SLASHER MONTH: Witchboard (1986)

Back before Hasbro — who now owns Parker Brothers — bought the rights to Ouija and turned it into a movie, it was the kind of game that inspired the possession in The Exorcist as well as turning up in films like Don’t Panic and Spookies. I was warned often as a kid to never play with it as it would unleash demons within me.

My mother would have been better off warning me about redheads — I’ve married two of them — like Tawny Kitaen, who dominated the late 80’s after her appearances in several Whitesnake videos. Those of us who stayed up way too late watching Cinemax also knew her from movies like Bachelor PartyCrystal Heart and, well, this movie.

Written and directed by Kevin S. Tenney, who also made the similar Witchtrap, this is a movie just as much about Ouija* as it is about the friendship — and enemyship — of Brandon Sincalir (Stephen Nichols, who your mom weak in the knees for when he played Patch on Days of Our Lives) and Jim Morar and their dual love for Linda Brewster (Kitaen) as it is about witchboards.

One night at a party, Brandon shows everyone how he has a friendship with a dead ten-year-old boy — not creepy at all, right? — through the divining board, which really seems to get to Linda, whose hair goes from severe to gorgeously windswept, as if she were dancing on the roof of a car*, as the movie goes on.

This movie really does have it all, and by everything I mean a punk rock psychic named Sarah “Zarabeth” Crawford (Kathleen Wilhoite, Private School) who gets her throat slashed by the real ghost Linda is talking to, who is named Carlos Malfeitor, and then tossed out a window on to a sundial.

Watching this movie through the lens of someone 34 years older than when I first saw it, I can tell you that Brandon and Jim really were the ones in love with each other and Linda is just the beard for them both. But it’s hard to quibble with a movie that comes up with the conclusion that the only way to destroy a haunted Ouija board is to shoot it as many times as possible.

You can watch this on Tubi.

*Before lawyers got involved, it was called Ouija. Despite Parker Brothers — the owners at the time — not having the rights to that name, they decided to reshoot any scenes that mentioned it by name or used one of their boards.

**Kitaen did have experience with this look, after all.

Join us as we pay tribute to the late Tawny Kitaen’s career with our exploration of her films.

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