13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
on December 18, 2012
When Jeff Ducker (Chris Magorian) and Preston Oakley (Gary-Kayi Fletcher), a pair of friends who run their own micro-brewery, accidentally run over a black cat that attempts to cross their paths, they go to the owners home with the best of intentions. Unfortunately for them, the animal belonged to a coven of witches, and the eldest witch, Brynn (Helenmary Ball), doesn't take kindly to the boys' peace offering of beer. She curses their freshly brewed batch of Slacker Lager, proclaiming "After you drink that beer, liver damage is going to be the least of your problems!"
The superstitious Jeff wants nothing to do with the supposedly cursed ale, but Preston insists that they sell it as planned. They deliver cases to local bars, liquor stores, friends and more. As the characters drink the alcohol, they drop like flies after suffering awful deaths. Witch's Brew is something like a (slightly) less bizarre version of Street Trash, although it's just as fun on most accounts.
I don't want to spoil any of the many death scenes, but I will say that they are equal parts amusing and grotesque. The characters don't just drop dead; they each go in their own unique way, usually related to a personality quirk. For example, the first victim of the cursed beer is Sergeant Walker, a wheelchair-bound homeless man whose paraplegic legs kick himself to death.
The film could be used as a strong argument against using CGI over practical effects on a small production. Special effects makeup artists Kaleigh Brown and Jason M. Koch and crew member John Laveck had their work cut out for them, as the death scenes are the focal point of the picture. In particular, the second act of the film essentially acts as a showcase for their creations. Their hard work paid off; the effects are nothing short of excellent for a film of this budget.
In fact, the entire production looks great for a little independent effort. It's well shot, well lit, well edited and well directed. The competent technical aspects give the film the illusion that it was made for a higher budget. Writer/director Chris LaMartina has followed up his slasher throwback President's Day with another impressive feature. Indie filmmakers take note: Witch's Brew is low budget horror filmmaking done right. A sweet treat for horror junkies lovingly crafted by fellow fans of the genre.
Review from HorrorNews.net
on November 7, 2015
WARNING MAJOR SPOILERS: Here's a fun, gory little low-budget horror comedy film funded by the public through internet financing site Kickstarter. If all publicly-funded horror films were this enjoyable, I would gladly contribute to one, but I have seen my fair share of awful publicly-funded films to make me think too hard and beg off, but if the director of this film asked for money to make another film, I would be happy to open my wallet. I wouldn't even ask to have my name shown at the end credits (This film has the names of everyone who contributed to the film and the list of names is a long one.). I generally think that filmmakers should find their own way to make films like the old days, but we live in a new technological age and everyone has to keep up with it. Who am I to tell Joe Schmo not to contribute to a film? If they have the money to spare, why not? Back in the old days it was a tax write-off for doctors and other professionals who helped fund a film, but today it's the thrill to see your name on a film (and maybe get some swag in the process, depending on how much you contribute). With that out of my system, let's get to the film: It begins with pretty witch Dolores (Seregon O'Dassey) concocting some kind of potion in a cauldron, when her doorbell rings. It's a young boy who is going door-to-door selling glasses of lemonade for $1.00 a glass. Dolores buys a glass, takes a sip and spits it out is disgust. The boy pops out of the bushes and yells, "It's my piss, bitch!" and then begins to burn some ants with a magnifying glass. Suddenly, he is surrounded by a coven of witches, led by the older Brynn (Helenmary Ball), where one witch actually bears big hairy moles on her chin and nose! The boy's skin then breaks out in disgusting pulsating boils (using good, old-fashioned bladder effects. There is only one use of CGI in this entire film and it's no big deal) and his hands catch fire, while the witches cackle as the opening credits begin (music also by the director), where we see two young guys, Jeff Drucker (Chris Magorian) and Preston Oakley (Gary-Kayi Fletcher) making their own brand of beer in their micro-brewery, called "Slacker Lager". They sell their limited amount of beer to local parties, liquor stores and bars, where the people love it. On this day, the very superstitious Jeff breaks a mirror while trying to turn off his alarm clock and when Preston and him drive to make their beer deliveries, they accidentally hit a black cat crossing the road, nearly severing it in half (nothing is hidden from the camera, including the cat's innards spilled on the pavement). The cat has a collar with an address on it, so a concerned Jeff makes Preston drive to the address. It turns out to be the witches' house and the black cat was actually a transformed