When searching the toy aisle for the ultimate “Creep-You-Out-So-Bad-You-Have-To-Change-Your-Shorts” party game, accept no substitutes.
Roll on Magic 8 Ball. Shuffle your way outta’ here Tarot Cards.
In the world of good timin’ occult fun, there can be only one.
Accept no substitutes and ask for it by name:
And that’s pronounced “Wee-ja” and not “Wee-jee,” as we’re conveniently reminded in this week’s fear-less feature, Witchboard.
Like the Little Engine That Couldn’t, Witchboard has all the intention of delivering a good scare, but even axe-wielding maniacs can’t elevate these 90 minutes of celluloid past “After School Special” caliber.
Yet despite being more -bored than -board, there is a little lesson stuck amongst the bell-curved alphabet, the YES’s and the NO’s.
But the most mystifying part of this oracle is how to discern that cryptic message before saying GOOD BYE.
Can we do it?
All signs point to yes.
So, for argument’s sake, let’s say Ouija boards were legit. Let’s assume spirits could use them as a vessel for communication with the curious and you were as inquisitive as a monkey whose owner never took off his yellow hat. What would you ask?
Oh, great Mystifying Oracle, what are tomorrow’s winning PowerBall numbers?
Oh, mighty seers of old, when will I die?
Oh, prophetic powers of plastic and pressboard, who convinced Tawny Kitaen she could act?
Any of the three would be valid inquiries. But in the case of Ms. Kitaen, it is not for us, dear viewers, to question the opinion of some obscure talent (or perhaps, “talent” is more appropriate) agent. Our mission is merely to assess her efforts with a fitting
Perhaps her most notable performance (outside of her role as Tom Hank’s girlfriend in Bachelor Party and her role as O.J. Simpson’s actual girlfriend) comes in this week’s feature, Witchboard.
More snorer than horror, this 1986 send-up of Ouija-phobia never produces a single solid scare (acting aside). And unlike most slasher-flicks, Witchboard’s (Witchbored’s?) primary villain gets less than a minute of total screen time (and it’s really just his spirit when…oh, just keep reading, if you dare).
While at a rockin’ Miami-Vice-like party the exquisitely-mulleted and vocally atheistic Brandon Sinclair (of The Young and the Restless and Days of Our Lives fame) brings the curiously cocaine-free festivities to a buzz-killing halt when he whips out his apparently fit-for-all-occasions Ouija board. Brandon starts working his occult-magic, trying to contact “David,” the spirit of a dead ten-year-old that is a frequent visitor on Brandon’s board. Just when the board starts a-hoppin’, Brandon’s former best friend Jim Morar (Todd Allen)—now his bitter rival thanks to their mutual affection for Linda Sinclair (Ms. Kitaen)—angers David by making fun of the whole spectacle. David stops spelling on the board, but somehow is able to put the paranormal hack and slash on Brandon’s tires, punishing him for having such a tool for a friend, apparently.
Brandon leaves in a huff, forgetting his board. Linda finds it the following day, and tries to contact David (a big no-no, according to Brandon, who insists it must never be used alone). David reveals the location of her lost engagement ring (she is scheduled to be Jim’s bride; lucky girl). Meanwhile, Jim’s work buddy, Lloyd, gets killed when a bladed-hammer falls on his dome at the construction site where they’re working. Linda worries that David may have had something to do with it, but when she contacts him again (once more on her own), he denies it. Little by little, she begins to become more and more obsessed with the board and starts to get downright snappy with Jim.
Brandon gets worried, and gets a medium friend (the psychic kind—not the bigger than small but not quite large kind) to check things out at Jim and Linda’s place. David behaves, but once the medium returns home, something spooks her. She thumbs through an occult encyclopedia and comes across a photo that triggers a realization, but in mere moments, she is beset upon by a never-shown, first-person presence who slashes her throat and pitches her two stories-down onto a sundial. Once Brandon hears about her death on the news, he convinces Jim that something is seriously wrong and together, they set out to find the truth about the board in order to save Linda. But only one of them will survive…
Jim (so much for the suspense, eh?) eventually discovers that David is actually the spirit of a former axe murderer named Malfeitor who lived and died in his home.
But his discovery comes too late to pull Linda back from the dark side, and when he comes home to warn her, she has already become possessed by Malfeitor and attacks Jim with an axe while wearing an outfit that the sharp-dressed Malfeitor would’ve been proud of–one that looks suspiciously like Kim Basinger’s strip-tease get-up in 9 ½ Weeks.
Upon first glance, it seems Witchboard’s solitary life lesson is the obvious one: don’t mess with the occult (or don’t expect too much from Tawny Kitaen’s acting. Sorry—last time). Indeed, the Bible admonishes all types of witchcraft, sorcery and soothsaying in Deuteronomy 18 and Revelation 21.
But there’s a a stronger message hidden among the ‘Board‘s cryptic letters, numbers and symbols. Brandon and Jim put aside their differences and cooperate to save Linda. Brandon dies in the process, but before he does, he reconciles with Jim. In John 15:13, the good old King James version declares that, “No man hath greater love than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.”
It takes a lot of faith (in Jim’s case) to follow Brandon down the rabbit hole of black magic and hucksterism. But Brandon comes up with the much bigger sacrifice. He still loves Linda, but knows that she will never love him again. He resents Jim for stealing her away, but when her life is on the line, he doesn’t hesitate to swallow his pride and work with the man that she will soon marry. Even though Jim keeps belittling his belief in the supernatural, Brandon looks past his pettiness for the greater good. Atheism aside, Brandon exhibits the very forgiving determination Jesus commands: “But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also (Matthew 5:39; New International Version).”
Just make sure they’re not holding an axe.