Sunday 29 May 2011

Superstition (1982)

SUPERSTITION is an American haunted house movie that was directed by James W. Roberson in 1982 and stars James Houghton, Albert Salmi, Larry Pennell and Jacquelyn Hyde (which sounds to me like a phoney in-joke name).  It's about a house which has a long history of death attached to it on account of the witch who was drowned in the garden pond in the 17th century but not before placing a curse on the spot where she was put to death.

If all that sounds corny then it is.  For SUPERSTITION is a prime example of movie-making at its most cynically commercial.  It shamelessly rips off countless better movies, chucks in a couple of pretty girls in bikinis and hot pants, and tries to cover up its inadequacies with some gruesome death scenes.  It doesn't seek to genuinely frighten you, it seeks to entertain you and, if you're prepared to accept it on those terms, then it is reasonably successful.

It's certainly never dull.  It only runs for just over 80 minutes and in that time manages to wipe out an entire family, a few coppers, a couple of dumb teenagers and at least three men of the cloth.  There are deaths by microwave, window frame, mirror, circular saw, wine press and a good old fashined stake through the face.  There's also a shonky flashback sequence to 1692 which includes a curate who looks like Rasputin and a witch whose faces pulses and throbs in a manner which Manimal might have found disturbing.

Roberson only made a handful of features and while I usually point this out as a tragedy in his case it is something of a blessing.  It appears that he went on to a busy career as director of photography on a seemingly endless number of US TV series, including THE KING OF QUEENS and Melissa Joan Hart's MELISSA AND JOEY, on which he presumably swapped witch stories with the leading lady.

The cast isn't particularly interesting apart from Albert Salmi, a veteran character actor who appeared in a good number of quality films, particularly westerns, as well as innumerable TV episodes.  Tragically, Salmi suffered from depression in later life and shot himself in 1990, after apparently shooting dead his wife from whom he was separated.

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