The Merits of Sin: Witchdoctor of the Living Dead (1985) (Nigeria)

There’s only so much one can say about Nigerian horror flicks to the uninitiated without eventually coming off like a lunatic with horrible tastes in film. I’m not saying that I’m not that, I’m just saying that the Nollywood anti-cinema is better experienced than read about. Witchdoctor hit the scene well before the film output of this special little section of the world hit its stride. Everything for which Nollywood would come to be infamous is present and accounted for. “Dirt cheap budgets” doesn’t even begin to express just how shoddy the whole affair is, but that’s just part of the charm.

Let’s get weird

A small village is in a pretty bad way. The local witchdoctor is not only adept at raising the dead, but can transform into a goat and destroy the villager’s crops. His intimidation is working on nearly everyone except for a local man of the lord. As things get progressively worse (two people are murdered by a rubber snake: in one instance it shoots out of a skeletal zombie’s mouth and kills the cab driver who picked him up and in the other it enters a woman while she’s urinating and emerges from her mouth) the reverend calls in the help of a detective to deal with the power mad sorcerer.

How not to poop

Not one to sit back and watch his evil machinations go down the shitter, the witchdoctor fights back with his army of the living dead and a couple curses. Will good overcome evil? Will there be no night photography due to shitty equipment? Will your head explode from a schizophrenic score? The answer is a resounding “what the fuck did I just watch?!”

Witchdoctor blues

As I said earlier, all of the conventions are present and accounted for. The special effects with an emphasis on special, music cues that drop abruptly to make room for dialogue, music stolen from other films, the complete cast having the acting chops of a sentient potato, scenes that go on far longer than they should and heavy leaning towards Christian propaganda. I’m not complaining, these are the reasons I spent years tracking down these weirdo films. I find it comfortable that trash knows no boundaries and has no preference for any region of the world. We’re all bizarre weirdos with a universal language of horror…or some shit like that.

Universal language

If the idea of a dirt cheap remake of Lucio Fulci’s Zombi (even steals some of the score) gets your horror infused nether regions going, then you are in good company here. Come and see…come and see… 9/10

A warning to the curious: as a fan of animals I always feel the need to make anyone aware of violence towards ’em in flicks. I’ve swam long enough in the world cinema pond to be able to stomach it and recognize that cultures are different and what shocks some means very little in other necks of the woods. So, there is a scene where a goat is taken down with arrows and has its head nearly decapitated with a machete. The camera does not shy away from it. Just making it known.


2 thoughts on “The Merits of Sin: Witchdoctor of the Living Dead (1985) (Nigeria)

    1. Thank you. As long as I’m reviewing I’ll be tracking down as many weirdo titles as I can. Got one from Madagascar coming up in the near future

      Liked by 1 person

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