Witchboard Director on How to Exploit the Satanic Panic

Jason chats with Kevin Tenney, director of the 1986 cult film Witchboard which comes to the ARROW platform, available to subscribers in the US, Canada, and the United Kingdom. As Tenney discusses, Witchboard was perfectly timed to take advantage of the early-to-mid-80s American cultural fascination with the occult and "Satanism," so that oracular toys like the Ouija board were familiar to everyone. This "Satanic Panic" amounted to free advertising for a movie about Ouija boards. The problem was that once Tenney realized that he'd created the first Ouija horror film, he had to sweat bullets over whether another one would come out before his did.

Castle Talk logo and Witchboard poster used with permission.
Castle Talk logo and Witchboard poster used with permission.

Witchboard concerns a trio of friends whose lives are turned upside down by their use of an Ouija board to contact the dead.

The director also chats about the cast of the film, which was his directorial debut. He had a string of good luck: star Tawny Kitaen became a music video star between filming and the movie's release. And lead Stephen Nichols, an unknown when he was cast, had become a breakout star of Days of our Lives by the time the movie came out. The result was a wide release for Witchboard, which became a cult hit that holds up well today.

 

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Jason Henderson is the host of the Castle of Horror and Castle Talk Podcasts, the editor of the "Castle of Horror Anthology" series, of which the newest Volume is Thinly Veiled: the '70s, a collection of horror stories based on 70s TV and movies. He is the author of The Serpent's Nest: Young Captain Nemo from Macmillan Children's Books. His new horror series "Surf Mystic," under the pseudonym Peyton Douglas, debuted with the novel Night of the Book Man in 2020.

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About Jason Henderson

Jason Henderson, author of the Young Captain Nemo (Macmillan Children's) and Alex Van Helsing (HarperTeen) series, earned his BA from University of Dallas in 1993 and his JD from Catholic University of America, Columbus School of Law in Washington, D.C., in 1996. His popular podcasts “Castle Talk” and “Castle of Horror” feature interviews and discussion panels made up of best-selling writers and artists from all genres. Henderson lives in Colorado with his wife and two daughters.
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