis!
Scream Factory’s Blu-ray double feature of Ghosthouse and Witchery presents both films in their original 1.66:1 widescreen aspect ratios and in full 1080p HD. Ghosthouse is a little on the soft and fuzzy side while Witchery is more saturated and vibrant. The lossless 2.0 audio tracks provide crisp, clear dialogue and noticeable atmospherics.
As for bonus features, this Scream Factory release is surprisingly lacking. You’ve got a couple theatrical trailers and that’s about it. It’d be nice to see a featurette about the La Casa series or a mini-doc on Italian horror – but maybe that’s asking for too much on a double feature release of this kind.
Scream Factory’s Ghosthouse / Witchery Double Feature Blu-ray is now available at Amazon. Check out some trailers, as well as the bad-ass cover art, below!