MGM’s Limited Edition Collection heads into enjoyable but far-from-classic territory with this goofy horror tale. Tom Selleck is an art historian living in the Philippines with his in-therapy wife (Barra Grant). He buys a painting (supposed to be centuries old, but looking for all the world as if it were commissioned for a motel) that depicts witches being burned, and the central witch bears an uncanny resemblance to Grant. Then the weirdness begins.
The painting keeps changing. Other women, looking exactly like the other witches, show up with a mysterious agenda. Cultists make repeated attempts on Selleck’s life. Grant oscillates between terror and acting possessed. Will Selleck solve the mystery before his wife is inducted into a Satanic cult?
Not if he keeps behaving like an idiot, he won’t. But in fairness, he’s hardly alone. This is low-end piece of 70s horror, pilfering elements of Rosemary’s Baby to incoherent effect. The narrative has a lurching, stop-start quality, with very little connective tissue between scenes. One could almost picture commercial breaks happening every ten minutes, with Selleck’s anxiety having be reset during the break. In fact, the film looks quite a bit like a TV movie from 1972, only with nudity and minor gore tossed in. But its very clunkiness does give it a kind of charmless charm. Among its campy virtues: the demonic Rottweiler (four years before The Omen) who must easily be the happiest demon dog in the movies, running around with that big doggy grin; Grant looking every inch the typical 70s brunette horror heroine, inspiring nostalgic thoughts of the Katharine Ross and Margot Kidder roles yet to come; Selleck in tight red pants, wrong in so many ways; Tani Guthrie as the coven leader, performing black mass in an outfit that doesn’t look so much Satanic as it does her super-villain costume; dialogue like “He’s the same painter who painted the painting you bought” (try saying that five times quickly).
Deeply, deeply silly, then, but great drive-in fun. Does this film have a constituency that was clamoring for its release? News to me if it does, but clunky as it is, count me as one happy to see it on disc.