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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

Witchtrap aka "The Presence" [Blu-ray]

 

(Kevin Tenney, 1989)

 

 

Review by Gary Tooze

 

Production:

Theatrical: Cinema Plus

Video: Vinegar Syndrome

 

Disc:

Region: FREE! (as verified by the Oppo Blu-ray player)

Runtime: 1:31:24.479  

Disc Size: 38,867,118,492 bytes

Feature Size: 26,514,195,072 bytes

Video Bitrate: 34.86 Mbps

Chapters: 5

Case: Transparent Blu-ray case

Release date: March 28th, 2017

 

Video:

Aspect ratio: 1.85:1

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

 

Audio:

DTS-HD Master Audio English 1758 kbps 1.0 / 96 kHz / 1758 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 1.0 / 48 kHz / 768 kbps / 24-bit)
Commentary:

Dolby Digital Audio English 160 kbps 1.0 / 48 kHz / 160 kbps / DN -4dB

 

Subtitles:

English (SDH), None

 

Extras:

• Group commentary track with: Director Kevin Tenney, Producer Dan Duncan, Cinematographer Tom Jewett and Actor Hal Havins
Video interviews with: Director Kevin Tenney (23:37), Actress Linnea Quigley (13:40), Cinematographer Tom Jewett (15:10) and SFX Supervisor Tassilo Baur (17:11)
Audio interviews with: SFX Makeup Artist Judy Yonemoto and Music Composer Dennis Michael Tenney
Original 4:3 video trailer (2:55)
"Book of Joe" a short film Directed by Kevin Tenney (23:23)
Alternate ending for "Book of Joe" (3:44)
Production/Promotional still gallery
Original cover artwork by Corey Wolfe
Reversible cover artwork

Second disc DVD

 

Bitrate:

 

 

Description: For years, the Lauter House has been plagued by strange and violent occurrences. Unexplained deaths and seemingly supernatural activities have scared away all perspective tenants and buyers, but now its owners have decided to turn the old mansion into a bed and breakfast. Follow a team of paranormal experts as they attempt to remove the demonic forces and cleanse the property of all evil, through the use of a special device designed to lure in and trap evil spirits. But as soon as they arrive, the violence begins again as members of the team begin to meet increasingly bloody fates...

Director Kevin Tenney's (NIGHT OF THE DEMONS) WITCHTRAP is a gleefully gory and over the top late 80s supernatural shocker. Starring James Quinn (WITCHBOARD) and featuring scream queen Linnea Quigley in the film's most memorable and creative death scene, Vinegar Syndrome is proud to bring this outrageous cult classic to Blu-ray, totally uncut, with its long censored gore fully intact, and in a brand new Director and Cinematographer approved restoration, for the first time anywhere in the world!

 

 

The Film:

A man named Devin Lauter inherits a mansion from his long deceased uncle, Avery Lauter. Avery, it seems was a powerful warlock and died brutally in the home. Naturally, he possesses the place and kills erstwhile inhabitants. His nephew, Devin, hires a crack team of paranormal experts and some detectives, for security, to figure the place out. Of course, once they arrive things go horribly wrong…

Excerpt from Letterboxd located HERE

Witchtrap begins with a notice that “This Film is Not a Sequel to Witchboard”. It’s from the same director, Kevin S. Tenney, so I can see where the confusion came from, but I don’t think it was necessary to have a disclaimer in the beginning of the movie or anything. I don’t think anyone rented this back in the ‘80s and said, “WAIT! This ISN’T a sequel to Witchboard!?! I want my money back!” Interestingly enough, Tenney later went on to direct Witchboard 2. I haven’t seen that film, but I wonder if it opens up with a disclaimer stating “This Film is Not a Sequel to Witchtrap”.

A team of paranormal experts are called in to investigate a haunted bed and breakfast. A pair of wisecracking cops are forced to tag along and protect the psychics just in case something goes wrong. Naturally, the ghost of a powerful warlock haunts the B & B and it goes around the premises possessing household objects and killing the psychics.

