Reviewed by Jeff DeLuzio
Rating: 5 Beans
Michael Medved wasn't always just a neo-conservative whiner with dubious taste in films; back in the 80s, he and his brother scribed "The Golden Turkey Awards", a book not unlike this site and, having slagged Medved in the first half of the overly long sentence which begins this review, I'll tip my hat to him (imitation being the sincerest form of flattery) in the second half by awarding some "Golden Turkeys" of my own to Jane Simpson's "Little Witches".
1.Most Blatant Rip-off of an Existing Film. Did I mention that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery? Studios live by the dictum, and Entertainment Executives more frequently ask "does this film proposal fit a trend?" than think "is it any damn good?" That said, even the most cynical and money-oriented executive might balk (as in "Fairuza Balk") at the Ferengi ethics that went into this direct-to-video flick. The story involves a group of teenage girls practising real witchcraft at a Catholic High School where the girls wear those kilted fetish outfits. Special effects and teen sexuality vie for equal screen time, while the girls polarize between the fair good witch and the dark naughty witch. We have six instead of four enchantresses here, but otherwise, the ripping-off of "The Craft" is complete. In case anyone misses the resemblance, the video cover has naughty witch Sherri Rappaport looking far more like "The Craft"'s Fairuza Balk than she ever does in the film itself.
2. Most Gratuitous use of the Term, "Illuminati" in a Motion Picture. You might have thought yourself hip several years ago 'cause you understood the KLF's "Justified and Ancient." Not anymore: cultic jokes about the Illuminated Seers of Bavaria are going mainstream. There's an Illuminati card game. Trendier "alternative" bookshops generally devote a section to Robert Anton Wilson's work. I've even been told that an episode of the "Gargoyles" cartoon has a reference to every paranoic's favourite mystic conspirators. Expect an Illuminati allusion in Jay Leno's monologue any time soon.
But "Little Witches" takes the Devil's Food Cake, calling the teen coven "Illuminati" for absolutely no reason.
3. Another 15 Minutes of Fame in the Horror Genre, Please Award. This goes to Zelda Rubinstien, best known as the dwarfish psychic in the "Poltergeist" films. Unable to get a mall opening, she appears here as a similarly-conceived nun character.
4. Skeletons in My Directorial Closet Award. And the big award goes to director Jane Simpson. This film is shlocky, but most of the actors do a passable job, and Simpson's directing occasionally suggests that better things await her. By directing a rip-off of a financially successful film, adding some nudity, and eliminating most extras (the film is set during a break in the school year). the little-known Simpson has put her movie on the "Top Rental" shelves of videostores across the continent. If I were an Entertainment Executive, I'd take notice. Like David Cronenberg, whose early, shlocky and exploitively disturbing early films made his current well-made and exploitively disturbing films possible, Simpson may have a career ahead of her.
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