Monday, October 24, 2011


Tom Selleck (at left, and several years away from Magnum PI fame) is a museum agent working in Manila. He finds a painting of a trio of witches being burned at the stake in 1592 and though it's a piece of junk, he buys it as a curiosity because one of the witches looks exactly like his wife (Barra Grant). She freaks out when she sees it, and soon strange things start happening: a housekeeper who looks like one of the other witches in the painting shows up out of nowhere to be her housekeeper, a big black dog—which she somehow knows is named Nicodemas--starts hanging around, and she hears voices out of nowhere. Soon, a woman named Kitty, who sees the same therapist that Selleck does, is yelling about being forced to kill, and sure enough, she's the spitting image of the third witch. The images in the painting (which include the big black dog) begin to fade, and death and violence surround Selleck and his wife. Yes, Grant and the other two women are apparently reincarnations of the dead witches and they're ready to recommit themselves to the coven and get revenge by getting rid of Selleck—though how that would constitute revenge was never clear to me, unless Selleck is a stand-in for the Phallocentric Chauvinistic Pigs who kept the witches down over the centuries.

This feels like a TV-movie, with the added attraction of some bare breasts now and then, and way more evil imagery than network TV would allow. There's a nice opening scene of a naked woman being tortured by Satanists, and a later scene in which Grant has to spit on a crucifix. Elements of the earlier Rosemary's Baby and the later The Omen make this film seem like warmed-over seconds, and Selleck, hairy and baby-faced and dressed in ass-hugging slacks, doesn't quite seem to know how to play his part. None of the acting is above average, and there are plotholes galore, but a creepy atmosphere is developed often enough to make this a decent choice for October viewing. [TCM]

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