SUPERSTITION (1982): The Haunted House As An Entertaining Junkpile

The 1970’s and 1980’s produced a lot of horror classics.  They produced even more entertaining junk.  Superstition definitely fits the junk category and manages to be quite watchable thanks to a lucky collision between technical competence, period charm and a willingness to go for the gruesome gusto.

Superstition starts off with a solid premise: a priest takes a job in a rural town and moves his family into a house on an old piece of church property.  Pretty soon, evil spirits are bumping off anyone unfortunate enough to stick around on the property for more than five minutes. Another minister (James Houghton) working with the church soon discovers the ground that this home lies upon was cursed hundreds of years ago by a vengeful witch as she was executed by the locals. It’s up to him and a grizzled local cop (Albert Salmi) and to put an end to things before the entire cast gets wiped out in exploitation movie style. 

Superstition will never be confused with a classic: the characters act like morons, the dialogue they spew is suitably silly and the rough-hewn script slaps together its elements in a less-than-artful manner.  That said, if you are in the mood for good trash, Superstition delivers it by the bucketful.  It moves fast and the effects are quite wet when the time comes to serve up some grue. 

On the gruesome tip, Superstition makes its intentions known in the prologue when a couple of teen pranksters are dispatched in a suitably balls-to-the-wall style: one has his head blown up in a microwave and the other is chopped in half by a vengeful window(!).  There’s also another jaw-dropper of a moment when a supernatural disruption causes a sawblade to fly off the saw and into the torso of an unlucky visitor, pinning said unlucky soul to a chair as it burrows through their chest cavity.  A noteworthy lack of sentimentality about the characters goes hand in hand with this bloodthirsty approach so don’t get too attached to anyone in the supporting cast.

Also, Superstition the kind of movie that keeps the viewer hooked because it’s just a little better than it should be.  The production values are pretty good for a low-budget affair, with slick camerawork prowling effectively across the well-chosen house setting.  Director James Roberson generates a surprisingly spooky atmosphere and, considering the flimsiness of the script, gets pretty good performances from his main cast – especially Salmi as the crabby, tantrum-prone cop.  The end result is far from classic status but it’s perfect fodder for a trash-horror fest and would probably make a good co-feature with Amityville II: The Possession.

Blu-Ray Notes: This one recently made its way to blu-ray thanks to Scream Factory. It boasts a fresh new scan of the feature attraction and also throws in new interviews with Houghton and Roberson.

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