You know all that stuff I said about terrible films having amazing movie posters back when I was talking about R.O.T.O.R.? Forget it, because this movie poster is awesome, and this movie is bad ass.
In 1692, a witch was put to death by a local priest and his rural colonial parish somewhere in rural New England. But the priest was too kind of a man, and instead of purifying her soul through fire, he drowned her in water and used a cross to seal her powers. Unfortunately the cross was only powerful enough to prevent her from using her powers during the day, so at night over the course of the coming years, she burned the church and killed off all those who bore witness to her execution. And now she kills everyone who lives on her land, save for one cursed family line which sates her needs.
It’s a shame that all of this has been forgotten in the modern day setting, because it means people no longer recognize the danger. Instead, the local church owns the land and the house that sits upon it, and the congregation is busy preparing it for the new tenant, a reverend who has been fighting a losing battle with alcoholism and has been shipped to the boonies along with his family to try and get his life together. While church members busy themselves with the maintenance, the local police are trying to investigate a pair of recent murders on the property, which they think the mute son of the “caretaker” has caused.
This movie is dark. I will tell you right now, most of the characters are not good people; they’re cruel, cowardly, lustful, etc. The hero may be a pedophile based on how he looks at the reverend’s teenage daughters. Some of these guys are standoffish, particularly the police detectives investigating the murder. That’s ok. They all die anyway. All of them. The cops, the priests, the children, all of them.
Not well, either. The witch can manifest herself as a seven foot tall creature with reptilian claws, and she can easily beat the shit out of whatever she wants, but she sometimes prefers a little flair: a circular saw blade, a spike hammered through the skull, an exploding mirror, etc. You get the feeling she enjoys getting her revenge, and she enjoys the cruelty with which she enacts it. She uses her silhouette to inspire fear, especially of her long claws. She breaks down doors or strategically places corpses to be found. She kills and she loves it, and the weak humans struggle to defeat her, wrestling with their own failings, each other, and ultimately losing in the end.
I loved this movie. It is an awesome haunted house film. It’s not necessarily as good as The Changeling with George C. Scott (which I totally love), but it’s way better than The Amityville Horror, Burnt Offerings, and so on. This is a movie that is as dark as the Ju-On films and very effective at what it does. Trust me, go track it down if you like good ghost flicks.
Also, this movie has some weird back and forth going on about the release date. I’ve seen it range from 1982 to 1985, depending on whether you count limited releases in international regions. If you’re digging for it, keep this in mind.