• Sorceress

    Released by: Synapse Films
    Released on: June 14th, 2016.
    Director: Jim Wynorski
    Cast: Linda Blair, Julie Strain, Michael Parks, Edward Albert, Larry Poindexter, Rochelle Swanson
    Year: 1995
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    The Movie:

    Not to be confused with the film of the same name from 1982 that was written by Jim Wynorski and directed by Jack Hill, 1995’s Sorceress, directed by Jim Wynorski but written by Mark Thomas McGee is one of those films fondly remembered by those who grew up during the era of pay TV skin flicks. And man-oh-man, does it ever shows its age. That won’t be a problem for the film’s fans, however, and the movie remains an entertaining mix of softcore bumping and grinding and goofball horror, but it’s definitely a product of its time. That cinematography, the wardrobe, the lighting, the soundtrack…. hard to believe it looks as dated as it does but it’s been over twenty years since this was made.


    Our tale revolves around a well to do lawyer named Larry (Larry Poindexter) who comes home from work (his boss is played by William Marshall!) one night only to find his buxom dark haired wife, Erica (Julie Strain), naked as a jaybird. Is she surprising him with some after work nookie? No, she is not. The dagger she’s brandishing would be a pretty good indicator of that, though if you’re into that more power to you. Really though, he busts her in the middle of an occult ritual. See, she’s a witch and what she was doing was trying taking Howard Reynolds (Eddie Albert) out of the picture since he got the promotion over her beau. Howard’s wife, Amelia (Linda Blair), is decidedly nonplussed about all of this – particularly when Howard winds up in a wheelchair thanks to Erica’s work.

    Things get complicated from there. We soon learn that Larry used to have a thing going with foxy blonde co-worker Carol (Rochelle Swanson) until Erica put him under one of her spells. When Erica is killed and Larry is reunited with Carol, well, he can’t shake her memory, nor can he stop thinking about that awesome three-way he had with his late wife and her witch-boss, Maria (Tony Naples). Eventually some of Larry’s neighbors wind up dead, Carol starts acting an awfully lot like poor, dead Erica and Amelia, who has taken up the dark arts herself, get sexually frustrated.

    The story by Mark Thomas McGee (of Equinox fame – and who had worked with Wynorski prior in 1990 when he wrote Sorority House Massacre II and Hard To Die!) moves at a nice clip, even if it has massive logic gaps and frequently comes to a screeching halt to let the sex scenes be sex scenes. That’s less a complain than an observation, mind you, as the sex scenes are nicely done and the ladies, as silicone enhanced as many of them may be, are in fine form. Wynorski and his crew clearly put a lot of effort into getting that nineties era softcore look just right, and this winds up a very slick looking production despite the fact that it was clearly made with a modest budget.

    Blair’s character is never properly defined, you get the impression that they just shot a few scenes with her acting like a witch and cut them into the movie whenever they needed to remind viewers that this was a movie about witches, not just tits, but it’s fun to see her here. As such, Blair’s performance is… odd. She never seems to really fit into the story the way that the others do.

    Note that this version of Sorceress is the director’s cut, as such, it’s got a bit more T&A on display and the sex scenes push things just a little bit further than in some of the other versions of the movie floating around. The rest of the cast seem more engaged. Eddie Albert and Larry Poindexter are pretty fun to watch and hey, it’s never a bad thing when Blacula shows up, even if it’s a small paycheck role. Really though, it’s Julie Strain and Rochelle Swanson that stand out in this one. They both vamp it up to ridiculous degrees and spend plenty of time in their birthday suits – which is really the main point of the movie in the first place. But hey, it works.


    Synapse Films presents Sorceress on Blu-ray in its original 1.85.1 widescreen aspect ratio in AVC encoded 1080p high definition. Taken from ‘a new 2K scan of the original uncut film element’ this really is an impressive transfer. This is a very colorful picture with strong black levels that shows good contrast and strong detail throughout. Skin tones, a very important element of this particular film’s appeal, appear lifelike and accurate and there are no noticeable issues with compression artifacts, edge enhancement or overzealous noise reduction. This blows the old Image DVD release out of the water.

    The disc’s singular audio option for the feature is an English language DTS-HD 2.0 Stereo mix, there are no alternate language options offered nor are there any closed captioning or subtitles options provided. Clarity of the audio is fine. The levels are nicely balanced and there are problems with any hiss or distortion. The score sounds quite good too and the sound effects, while never particularly bombastic, have decent range when they’re used.

    Extras start off with an audio commentary in which director Jim Wynorski flies solo for the duration. It’s a detailed and well-paced track, Wynorski’s rarely at a loss for words here. He talks about the script, some things that were changed during the production, the ever important casting decisions, locations, and more. There’s a second audio commentary with Wynorski and Tom Savini, who sort of acts as the de facto moderator here. He asks Wynorski various questions about the movie’s content, the gratuitous nature of the picture, some of the effects work, what it was like working alongside some of the bigger names that appear in front of the camera and more. These guys are having a good time as they go through the movie together, making it worth a listen.

    The disc also includes menus and chapter selection and comes house in an appropriately sinister black colored Blu-ray case – a nice touch!

    The Final Word:

    Synapse’s Blu-ray release of Sorceress is a good one, presenting Wynorski’s skin and sin cult classic in beautiful condition and with two solid commentary tracks that serve to document its history.

    Click on the images below for full sized Blu-ray screen caps!

    Comments 2 Comments
    1. Jason C's Avatar
      Jason C -
      I can't wait for this. Any disc with Jim Wynorski giving an interview or commentary is going to get my money. And I dig Julie Strain more than I should. So pleased Synapse got this film. I'd piss myself if they released SORORITY HOUSE MASSACRE 2. Thanks for the review Ian.
    1. Fundi's Avatar
      Fundi -
      ah this reminds me of being in high school and staying up late and watching these films on late night cable, I will have to pick this up, I can't recall if I saw this one, but I saw literally hundreds of these films in the 90's and seeing them released on blu ray is great