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'Witchboard' is some vintage scary fun

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Witchboard

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That urge to reach out and communicate is a universal one that rings true in people everywhere, but sometimes it can be taken a little too far. Fresh on Blu-Ray for the very first time, "Witchboard" still works as an effective psychological thriller that mixes in some elements of the supernatural with quality drama.

It's called a Ouija Board and it's been used for thousands of years to communicate with the souls of the after world. For the stunning Linda Brewster (Tawny Kitaen) it brings the playful ghost of a dead ten year old boy. However when the friendly spirit develops a sudden taste for violent murder and demonic possession, Linda's boyfriend (Todd Allen) and her former lover (Stephen Nichols) must race to destroy the ferocious portal of the damned.

It's very 1980's, but "Witchboard" holds up as effective indie thriller that still hits all the right notes, even all these years later. Writer/Director Kevin Tenney in his directorial debut puts together a solid little thriller that runs through the story points from A, to B, to C in a solid fashion. He maximizes his strengths and hides any obvious weaknesses and never at any times feels like a low budget affair. The script while dealing with some moments of clunky dialogue never feels overly dated in spite of a high number of jean jackets and big hair, it still plays well and director of photography Roy H Wagner along with Tenney certainly came from the Hitchcock school of filmmaking as they effectively manufacture tension throughout in spite of the occasional pacing problem.

One of the first big on screen roles for Tawny Kitaen, she commands the screen as the highly sexual Linda who finds herself being obsessively fought over by the two male leads. She works quite well as the sexpot, but also the everyday woman slowly being possessed by a nefarious demon. Todd Allen as her indifferent and troubled but eventually caring boyfriend did well enough in what was one of his first leading man roles, while Stephen Nichols was a solid rival and eventual partner as they both try to save the soul of the woman that they both love. A young Kathleen Wilhoite and screen veteran Rose Marie both deliver some solid and fun work in support of this love triangle that is getting torn apart by demonic possession.

Picture and sound quality on this new Blu-Ray unquestionably first rate and the extensive special features include a brand new feature length audio commentary track with writer/director Kevin Tenney and actors Stephen Nichols, Kathleen Wilhoite and James Quinn. An additional feature length commentary track with Kenney, executive producer Walter Josten and producer Jeff Geoffray. Brand new interviews with Kevin Tenney, Tawny Kitaen, J.P. Luebsen, James Quinn, Walter Josten, Todd Allen and many more, a vintage making of "Witchboard" along with the original theatrical trailer, TV spots, stills gallery and outtakes.

At the end of the day, "Witchboard" manages to be a little more than your standard run of the mill goofy horror fare and works as a decent story about demons that you can shut off the lights to while kicking back with a big bucket of popcorn.

3 out of 5 stars.

"Witchboard" is now available for purchase as a DVD/Blu-Ray Combo Pack from retailers like HMV and amazon.ca.

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