Looking Back On Kevin Tenney’s Underated Gem ‘Witchtrap’ (1989)

A couple months ago, I was scrolling through Facebook and stumbled onto a video that instantly caught my eye. It was a clip of Linnea Quigley in a shower being killed by a possessed shower head. The clip was from Kevin Tenney‘s 1989 film Witchtrap, which was soon to be released for the first time in uncut form on both DVD and Blu-ray from Vinegar Syndrome. Having been meaning to check out more of Kevin’s work, I made a mental note to remember to pick up a copy when I had the chance. Read on for why I think you should give this criminally underappreciated film a shot.

Witchtrap was written and directed by Kevin Tenney (Night of the Demons 1988) and stars James W. Quinn (Witchboard 1986), Kathleen Bailey (Night Visitor 1989), Judy Tatum (Witchboard 1986), Rob Zapple (Peacemaker 1990), Jack W. Thompson (Peacemaker 1990), Clyde Talley II (Peacemaker 1990), Hal Havins (Sorority Babes in the Slimeball Bowl-O-Rama 1988), Linnea Quigley (Return of the Living Dead 1985), and J.P. Luebsen (Witchboard 1986).

The plot follows a group of paranormal researchers who are hired to investigate claims of a haunting at an old mansion that is set to become a bed and breakfast. They head there with a team of private investigators and are terrorized by a deceased warlock and his servant. What follows is jam packed with cheesy one-liners, creative kills and even a bit of full frontal Linnea Quigley nudity.

Witchtrap is a film that should not be near as good as it is, given the fact that Kevin Tenney got the idea and wrote in a week. Also, due to an audio error, all the dialogue and sound effects had to be re-recorded in post production. The voices don’t always match with the lip movements, which is slightly annoying at first but as the film goes on, it is less noticeable and just adds to the film’s charm.

There are some excellent, highly inventive kills, including a throat impaled by a shower head, a bullet flying out of its box and into a man’s forehead, a man being shot in the torso several times before being shot in the head, a hatchet flying through the air into a woman’s head, a fantastic and unexpected head explosion, and a man melting. The camera work is extremely stylish, especially during the more elaborate kill scenes, reminiscent of the early work of Sam Raimi in the Evil Dead series.

The cast, despite having to re-record all their lines, does a pretty good job. The best are Linnea Quigley and James W. Quinn. Linnea, whose screentime is relatively brief, is effortlessly sexy and hilarious. Quinn, who plays Vincente, gets most of the movies best lines including:

“Who the hell are you kidding? You’re going up there to take on Casper the fucking ghost. You don’t need a detective… you need Bill Murray for Christ’s sake.”

“Maybe your parents aren’t really first cousins either, Murph, but I wouldn’t really lay odds on it, cause see, if you’re not a direct product of inbreeding, than there really is a God and he’s got a personal grudge against you.”

“Goddammit, I gotta hand it to ya, Murphy, I’m impressed. I always knew you were a scumbag, but I never knew how scummy a bag you could be.”

And those are all in one scene.

Witchtrap is a fun film that doesn’t get the credit it deserves. It manages to pull off something that isn’t easy to do: balance gruesome horror elements with lighthearted comedy and make it feel cohesive. The film features everything you could want in a comedic ’80s horror flick: funny dialogue, gory kills, nudity, and just enough story to keep you interested.My only complaint is it was left open for a sequel that never came. If you haven’t given Witchtrap a chance, I highly recommend it. You can pick up the DVD/Blu-ray combo pack from Vinegar Syndrome’s online store.

About Charlie Cargile

Indianapolis based Horror journalist. Lover of most things Horror (especially Indie), Pop Punk and the strange and unusual.

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