Witchslayer Gretl (2012)
I love getting these early screeners from the SyFy channel. I don’t mean this in a sarcastic way at all … I really enjoy getting these early screeners. Usually the versions I get are still in post-production and still have work to do on the f/x and the sound (i.e., syncing the dialogue to the people speaking). But this time around I got a screener that wasn’t even sure about its own title!! The DVD I was sent had WITCHSLAYER GRETL on it but when the title came on screen during the opening credits it just said GRETL. So I looked it up on IMDb.com and found a third title for it: GRETL: WITCH HUNTER. So why am I going with this third title? Why the hell not!! Putting aside the issue with the title, what we’re really looking for in this review is whether GRETL: WITCH HUNTER, premiering this Saturday, February 25, 2012 at 9PM (ET/PT), is any good. Well is it?
The title, GRETL: WITCH HUNTER, is a little inaccurate. Gretl isn’t the witch hunter here; her brother Hansel (Paul McGillion) is. Hansel, you see, was so traumatized by he and his sister’s encounter with the evil witch when young that he’s devoted his entire life to hunting and killing all witches (and warlocks for that matter). The witch took his sister’s life and he’s been hunting down the Queen Witch to exact revenge and to stop her from becoming immortal and all-powerful. The Queen Witch, you see, goes around kidnapping women all over the countryside who have “witch power” but don’t know it. She takes them and casts a spell over them so they are enthralled to her and make her more powerful. As the film opens, Hansel and his I-want-her-to-be-cute-but-she’s-really-not partner, Lara (Sarain Boylan), stop the Queen’s thugs, lead by the countries only warlock, Abyss (Jefferson Brown), as they attempt to kidnap Ehren (Emilie Ullerup). Ehren doesn’t know it but she’s an extremely powerful witch with powers the Queen needs for her ultimate plan. And the plan is … wait a minute … I’m not sure. I think she just wants to be the most powerful witch in the kingdom. Right? Aahhh whatever!!
So Hansel, Lara, and Erhen (who loses her dad, Frank J. Zupancic, to the warlock) team up to hunt down Abyss and the queen witch. What could possibly go wrong? I won’t keep you wondering any more, but GRETL: WITCH HUNTER has a lot of problems with it. Besides McGillion, of SANCTUARY and STARGATE: ATLANTIS fame, the acting in this one is pretty over the top. Sarain Boylan also does a pretty solid job but the rest of the cast are acting at a made-for-TV-movie level. In fact, the entire production felt more like the pilot episode of an already cancelled pilot. Add to this a script with an identity crisis and you’ll be scratching your head a lot. This seems to take place in the age of Dungeons and Dragons, but Lara and Hansel have this Bluetooth-like device they use to talk to each other over long distances. Maybe in this film THE TWO TOWERS are actually cell phone towers? And all of Hansel’s witch-fighting weapons are pretty lame. There’s a lightning whip, a boomerang-like throwing knife straight outta KRULL, and some magic-sensing goggles they ripped right off of Lt. Commander Geordi La Forge’s face!!
Then for good measure throw in some unclear motives for why everyone is doing what they’re doing. Writer Brook Durham (the writer of other such SyFy epics, RED: WEREWOLF HUNTER, RIDDLES OF THE SPHINX, and SHOWDOWN AT AREA 51) must have cranked this one out pretty fast. But despite all the eye-rolling moments I also found myself, god help me, enjoying this one. GRETL: WITCH HUNTER definitely falls in to the so-bad-its-good category. The girls all have perms and wear make up; all the girls in the kingdom are twenty-something pieces of ass; and it seems every female has ‘witch powers.’ If you come across a young, sexy, big-tittied maiden in this kingdom I guarantee she has ‘witch power’ and doesn’t know it (maybe that’s what’s growing all those saline-filled titties?).
The plot moves along in a very predictable manner until Hansel finally gets his face to face with the queen witch only to find out its … Shannen Doherty. Now it’s a party!! I’m not gonna give away the twist here, but i watched this one with my 3 and 6 year olds and they both figured it out long before the twist was revealed. No, this one’s not gonna win any awards, but it is fun and you could make a pretty good drinking game out of it. Every time you see something modern in the film or a cast member says something modern, ya gotta drink a shot. Trust me, you’ll need a few bottles.
Since the Hollywood big budget film, HANSEL AND GRETEL: WITCH HUNTERS, got pushed back to a January 2013 release date, GRETL: WITCH HUNTER might tide you over. It’s silly, has huge plot holes, doesn’t always make sense, and doesn’t have a “directed by” credit attached to it!! That’s right; as of writing this review, nowhere on the DVD or on IMDb does anyone wanna claim they directed this one. That’s always a bad sign!! But at least GRETL: WITCH HUNTER isn’t trying to be something it isn’t. This is a SyFy Original through and through and it knows it. This is worth checking out for its so-bad-its-good appeal and for it’s potential to get you really drunk. Look for this one this Saturday, February 25, 2012 at 9PM (ET/PT).
Plot: 2.5 out of 5 stars
Gore: 1 out of 10 skulls
Zombie Mayhem: 0 out of 5 brains
Reviewed by Scott Shoyer