Witchouse: Blood Coven

Witchouse: Blood Coven (2000)
Full Moon Pictures
Cast: Andrew Prine, Ariauna Albright
Extras: Commentary Track, Featurettes, Outtakes, Music Videos, Talent Files, Documentary, Trailers

Full Moon has just unveiled its first ’Lunar Edition, ’ their new Special Edition line of DVDs. If ’Witchouse: Blood Coven’ is any example of what we can expect from future entries into this series, then Charles Band and Co. may have created a new high watermark for direct-to-video DVDs.

The film is presented in anamorphic widescreen and is letterboxed at 1.85:1. The video image is very clear, showing few defects from the source print and hardly any grain. ’Witchouse: Blood Coven’ was shot on 35mm film and the money spent on this process comes through in the digital transfer. Director J.R. Bookwalter (of ’The Dead Next Door’ fame) has used a great deal of blue lighting effects in the film and these cool hues come across wonderfully on the DVD.
The audio on the DVD is a Dolby Digital 5.1 mix, which is put to good use. While the soundfield achieved by this mix is only average, there is good use of the rear speakers to help create tension in the film. The only flaw in the presentation comes when video footage is used in the movie. At those points in the film, the volume drops off and one must scramble for the volume control in order to hear the dialogue.

This DVD is packed to the rim with special features and the sheer quantity of extras rivals those DVDs of the major studios. First we have an audio commentary with director/editor J.R. Bookwalter, and stars Andrew Prine and Ariauna Albright. The trio talks throughout the feature discussing the pressures of making a low-budget feature and the novelty of filming in Romania. Speaking of Romania, Bookwalter shot a 30-minute video diary while on location entitled ’Bucharest or Bust!: A Tour of Romania’, that is also part of the DVD. On top of that, there is another long feature called ’Dispelling the Illusions: The Making of Witchouse: Blood Coven’, which offers a great deal of footage from the set of the film, as well as interviews with the principal filmmakers and actors. This in-depth feature covers the entire history of the film. Bookwalter also provides a video introduction to the film and serves up a documentary about his film ’The Dead Next Door’ entitled ’15 Years in 15 Minutes.’ There is a also a reel of trailers from Bookwalter’s film which has optional commentary by the director. As if all of that weren’t enough, we are also treated to mored standard DVD extra fare, such as talent files and outtake reels. Full Moon has included the trailer for ’Witchouse: Blood Coven’, as well as a series of bonus trailers and two music videos.

As for the film itself (yes, there’s also a movie on the DVD!),’Witchouse: Blood Coven’ is an intriguing mixture of ’The Blair Witch Project’, ’The Fog’, ’Night of the Demons 2’ and ’Jurassic Park’. (I’m not making this up.) A group of students from Boston University (I can only assume that this is the satellite campus in Bucharest), accompany their professor to a town called Covington, which is infamous for its witch trials. They must investigate four bodies which have recently been unearthed. The bodies turn out to belong to four witches who are out for vengeance. J.R. Bookwalter gets a lot of mileage out of this premise, mostly through his use of inventive camerawork and editing. The film is well-paced and, I must admit, the ending is truly shocking. ’Witchouse: Blood Coven’ is a fun little movie that is the crowning touch to a great overall DVD package. I’m looking forward to more of these ’Lunar Editions.’