Excerpt from VideoVacuum located HERE

Image :    NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.

Witchtrap comes to Blu-ray from Vinegar Syndrome described as "Newly scanned and restored in 2k from 35mm Interpositive". The 1080P actually looks pretty good - dual-layered with a max'ed out bitrate. There still may be a few compression artifacts barely visible in the background of a few shots but they are almost imperceptible and may have more to do with the production's original lighting, I'm guessing. Witchtrap can't look much better for home theater consumption. Colors are true, detail and grain well supported and it looks solid in-motion. There is no reason to find fault in the Blu-ray image which is adeptly transferred from a good source. It may even look better than it did originally.

 

CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Audio :

The film's audio is transferred in an authentic DTS-HD Master 1.0 channel mono track at 1758 kbps (24-bit) adding some depth to the minor effects. The score is composed by the director's brother Dennis Michael Tenney (Witchboard, Night of the Demons, Witchboard  2) and its suits the film well I thought, a shade ham-fisted, but adding atmosphere and suspense.  There are optional English subtitles. My Oppo has identified it as being a region FREE disc playable on Blu-ray machines worldwide.

 

Extras :

Vinegar Syndrome are always generous with supplements and this has a group commentary track with director Kevin Tenney, producer Dan Duncan, cinematographer Tom Jewett and actor Hal Havins (who played 'Elwin' in the film.) There are memories of the shoot, production details and some laughs. There are also four separate video interviews with Tenney, hottie Linnea Quigley, cinematographer Jewett and SFX Supervisor Tassilo Baur running over an hour in total. They are fairly colorful and honest - refreshing to hear their stories/opinions. We get two audio-only interviews with SFX Makeup Artist Judy Yonemoto and music composer Dennis Michael Tenney, an original 4:3 video trailer and some may enjoy a 25-minute short film directed by Kevin Tenney entitled "Book of Joe" which includes an optional 4-minute alternate ending for the curious. There is a production/promotional still gallery and the package features original cover artwork by Corey Wolfe with a reversible sleeve and a second disc DVD is included.

 

 

BOTTOM LINE:
Well, I thought this was going to be much worse than it was. Great concept - utilized in many genre films and it has some amateurish features - most likely tied to the modest budget. If you can get over those - this is a decent, if flawed, film. Not surprisingly, you see Linnea Quigley nude. Witchtrap is loitering in the so-bad-it's-good category but I think it's following will be those keen on the low-budget horror aspects. I guess I'm trying to says - it's not as bad as you might anticipate and there are thing about it I liked. Give it a spin and see. Vinegar Syndrome do a better job than anyone - both transfer and supplements - in re-surfacing this niche (cult, horror, and erotic films from the 1960s-90s) for Blu-ray distribution. They deserve some kudos/attention. Love their covers, too.  

Gary Tooze

March 15th, 2017

 

About the Reviewer: Hello, fellow Beavers! I have been interested in film since I viewed a Chaplin festival on PBS when I was around 9 years old. I credit DVD with expanding my horizons to fill an almost ravenous desire to seek out new film experiences. I currently own approximately 9500 DVDs and have reviewed over 5000 myself. I appreciate my discussion Listserv for furthering my film education and inspiring me to continue running DVDBeaver. Plus a healthy thanks to those who donate and use our Amazon links.

Although I never wanted to become one of those guys who focused 'too much' on image and sound quality - I find HD is swiftly pushing me in that direction.

Gary's Home Theatre:

60-Inch Class (59.58” Diagonal) 1080p Pioneer KURO Plasma Flat Panel HDTV PDP6020-FD

Oppo Digital BDP-83 Universal Region FREE Blu-ray/SACD Player
Momitsu - BDP-899 Region FREE Blu-ray player
Marantz SA8001 Super Audio CD Player
Marantz SR7002 THX Select2 Surround Receiver
Tannoy DC6-T (fronts) + Energy (centre, rear, subwoofer) speakers (5.1)

APC AV 1.5 kVA H Type Power Conditioner 120V

Gary W. Tooze

 

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