Dolores, so an angry Brynn curses their boxes of brew, telling them, "If you drink that beer, liver damage will be the least of your problems!" Jeff takes the curse seriously, because his cheating girlfriend Zoe (Megan Rippy) is a practicing witch and runs a small store called "The Witch Is In", which sells voodoo dolls, candles and potions. Preston, on the other hand, just laughs it off, and they drive to make their next delivery, which is to the overweight Cosmo (Shawn C. Phillips; ASSAULT OF THE SASQUATCH - 2009; GIRLS GONE DEAD - 2012), who is having a big party at his house that night. Meanwhile, the witches are in a big quandary, as they need another witch to complete their coven before they perform an important sacrificial ritual that night. If they don't perform the ritual with a complete coven of 13 witches, the sacrifice won't work and they will all die. Cosmo gives a bottle of beer to a wheelchair-bound veteran and when he drinks it, his useless legs and feet then kick him in the face until he is dead (Why has no one ever thought of this before? Sure, it's in bad taste, but it is funny as hell.). Our pair of brewers than sell a case to a liquor store, where the owner drinks a bottle (he replaces the beer he drank from the bottle with water so he can resell it!) and then gets and urgent desire to run to the bathroom, where he craps out his intestines through his posterior and spits blood against the wall. Jeff is still worried about the curse put on their brew, so they decide to test it on the local drunk Bernie (Michael Breecher), where nothing happens, so they bring him along with them while Jeff visits Zoe. Preston doesn't believe in black magic, so Zoe makes a cloth voodoo doll with his name on it and tells Preston to stick a pin in the doll's head. Preston's nose immediately bleeds, but Preston says bloody noses are common with people. When Jeff tells Zoe what happened with the cat and where he took it, she immediately goes into a panic (she slams the voodoo doll on the counter by the head and Preston's head twitches!) and tells Preston to find all the beer and get rid of it, while she and Jeff go to the witches' house to try and smooth things over. The witches kidnap two teenage soccer girls for their sacrifice that night (I guess they are virgins) and bring them home and tie them up. Two skateboarding punks drink bottles of the brew and one goes into the woods to take a leak, where vines entangle him, turning him into a giant bush. The other skateboarder tags a wall with a spray paint can, only for it to turn into a pentagram, as two big demon hands grab him by the shoulders and drag him down to Hell. Preston, who still doesn't believe in Black Magic, continues to make the deliveries (with Bernie still in the back seat). The county coroner, Frank (low-budget legend George Stover; BLOOD MASSACRE - 1988), is at the liquor store and when police officer Rebecca Harrington (Kendra North) looks at the body and asks him if it was murder, Frank says, "Either that or it's the worst case of the s**ts I have ever seen!" He also warns police officer Larry Primrose (Joe Ripple; The director of HARVESTERS , STAKES , SEALED FATES  and other SOV atrocities), who is always picking his nose, not to throw his boogers on his crime scene. When Zoe and Jeff arrive at the witches' house, Brynn lies about the cursed beer and says it was all a joke, but she notices something special about Zoe and invites her to join her "nature circle". Zoe accepts, gives Jeff the keys to her car and tells him to go home. More horrendous deaths happen to people who drink the brew, like a photographer's model who drinks a bottle in the bathroom and watches as her face melts and her breasts sag down to her stomach in the mirror. The photographer enters the bathroom and can only see the model from her back, so he decides to do her from behind, only to have his manhood ripped-off (nothing is left to the imagination). Zoe discovers the soccer girls tied-up in the house, but her head is on the receiving end of a frying pan wielded by Brynn and she is knocked-out. Jeff returns home and gives his verbally abusive father the last bottle of brew he has (he now believes it was all a joke), only to discover that after his father has drank the beer, his eyes turn a glowing white and he tries to kill his son, but Jeff pushes him down and his father is impaled by a fireplace poker. A patron at a bar owned by Bruce Bartolli (Ryan Thomas (DEADLANDS 2: TRAPPED - 2008; V/H/S/2 - 2013) drinks a bottle of the cursed brew and turns into a werewolf (the werewolf's glowing eyes were the only digital effects in the movie), chowing down on another patron who refused to share the bowl of beer nuts with him a few minutes earlier. He traps Bruce in the bathroom, Bruce only armed with an aluminum bat with the words "Hi Yo Silver" written on the top of the bat. Zoe is indoctrinated into the coven, while Jeff and Preston (who now believes after seeing Jeff's father's dead body) try to retrieve all the delivered brew. To say they are unsuccessful is an understatement. A Frank Sinatra impersonator (Ron LaMartina, who I believe is the director's father) sings to a crowd of people in a bar who are already dead from drinking the brew. The