Thursday, June 19, 2014

The Ouija Files: 'Witchboard' & Ouija-stitions

Editor's Note: Bob Murch is the world's foremost authority on Ouija and spirit boards. His full bio is below but he joins us today to uncover his recent discoveries about the origin of the people behind the board.


Every now and then a movie comes along that does more than make you laugh, cry or simply scare the crap out of you; one that gives you direction and calls to you. For me, that movie was Kevin Tenney’s "Witchboard."

No joke. No single movie affected me the way "Witchboard" has. It originally debuted in selected theaters nearly 30 years ago in  December 1986, and had its wide release in 1987. Since then it has become an '80s cult classic and one of the best-known B-horror movies out there. It also spawned two sequels, “Witchboard 2: The Devil’s Doorway” and “Witchboard 3: The Possession.”

Kevin Tenney made his mark as a visionary and pioneer by being the first to cast the board as the main character. Moreover, the 80s hair, Tawney Kitaen and Stephen Nichols (Patch from "Days of Our Live") created the movie that inspired me to collect and research the Mystifying Oracle. In fact, I own the board used in the third movie (shown here).

So what's the big deal about "Witchboard"? Tenney skillfully mixed urban legends and superstitions
creating what we affectionately call today, Ouijastitions. Only "The Exorcist" could rival "Witchboard"’s impact on Ouija and its perception in pop culture.

Are you afraid to place your hands on Ouija’s planchette and let the spirit move you? Have you ever heard that Ouija is the combination of the French words for yes “Oui” and German word “Ja?” What about the one that if you play the board by yourself, you risk falling into “progressive entrapment?” Maybe you heard that Ouija boards date back to 540 BC and were used by Pythagoras?

If you pointed to "yes" for any of these, that’s because of "Witchboard."

That doesn’t mean any of the above isn't true (or that it is); just that a simple movie like "Witchboard" can blur the lines between fact and belief. Now that’s real influence.

"Witchboard" was finally released on DVD by Anchor Bay Films in 2004 but quickly disappeared from the shelves. Lucky for us, Scream Factory re-released it as a DVD/Blu-ray earlier this year and is streaming at the "online drive-in" Friday, June 20, as part of its "Summer Of Fear" series.

Whether you believe that Ouija boards open a doorway to the other side or not, there’s no debating this: "Witchboard"'s big hair, glasses and dated wardrobe will scare the fashion sense right out of you and make you glad we all escaped the '80s alive.

If you haven’t seen "Witchboard" before, you’re missing out on one of the most influential films in paranormal pop culture. If you haven’t seen it in a long time then here’s your chance.

Will streaming "Witchboard" over the Internet open a portal we can’t close? I’m more worried it might inspire some 1980s trends to make a come back. And that would be horrific! “TTFN” (ta ta for now)

ROBERT MURCH is the world’s foremost collector, historian and expert on Ouija and talking boards. His bizarre relationship with Ouija began after watching the movie Witchboard in 1986, a century after the talking board made its debut. Murch purchased his first antique Ouija board in 1992, and became obsessed with unraveling the mystery of its origins. Since then he’s devoted his life to researching the history of the Ouija board and its founders, with Murch often traveling the world to track down descendants of all those involved with the introduction of the Mystifying Oracle.

Murch showcases his research and knowledge on his websites and the upcoming, which together provide the most in-depth Ouija history sites ever created. Murch often collaborates with Hasbro (producers of the Ouija board today) and on various films. He has also consulted on or appeared in numerous TV programs featuring Ouija and The Smithsonian Magazine consulted Bob for a popular article on Ouija boards and featured him and his research on the topic. He is currently collaborating with Brandon Hodge to create the definitive history of spirit communication devices and serves as the Chairman of the Board for the Talking Board Historical Society Inc., which he founded. Find him on Facebook, and Twitter @TalkingBoards