Nonetheless, it does provide an opportunity to see something heretofore unknown, and in my case it was Teen Witch (1989), a selection readily available from Netflix. They sent a very clean and shiny disc in mint condition…as if it had never been touched or rented before. A little voice inside said, “uh-oh.”
A comedy about a girl unlocking dormant magical powers on her sixteenth birthday, Teen Witch is basic Cinderella fluff, and not a little reminiscent of what you’d find on the Disney channel. With its observations of the white middleclass yield to rap music, big hair and Yuppie pep (or is it Preppie yup?), the film may comfort anyone hankering for ‘80s nostalgia. But the wafer-thin scenario of a virginal ‘plain Jane’ honors student (the pretty Robyn Lively saddled with frizzy coif and frumpy wardrobe) transformed into a superficial, sexed-up prom queen is as pedestrian as the limp spells she casts.
Not for lack of trying. Its choreographed musical numbers indicate that someone at least attempted to liven things up. The cast of slender and attractive teens with their impeccably styled hair are a notch above the talent usually found slumming in lowbrow teen comedy. Among the scattered (and scatterbrained) adults, they’ve included Dick Sargent, the second Darren Stevens from TV’s Bewitched; and ‘70s game show regular Marcia Wallace, who resembles Peter Cushing after a botched sex change. Zelda Rubenstein, the “go into the light” dwarf from Poltergeist, counsels Teen Witch Lively in the not-so black arts.
Director Dorian Walker shows little aptitude for the material. (Dorian’s previous accomplishment was the Judd Nelson comedy, The Last American Preppie in 1984.) Otherwise the only familiar name among the crew is Vernon Zimmerman, who co-wrote the screenplay (with Robin Menken) some years following his erratic tenure in exploitation pictures. After directing Lemon Hearts (1962; starring Taylor Mead), Zimmerman produced and directed Deadhead Miles (1972) from a script by Terrence Malick. He had a brief association with Roger Corman, writing and directing Unholy Rollers (1972), an amusing women’s roller derby movie featuring one-time B-Queen and Playboy Playmate Claudia Jennings. (One of its editors was Martin Scorsese.) Zimmerman’s peak came with Fade to Black (1980), a somber study of deranged movie fandom which he wrote and directed. It’s a pack of flicks I wouldn’t be at all surprised to find reviewed elsewhere in this Blogathon.