Night Tide it isn’t, but I like this cheapo TV movie with Dennis Hopper as hardboiled private dick H. Phillip Lovecraft. In Witch Hunt, the sequel to Cast A Deadly Spell, Hopper takes over the role from Fred Ward, and Paul Schrader relieves Martin Campbell of the director’s chair.
Both early nineties HBO features are set in a post-WWII Hollywood where everyone dabbles in black magic—the Portuguese title of Witch Hunt is Ilusões Satânicas, “Satanic Illusions”—and all dirty work is left to gnomes, sylphs, undines and salamanders.
Eric Bogosian plays Senator Larson Crockett, a McCarthyite anti-magic crusader whose voice emanates from every TV and radio, speechifying about the threat the dark arts pose to the American way of life. When the actress Kim Hudson (Penelope Ann Miller) hires Lovecraft to investigate her husband, the case draws them toward some mass-movement jingoistic witchery that makes Hollywood look sweet.
The score is Twin Peaks-y jazz by Angelo Badalamenti. One scene echoes Dean Stockwell’s performance of “In Dreams” from Blue Velvet, only this time it’s Lypsinka miming “I Put A Spell on You” as Hopper looks on with pain and delight.
Though the story culminates in a witch-burning at an “America first”-type rally, by far the scariest thing here is Julian Sands’ Irish accent.
The picture of the VHS rip below is fuzzy, but at present Witch Hunt is not easy to see; this Canadian pay service appears to stream it.