impersonator drinks a bottle of the brew and dissolves into a pile of green goo (or, as I call it, "Hoboken's Revenge"). A drunk patron enters Bruce's bar, only to have his face graphically slashed by the werewolf. Jeff and Preston go to the places they delivered their beer to, only to find gory deaths in their wake. Officers Jessica and Larry are very busy investigating all the deaths in their town, while Bruce shoves his baseball bat down the werewolf's throat, killing it (Bruce says to Jeff and Preston, "He was my best customer and he tried to eat me!"). The cops show up at the Sinatra Bar, only to discover everyone dead and a burnt dismembered human hand on the bar holding a bottle of Slacker Lager. Larry (who is still picking his nose, digging in deep and mining for nose gold) pours some of the Slacker Lager on a piece of wood in his patrol car and it turns into a giant green booger that rips his face off (Oh, the irony!). Jeff, Preston, Bruce and Brian head to Cosmo's party where, a short time earlier, Cosmo was getting a personal dance from one of his female guests in his bedroom. One of the party guys enters the bedroom and sees Cosmo eating the innards of the girl, runs out to the party and tells the rest of them, "Cosmo is eating the girl he is with!", to which one of the party boys says, "All right bro!" A girl in the bathroom drinks a bottle of brew and her hair starts growing rapidly, wrapping itself around her body, turning her into a hair mummy. Some of the guys play beer pong and it turns serious when one of the ping pong balls turns out to be an eye from one of the party guests playing the game. Another party guest's nose grows like Pinocchio and then snaps off, leaving a bloody hole on his face. By the time Frank the Coroner and the police make it to Cosmo's house. it's a virtual bloodbath and Cosmo has finished eating the girl, so he begins eating himself, starting with his fingers. Frank sees a living girl at the party who has no mouth and says, "Let me get you a pen." Jeff convinces police officer Rebecca to come with him, Preston, Bruce and Brian to the witches' house to save Zoe and when they get there, Rebecca finds a magnifying glass in the front yard that belongs to her son (the same boy the witches killed in the beginning of the film). The witches are in the back yard performing a ritual with the two soccer girls tied up in the middle of their circle. Zoe has gone to the dark side, as she twists the head on Preston's voodoo doll and we see Preston's head do a 180° turn. She then pulls and arm and a leg off the doll and the same thing happens to Preston. He never stood a chance. Zoe turns her attention to Jeff, but Bruce kills her with his bat (Bruce tells Jeff, "I think that you can do better."). Rebecca shoots most of the other witches in the head (Jeff says, "Hey, one of them was my Guidance Counselor!"), but it takes a drunk Brian to kill Brynn, as he runs her over with the car ("Hey, anyone need a ride?"). Zoe turns out to not be quite so dead, so Jess slits her throat. The witch with the hairy moles kills Bruce with an ivory horn, but Jess gets his revenge when he pulls the horn from Bruce's body and impales the witch bitch on the top of her head, just before she is about to kill Rebecca. Brian (who was immune from the curse because he is never sober) says, "I need a drink!" and the film ends. While this film is nothing but a showcase for gory physical effects and part of the story line may remind you of aspects of STREET TRASH (1987), one man auteur, director/screenwriter/editor/music composer/co-producer Chris LaMartina (BOOK OF LORE - 2007; PRESIDENT'S DAY - 2010; CALL GIRL OF CTHULHU - 2014, and others), keeps things moving at a quick pace and it will remind you of those gore films from the 80's, which is a good thing. There are also some terrific one-liners, especially by George Stover in his two scenes, but everyone gets a chance to shine and the acting is not bad at all. Sometimes, the film's low-budget roots show through (such as Bruce's bar only having two customers and the cases of brew have "Slacker Lager" written on them with black magic marker), but this is an inventive horror comedy (gore effects supplied by Kaleigh Browm and Jason M. Koch) that will keep your attention from beginning to end. Now this is what Kickstarter is all about! Low-budget vets George Stover (who worked with John Waters and the late Don Dohler), fast-rising actor Shawn C. Phillips (who has 92 acting credits since 2008!) and the equally fast-rising Ryan Thomas (who also cast this film) were all given Associate Producer credits. Don't get me wrong, this film is nothing ground-breaking, but it is a perfectly fine way to spend 87 minutes of your life. Filmed in the Summer of 2010, but not released on DVD until 2012. I am happy that physical effects are making a comeback in a very big way. It is music to my ears. Filmed in Baltimore, Maryland. Also starring Lauren Lakis, Virginia House, Troy Jennings, Josh Davidson, Ruby Larocca (FACES OF SCHLOCK - 2009; a four story anthology film in which Chris LaMartina directed an episode), Charlie Dreizen, Corey Holland, Lee Armstrong and A.J. Hyde. A Media Blasters DVD Release through their sub-label Guilty Pleasures. Not Rated.