Witch Hunt (1994)

(On Cable TV, August 2013) This quasi-sequel to 1991’s Cast a Deadly Spell brings us back to an alternate 1950s Los Angeles suddenly awash in magic, but nearly everything else has changed: The noir aesthetics have given their place to bright Hollywood glam, the lead Private Investigator role is now played by Dennis Hopper and the tone of the film shifts from criminal horror to social commentary.  Recasting McCarthyism as literal persecution of witches, Witch Hunt does get to be a bit too obvious at times.  Still, there are a few things to like here and there despite the limited budget, including the background details and emphasis on a glamorous era for Hollywood.  Hopper isn’t too bad as the lead, while Julian Sands is arresting as an evil magician and Penelope Ann Miller has an eye-catching role as a threatened starlet.  The ending is a bit weak and obvious in its hurry to denounce witch-hunting for political gains, but the real fun of the film comes before then.

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