Italian film poster for Witchery
|Directed by||Fabrizio Laurenti|
|Produced by||Aristide Massaccesi|
|Screenplay by||Daniele Stroppa|
|Story by||Daniele Stroppa|
|Music by||Carlo Maria Cordio|
|Edited by||Rosanna Landi|
Filmirage Production Group
|Distributed by||Aristi Associati/Gruppo Berna|
Witchery (Italian: La Casa 4 (Witchcraft)) is a 1988 Italian horror film directed by Fabrizio Laurenti and starring David Hasselhoff, Catherine Hickland, Hildegard Knef, Linda Blair, and Annie Ross.
Gary (David Hasselhoff) and his gal pal Leslie (Leslie Cumming) visit an island off the coast of Massachusetts where a haunted resort hotel looms to do research on witchcraft. They are joined by the Brooks family (including a pregnant Linda Blair), prospective buyers of the property. When a storm prevents them from leaving the island, they are subjected to the wrath of an evil witch who picks them off one by one until only Gary, Leslie, the pregnant Jane, and Jane's little brother remain. Leslie, who was a virgin, is raped during a satanic ceremony while Jane becomes possessed by the witch and proceeds to chase the survivors through the hotel. She eventually corners the survivors and begins to choke her little brother, causing him to drop a tape recorder she had given him earlier in the film. The recorder plays a message he had created for her, saying that he loves her. This succeeds in temporarily breaking the witch's hold on Jane, who throws herself out of a window to her death in order to prevent the witch from regaining control. The film ends with Leslie in a hospital bed, as the survivors were successfully rescued, where she is horrified to learn that she was impregnated during the ceremony.
- David Hasselhoff as Gary
- Linda Blair as Jane Brooks
- Catherine Hickland as Linda Sullivan
- Annie Ross as Rose Brooks
- Hildegard Knef as Lady in Black
- Leslie Cummins as Leslie
- Bob Champagne as Freddie Brooks
- Rick Farnsworth as Jerry Giordano
The financial success of Ghosthouse, which was titled La casa 3–Ghosthouse in Italy, led to producer Aristide Massaccesi and distributor Claudio Lattanzi to develop an in-name only sequel. The director of the initial film, Umberto Lenzi suggested a story for a sequel which he described as being similar to Psycho, but felt that the producers had no interest in it. The film's screenplay and story is credited to Daniele Stroppa, but Lattanzi had claimed to have had a hand in working on the story at Stroppa's location as he was going to direct it.
Lattanzi pushed on producer Massaccessi to get actress Bette Davis for the role of the witch in the film, but later cast Hildegard Knef in the role. Other cast members included David Hasselhoff who was popular in Italy due to his series Knight Rider and under Lattanzi's suggestion, Leslie Cummins who had previously been in Killing Birds. Early on, Lattanzi left production and was replaced with Luigi Cozzi who left the film two weeks into pre-production finding the story "too predictable and banal".
Cozzi was in turn replaced with Fabrizio Laurenti, who had previously debuted with his 30-minute vampire film titled The Immigrant. Massaccesi said he enormously liked The Immigrant and liked it enormously but found on set that when Laurenti found himself with an international cast of Linda Blair and David Hasselhoff, he felt a little out of his depth....he didn't manage to give it everything he was capable of." Massaccesi agreed to finance Laurentis next film, despite feeling the director "still has a long way to go."
Witchery was released as early as 1 December 1988 in West Germany as Hexenbrut. This was followed by a theatrical release in Japan on 1 July 1989 and a home video release in the United States on 6 July 1989 before being released theatrically in Italy on 6 August 1989 where it was distributed by Aristi Associati/Gruppo Berna. Film historian Roberto Curti noted that the film did very good box office in Italy, becoming the 60th highest-grossing film of the year with 1,283,194,000 Italian lire. This placed the film below James Cameron's The Abyss that year.
- La Casa series - An Italian rebranding of several otherwise unrelated horror films, including Witchery.
- List of Italian films of 1988
- List of horror films of 1988
- List of works by David Hasselhoff
- Curti 2019, p. 157.
- Curti 2019, p. 158.
- Gomarasca, Manlio (May 2008). "Claudio Lattanzi, La verita secondo Claude Milliken". Nocturno Dossier (in Italian). No. 7. p. 56.
- Palmerini & Mistretta 1996, p. 79.
- Curti 2019, p. 159.
- Porro, Maurizio (23 August 1989). "Quei Fantasmi maligni inclusi nel prezzo". Corriere Della Sera (in Italian).