"Superstition" is a horror movie so unbearably familiar, it inspires a peculiar sort of de'ja vu -- you wonder where you haven't seen it before. Complete with haunted house, prophetic hag, murderous half-wit and the usual assortment of hacked limbs, it's the kind of movie that's better seen in a TV rerun at home, where at least beer is handy.
When a young reverend plans to prepare an old church property for the occupancy of another minister -- an alcoholic with two nubile daughters -- he's told the place is trouble. The audience already knows as much. In the opening sequence, two youngsters are prowling on the property: one is neatly cleaved by a window acting as a guillotine; the other is decapitated, and his head explodes in an abandoned microwave (don't trust this guy with a baked potato).
The renovation continues while the reverend and the cops try to squirrel out the mystery. For a while, a cretinous caretaker is pegged for the murders, but after he's arrested, the carnage continues.
As the local Weird Sister tells the reverend, it all dates back to the 17th century, when a witch was drowned by local Catholics. In true ecumenical spirit, the reverend essays an exorcism -- brandishing a crucifix, he sets the pond on fire with gasoline.
"Superstition" is full of thematic possibilities, none of which are explored -- it's full of preachers, yet the horror is never linked with the perils of religion, or of the decay of the family, or even teen-age promiscuity (the usual villain). So what's left are the makeup effects, which are pretty cheesy.
The movie's high point comes when a preacher enters a room where carpenters are working. A rotary blade spins from its axle, skitters across the floor and plunges into the preacher, splattering the room like a bicycle wheel in the mud. This isn't cinema, exactly, but it's something new in a movie filled with old saws.
Superstition, at area theaters, is rated R and contains graphic violence.