|Written by||Joseph Dougherty|
|Directed by||Paul Schrader|
|Music by||Angelo Badalamenti|
|Country of origin||United States|
|Executive producer||Joseph Dougherty (co-executive producer)|
|Running time||100 minutes|
Witch Hunt is a 1994 HBO fantasy detective television film directed by Paul Schrader and starring Dennis Hopper and Eric Bogosian. The film, written by Joseph Dougherty, is a sequel to the 1991 film Cast a Deadly Spell, with Hopper playing private detective H. Phillip Lovecraft and replacing Fred Ward. Additionally, many characters have different backstories than in Cast a Deadly Spell. For example, Lovecraft refuses to use magic in Cast a Deadly Spell on principle, but in Witch Hunt he refuses because of a bad experience which he has had. The original music score was composed by Angelo Badalamenti.
In a fictionalized version of Los Angeles, magic is real, and mythical beasts exist. The year is 1953, some five years since magic was considered a normal thing. Senator Larson Crockett has led a campaign that managed to make the majority of the country afraid of magic and even outlaw its use.
Private investigator H. Philip Lovecraft is hired by film star Kim Hudson to dig up dirt on her husband, producer N.J. Gotlieb, who is about to replace her on his latest film with a young starlet with whom he may be having an affair. In secret, Hypolita Kropotkin, Lovecraft's friend and landlady, works for Gotlieb's film studio as a witch, bringing famous writers from history to help with the scripts.
Always beside Gotlieb is warlock Finn Macha, a former private investigator whom Lovecraft knows. When Crocket, Gotlieb and Macha leave the studio, Lovecraft follows them to a mansion in Los Feliz. Before he can learn what is going on in there, an enchanted raven makes him fall asleep with magic. When he wakes up the next morning, everybody seems to be gone.
At the studio, Gotlieb fires Kim, whom he feels only married him because of his wealth and power. Shortly after, Gotlieb is murdered by magic, and the main suspect is Kim. Distressed, she hires Lovecraft to find the killer and prove her innocence.
Lovecraft asks Hypolita for help. She, in turn, recruits two magic users from her coven. One of them, senses some of Gotlieb's old memories, which lead the group to a beachhouse. The house is owned by Gotlieb and someone used magic to clean it of all evidence. Lovecraft returns alone to the mansion where he was magically roofied. It turns out to be a whorehouse, where prostitutes use magic to turn into whatever each client wants.
Lovecraft then goes to talk to Kim. Without knowing, he interrupts a meeting between her and one of the mansion's sex workers. Startled by Lovecraft, the prostitute uses magic to steal Kim's car and flee. Later, that same woman is found in the river, dead and turned into a mannequin.
While going to see Kim again, Lovecraft saves her from committing suicide. She reveals she has been using a charm like the one the sex workers have to become more conventionally attractive and have a better shot at being a movie star. Lovecraft confesses he also used magic once. He did it to solve a crime and get evidence faster. However, a woman was killed as a result by none other than Macha.
Lovecraft confronts Crockett, who brags about being behind the murders with Macha. Knowing one needs to have a cause to gain attention and political power, and knowing he could not go against corporations, Crockett decided to attack the magical community. Now a major candidate for president of the United States, Crockett orders Lovecraft be arrested, along with Macha, who he does not find useful anymore. Enraged at this doublecrossing, Macha puts a curse on Crockett.
Before he can set Hypolita on fire, Crockett starts spitting out frogs and being shockingly sincere about his disdain for his supporters. During the ensuing chaos, Lovecraft and Hypolita flee, while Macha is nowhere to be found.
Lovecraft then goes to Kim's, but finds Macha instead. The warlock says to have kidnap her, wanting Lovecraft to join him. Being an old foe of the detective, Macha knows Lovecraft has the potential to be a powerful warlock. To tempt him with the idea of using magic, Macha presents a threat: Kim will die if Lovecraft does not use magic to stop him. At the last moment, Hypolita uses her own magic to incapacitate Macha. Taking advantage of this opportunity, Lovecraft kills Macha by drowning him in the sea.
Content with not being a movie star anymore, Kim stops using magic to alter her appearance and decides to leave Hollywood. Before she hops on the train, Lovecraft passionately kisses her goodbye.
- Dennis Hopper as Harry Phillip Lovecraft (same initials as Howard Phillips Lovecraft)
- Penelope Ann Miller as Kim Hudson
- Eric Bogosian as Senator Larson Crockett
- Sheryl Lee Ralph as Hypolita Laveau Kropotkin
- Julian Sands as Finn Macha
- Valerie Mahaffey as Trudy
- John Epperson as Vivian Dart (as Lypsinka)
- Debi Mazar as The Manicurist
- Alan Rosenberg as N.J. Gotlieb
- Clifton Collins Jr. as Tyrone