Saturday , June 15 2024
"A Psychic Freak-Out in Trans-Etheric Vision" from the early 1970s.

Movie Review: Psyched By the 4D Witch

Some flicks – as most devotees of psychotronic cinema know – are so removed from mundane constraints like competent moviemaking that to watch 'em is like hotwiring yourself into someone's eighteenth nervous breakdown.

One such inadvertent postcard from the edge is the 1972 horror sexfilm, Psyched by the 4D Witch, a startling piece of cut-and-paste psychedelic ineptitude that can presently be seen as the bottom half of a DVD double bill with Herschel Gordon Lewis and William Rebane's MST3000 fodder Monster A-Go Go, courtesy the obsessive cheeseheads at Something Weird Video.

The sole feature credited to the clearly pseudonymous Victor Luminera, Psyched tells the non-story of a pimply-nosed junior college student named Cindy (Margo), who accidentally conjures up the spirit of a vengeful witch named Abigail (the delightfully named Esoterica) by basically sitting on the floor of her apartment nekkid and waving a couple candles around.

Abigail, who was once put to death in Salem for engaging in "sexual witchcraft," utilizes Cindy as a vessel for her own gratification. Inhabiting the fourth dimension with a "host of astral demons" who look like they wandered in from a Kenneth Anger short, the witch prods the virginal (so virginal she’s never even had an orgasm while masturbating) Cindy into a series of sexual fantasy adventures that grow progressively more debauched.

Duped Cindy agrees to indulge in these dream adventures because Abigail assures her she'll remain pure (our heroine's response – "I'll still remain a virgin for my daddy!" – is profoundly disturbing), but it soon becomes clear that these sexual adventures are also having an effect on the real world. Her best friend Jan (Sandra Lane), forced to copulate with a snake on the astral plane [insert not-so-topical joke here] while Cindy helplessly watches, ends up in a coma. When our heroine fights back against the mind-controlling sorceress, Abigail retaliates by turning the girl's brother Mark (Tom Yerian) into a "sex vampire" with awkwardly protruding fangs.

Told entirely in voiceover by a trio of non-actors (poor Margo stumbles over her lines more than once), Psyched combines city travelogue footage, scenes from soft-core sex flicks (all you see are head shots of characters in the throes of poorly acted sexual ecstasy and a lot of bare breasts) with shots and overlays that look like a student attempt at recreating a sixties-era underground feature.

Sinisterly masked creatures regularly loom into the camera like they were auditioning for the orgy scenes in Eyes Wide Shut; a snake puppet bobbles in and out of the frame; scratched film and solarized light shows are used to suggest sexual arousal and mind-blowing climax – all very faux trippy. (More than one character makes reference to this being "just like an LSD trip.") Stock classical music like "Bolero" and "Night on Bald Mountain" is frequently used to clumsily ratchet up the drama – at one point, we hear ominous orchestration as the camera shows a dog watching ducks in a pond – like some Music Appreciation Class from Hell. Even cooler is the movie's garagey theme song, which gets repeated so often that it's impossible to get out of your head afterwards. (Why haven't the Cramps ever recorded this baby?)

Like H.G. Lewis' ineptly made kidsflick, Jimmy, the Boy Wonder, Victor Luminera's masterwork appears to have been sloppily pasted together from several uncompleted movies: the tacked-on "sex vampire" subplot in the film's final third has no real connection to what we've seen before – and is so poorly night-filmed that we can barely see what's taking place, anyway. The voiceover dialog used to limply tie things together is hysterically clunky ("My heart pounded even faster as I watched what ensued," chirpy-voiced Cindy tells us as her sex vamp brother starts foaming at the mouth) and the music is so raggedly inserted that it often cuts off mid-note. "Could this really be happening?" a voiceover asks in full Shatnerian mode. "Or is it all a nightmare… I'm dreaming?" I'm guessing the movie theater audience had pretty much the same question back in 1972.

Astral slut Cindy ultimately escapes the 4D Witch (or does she?) by experiencing a "real flesh-and-blood climax" (or does she?) at hands of her best friend's psychiatrist father, who perishes (or does he?) as the two come together (or do they?) Lady Chatterley-style. "If my daddy could only see me now!" Cindy squeaks in voiceover, making us all really wonder about the never-seen old man.

The movie ends with an ominous warning from Abby the Witch. The etheric dimension is real, she states, and you out there in the audience might be her next victim.

"Not me," most of the audience thinks. "I've had an orgasm once!"

About Bill Sherman

Bill Sherman is a Books editor for Blogcritics. With his lovely wife Rebecca Fox, he has co-authored a light-hearted fat acceptance romance entitled Measure By Measure.

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