Sequels In The Dark: WITCHCRAFT 5
Thrust upon the world with its original entry in 1998, the Witchcraft series has gone on to an incredible fifteen entries, two of which came out just this year. It’s still going, too. Part sixteen (“Hollywood Coven”) comes out early next year.
Witchcraft 5: “Dance with the Devil” (I’m not being a smartass adding those quotation marks; that’s how the film is billed in the title cards, like an episode of television) is the latest entry of the series I could find streaming. Something around part ten or eleven would have been preferable, but five isn’t bad for a franchise I have absolutely no familiarity with beyond ogling the boob-tastic VHS covers as a kid.
And yet it did cause me some confusion. For reasons I’ll describe in more detail below, Witchcraft 5’s strangely complicated plot feels like a sequel to an ongoing story, but I was unable to confirm whether or not that is the case. The internet has surprisingly little to say on the matter. Only films one, two, and eight have Wikipedia entries, for instance. There does appear to be a main character (Will Spanner) in many of the films, so that much I know. I just can’t figure out which of the film’s support characters I’m supposed to be familiar with or how much of the story is a continuation from the first four Witchcraft entries.
I also don’t really care. Against all odds, Witchcraft 5’s plot, perhaps thanks to elements that seem new to me but were introduced in previous films, has quite a bit going on and somehow remains intriguing throughout, despite being a truly bad movie.
There’s no great way to get this across other than annoyingly describing the first fifteen minutes of the film. So here we go. We’re first introduced to a prostitute and her boyfriend just as they accidentally kill a John they wish to rob. Are they our protagonists?
We then meet a preacher and his assistant in the backseat of a limo as they plan meetings with city officials to help rid the city of homelessness. He seems like a nice enough guy. Is he our protagonist?
Well, as the prostitute and her boyfriend try to drive this poor guy’s dead body out of town, they hit a random homeless man with their car, bringing their grand total of accidental murders up to two! The preacher sees this, and as they drive off, he checks the homeless guy for vital signs and gets some kind of super power from the dying man. This suddenly makes him want to smoke cigarettes and bang his assistant.
While trying to dump their first dead guy’s body, the prostitute and her boyfriend come across a scary satanist guy. He possesses the prostitute and makes her kill her boyfriend with a glowing sword. Now she’s sort of like his Renfield. This bad guy, Cain, wants to collect enough souls that were sold to Satan to bring his master (again, Satan) back to Earth.
So we have a villain, a sub villain, a plan, and whatever’s going on with the preacher. Only now do we meet our actual protagonist, Will, a lame-looking everyman who we later learn is unknowingly some kind of white witch who can gather souls as a superpower. Cain meets Will by chance at a magic show he performs at a rock club (I shit you not). Immediately sensing Will’s power, Cain has his Renfield slip into his house and fuck him into submission.
The remainder of the film has two main threads. Cain sends Will to go kill someone and gather their soul (which flies into Cain’s big-ass cape). Meanwhile, Will’s girlfriend, who works for that preacher you probably already forgot about, tries to save her man from this weird possession (and also at one point fucks him under the romantic shower of a severely leaking plumbing pipe). We later learn that Cain and the preacher guy are old enemies. Not that it matters.
You may have already figured this out, but Witchcraft 5 is a sex film. It devotes a large chunk of running time to nude people cavorting atop one another with lots of boob shots and wiggly tongue action. And that’s on top of all the additional nudity just thrown in for good measure. The sex scenes have an autopilot feel to them and go on minutes longer than what feels like the natural amount of time it takes normal films to a) communicate that these people are doing it and b) get the film play on Cinemax. So if you’re hunting Amazon Prime for that sort of entertainment, this might be a good bet.
As a horror film, I don’t think it has much to offer. Suspense is nonexistent, and while there are a number of kills, they totally lack the time and effort that went into showing people boink in front of blue gels. You get a little bit of blood, but not much more. The guy playing Cain is a real hoot, though. He looks a bit like Gene Simmons and takes the character to extremely high levels of Heavy Metal narration cheese with every line reading.
Still, I find myself someone intrigued by the story here. Going into Witchcraft 5 blissfully unaware of what’s going on means you get an interesting narrative told with a lot of weird bombshells thrown in out of nowhere. Will is a white witch. The preacher is an old enemy of Cain’s. Everyone appears to have some major role to play that you would never expect. I’m not saying it’s good storytelling, but it certainly kept me on my toes.
The nicest thing I can say is this: I probably won’t watch the rest of the series, but I will definitely be on the look out for articles that explain just what the hell is going on with this Will guy and the rest of his Witchcraft adventures. Life’s too short to follow him through sixteen chapters of booby nonsense, but I wouldn’t mind spending an hour mining YouTube for info.