Tuesday, July 7, 2015

My Review Of "Darkside Witches"

Gerard Diefenthal's "Darkside Witches" is a modern Italian fantasy horror set in a remote village in the Italian countryside. The film stars Barbara Bouchet, Anna Orso, Gerard Diefenthal, Simona Cappia, Mirela David, Angelica Novak, Pino Michienzi, and Marco di Stefano. "Darkside Witches" is a mixed bag of bad and good, so much so that I watched a few times just to make sure my impression was legit from the movie or my dumbfounded-ness of at aspects of Diefenthal's choices in making this movie.

First the story, it is a cool throwback to more Gothic, dark fantasy horror revolving around witches, persecution and revenge. You could place this situation in any European and Colonial setting and the story is the same. Females burned for being witches, town cursed, and wah-lah! Witches survive to get their vengeance. I actually love these kinds of films involving the occult and witches. The classic, old world concept of witches that may be insensitive to the modern day witch/Wiccan, but true to our ancient past's view of the hag/crone/wicked maiden. 

Gerard Diefenthal manages to give the story some lift, creating iconic character types, Gothic settings, and plenty of drama mixed with gore. The film does move almost mirror-image to what I image the storyboard concept looked like. The transitions are blunt, quick changing and move the story quickly from moment to moment much like graphic novel/animation adaptations tend to do. For example one moment there is a woman in the kitchen preparing and in the next instant the scene transitions to her handing some homeless guy soup or something to eat with a wicked grin. The dialog is not over-burdening to the story, only crucial conversations that give the plot and sinister plans the witches have for the town, other characters idle chatter, or short scenes with just a couple of sentences. It allows for the action and suggested drama tell a lot of the story instead of some long speech like dialog delivered laboriously by the cast. It is overdubbed so be warned.

Now for me the nail in the coffin for this film isn't the overdubbed vs. subtitle choice, it is the CGI choices that were made to create the supernatural, witchy-ness side of the film. It is very low grade stuff, closer to Syfy on a dime. Think "Witchville". It is almost comical when those scenes take over the story. It all really shreds "Darkside Witches" momentum, and potential for being one of the modern day cult classics - you know the ones that are so bad they are good. Well the CGI here is just really bad and sad. That said, there are some really awesome, gory moments that use splattergore styled practical effects that scream Italian giallo! Really nice blood drenched moments. And the nudity is almost on soft-core porn level. 

All this is why I had to watch the film a few times. At first I thought-"What is this crap?", then the practical effects moments kicked in and I was like "Heck yeah!". Overall "Darkside Witches" is not gonna go over well for most horror fans, I mean this film is really gonna aim at a small select group of people who like the Syfy, CGI saturated stuff that uses gaming level computer effects. I am truly conflicted. Not because I am split on the film. I am conflicted because I liked the story, I love films about witches, and the gore and horror here, when practical choices are made, are awesome! Yet the overdubbed voices are so hokey and kill the seriousness of the dialog and scenes that it is troublesome. The CGI is, in all honesty, crap! And the transitions and smoothness of the story just moves to choppy and hurried to allow for any real connection with the characters.

The Digital Downfall Of "Darkside Witches" @ A Southern Horror Fan's Place

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