• Witchboard

    Released by: Anchor Bay Entertainment
    Released on: August 24, 2004.
    Director: Kevin Tenney
    Cast: Tawny Kitaen, Todd Allen, Stephen Nichols, Kathleen Wilhoite, J. P. Luebsen, Burke Byrnes
    Year: 1985

    The Movie:

    Those of us who grew up in the eighties remember the lovely and talented Tawny Kitaen primarily from her turn as the hood grinding hottie in Whitesnake’s Here I Go Again video. Many a pre-pubescent boy will fondly reminisce about growing some hair on his palms to her wild and myriad gyrations atop a fancy sports car while her then husband, David Coverdale, and company played in the background, telling us of a heart in need of rescue. Ah yes, those were the days.

    But the former Mrs. Coverdale wasn’t just a rock video hottie, oh no. She was so much more to so many people. Before she got remarried and then subsequently divorced from Chuck Finley (who slapped a restraining order against her after she got stoned and beat him up) she starred in Kevin Tenney’s Witchboard, a mediocre film that spawned a couple of sequels and kept more than a few of us away from those Ouija Boards that were all left over and laying around basements as relics of the seventies.

    Lawdy Miss Tawny plays Linda Brewster, a pretty young woman who lives with her boyfriend, a construction worker who has recently dropped out of medical school named Jim (Todd Allen). One night at a party that the pair of young lovebirds is hosting, Linda’s ex-boyfriend, Brandon (day time soap star Stephen Nichols), busts out the Ouija Board in hopes of livening things up by talking to the dead. He communicates with a strange spirit and of course, it ends badly.

    When Brandon accidentally leaves the board at their apartment after the party, Linda slowly but surely starts to become obsessed with it, using it to communicate with the spirit of a dead boy named David. At first things seem harmless but of course, soon the spirit starts to exert its evil influence over Linda and Jim’s lives to the point where people are starting to wind up dead.

    When Jim and Brendan put their differences aside to help Linda and bring in a medium who also winds up dead, they team up to investigate the circumstances surrounding David’s death and soon uncover more than they bargained for.

    Witchboard is decent entertainment for a weekend afternoon when you’ve got nothing to do, but it isn’t overly scary or interesting. The acting, the direction, the storyline are all mediocre – never good enough to impress nor bad enough to entertain for the wrong reasons the way that a good bad movie can do. Sure, Tawny takes off her clothes but that only lasts a few minutes and doesn’t really up the exploitation factor enough to do much in the way of gratuitous or unnecessary sleaze or violence. There are a few inventive kills and the cinematography is nice but it isn’t enough to make Witchboard anything more than average.


    Anchor Bay’s anamorphic widescreen presentation of Witchboard retains the film’s original aspect ratio of 1.85.1 and for the most part, it looks great. I only noticed one instance of mpeg compression (the dock scene) and edge enhancement is almost non-existent here. Any print damage that is visible is limited to the odd dust speck here and there, that’s about it. Colors look nice and vibrant, flesh tones are lifelike and natural and there’s really very little to complain about here.

    The Dolby Digital Mono soundtrack is in English and is clean, clear and free of any hiss or distortion. At times, things do sound just a tiny bit flat but it’s only an occasional and minor problem. For an almost twenty year old mono mix, this sounds just fine.

    First up is a full length running commentary track with director Kevin Tenney, executive producer Walter Josten, and Producer Jeff Geoffray (these are the same three men who supplied the commentary for AB’s recent Night Of The Demons release as well). Once again, there’s a lot of good information here and the track moves along at a quick pace covering all manner of the facets of the production including anecdotes about cast members as well as some of the technical hurdles that the crew members had to overcome to get the movie finished.

    There’s also an almost twenty-three minute long Making Of Witchboard featurette that Anchor Bay presents window boxed. This is a vintage featurette and it looks like it was shot either during production or shortly after. All three of the main cast members are on hand to offer their thoughts on the film, and there’s quite a bit of nice behind the scenes footage, including some fun clips of the climactic fall from the window that occurs towards the end of the movie.

    Rounding out the extra features are the film’s original theatrical trailer and two television spots. Anchor Bay has also provided an insert that has a replica of the Ouija Board used in the film on one side and the chapter listing for the movie on the other side – a nice touch.

    The Final Word:
    Well, Witchboard hasn’t aged so well. It’s not scary and sadly, it’s not particularly interesting either. Tawny is fun to look at but it’s not enough, though I’ve got to give Anchor Bay credit where it’s due as they’ve done a great job on the DVD – it looks and sounds quite good and the extras are better than the feature itself.