HOME |  CULT MOVIES | COMPETITIONS | ADVERTISE |  CONTACT US |  ABOUT US
 
 
Newest Reviews
Rambo: Last Blood
Sansho the Bailiff
Iron Fury
Ride in the Whirlwind
Deathstalker II
Cloak and Dagger
Honeyland
Love Ban, The
Western Stars
League of Gentlemen, The
Higher Power
Shinsengumi
IT Chapter Two
Rich Kids
Arena
Glory Guys, The
Serial Killer's Guide to Life, A
Lovers and Other Strangers
Shiny Shrimps, The
Good Woman is Hard to Find, A
Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark
Doctor at Sea
Spear
Death Cheaters
Wild Rose
Streetwalkin'
Mystify: Michael Hutchence
Devil's Playground, The
Cleanin' Up the Town: Remembering Ghostbusters
Hustlers
Mega Time Squad
Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker
Souvenir, The
Birds of Passage
Ma
Woman at War
Happy as Lazzaro
Mickey's Christmas Carol
Marriage Story
Santa Claus is a Bastard
   
 
Newest Articles
Bash Street Kid: Cosh Boy on Blu-ray
Seeing is Believing: Being There on Blu-ray
Top Thirty Best (and Ten Worst) Films of the 2010s by Andrew Pragasam
Top of the Tens: The Best Films of the Decade by Graeme Clark
Terrorvision: A Ghost Story for Christmas in the 1970s
Memories Are Made of This: La Jetee and Sans Soleil on Blu-ray
Step Back in Time: The Amazing Mr. Blunden on Blu-ray
Crazy Cats and Kittens: What's New Pussycat on Blu-ray
No Place Like Home Guard: Dad's Army - The Lost Episodes on Blu-ray
A Real-Life Pixie: A Tribute to Michael J. Pollard in Four Roles
We're All In This Together: The Halfway House on Blu-ray
Please Yourselves: Frankie Howerd and The House in Nightmare Park on Blu-ray
Cleesed Off: Clockwise on Blu-ray
Sorry I Missed You: Les Demoiselles de Rochefort on Blu-ray
Silliest of the Silly: Monty Python's Flying Circus Series 1 on Blu-ray
Protest Songs: Hair on Blu-ray
Peak 80s Schwarzenegger: The Running Man and Red Heat
Rock On: That'll Be the Day and Stardust on Blu-ray
Growing Up in Public: 7-63 Up on Blu-ray
Learn Your Craft: Legend of the Witches and Secret Rites on Blu-ray
70s Psycho-Thrillers! And Soon the Darkness and Fright on Blu-ray
Split: Stephen King and George A. Romero's The Dark Half on Blu-ray
Disney Post-Walt: Three Gamechangers
But Doctor, I Am Pagliacci: Tony Hancock's The Rebel and The Punch and Judy Man on Blu-ray
Once Upon a Time in Deadwood: Interview with Director Rene Perez
   
 
  Spellcaster Ant MusingsBuy this film here.
Year: 1988
Director: Rafal Zielinski
Stars: Adam Ant, Richard Blade, Gail O'Grady, Harold Pruett, Bunty Bailey, Kim Johnston Urich, Michael Zorek, Martha Demson, Traci Lind, William Butler, Michael Deak, Donald Hodson, Marcello Modugno, Dale Wyatt
Genre: Horror, Comedy
Rating:  5 (from 1 vote)
Review: Upon winning a mysterious sweep-stake invitation worth one million dollars and free plane tickets, siblings Jackie (Gail O'Grady) and Tom (Harold Pruett) quit their jobs and join other contestants at a luxurious spooky castle in Italy. Organized by smarmy music TV host Rex (Richard Blade) as a promotional stunt for sulky, perpetually inebriated rock star Cassandra Castle (Bunty Bailey), the pair try to find the hidden cash prize, competing alongside snooty Brit Myrna (Martha Demson), flash Italian Tony (Marcello Modugno), foxy French chick Yvette (cult actress Traci Lind, doing a cute ooh-la-la accent), chunky Jersey boy Harlan (Michael Zorek) and vapid California girl Terri (Kim Johnston Urich). Eager to get a leg up on each other, everybody (save nice girl Jackie) sneaks out after dark to find the prize, but to no avail. One by one they are bumped off by monstrous forces marshaled by...

… preening early eighties Brit pop idol Adam Ant as the malevolent Diablo. Dum-dum-dah! Bet you didn't see that coming. Although if you paid attention to the opening credits you probably did. Nevertheless by the time the erstwhile Prince Charming finally makes his grand entrance the movie has all but ten minutes left. Adam Ant parlayed pop success in his native Britain into a very strange Hollywood film career. Mostly in horror and exploitation films (though he also appeared in Wayne Wang's offbeat, oh-so-Eighties comedy-thriller, Slam Dance (1987)). This one produced by famed B-movie mogul Charles Band through his Empire Pictures. Band's very own Italian castle figures prominently throughout Spellcaster (and indeed several Empire productions) serving as a backdrop for the opening music video where star Bunty Bailey (whom '80s pop culture fans will recognize as the girl from A-ha's iconic video for 'Take On Me'!) vamps it up in a diaphanous red gown.

Directed by the inconsistent but interesting Rafal Zielinski, whose best work includes offbeat indie dramas Baba! (1983) and Fun (1994) though he also made a ton of teen sex comedies, Spellcaster has something of a pedigree. Co-written by Re-Animator (1985) scribe Dennis Paoli from a story by Ed Naha, who also penned Dolls (1987) and Honey, I Shrunk the Kids (1989), the film boasts solid rubber monster effects by Empire's in-house effects wizard John Carl Buechler (who also directed second unit) and sporadically striking photography by Sergio Salvati. Fresh off his much cherished run of gothic horror epics with legendary Italian goremeister Lucio Fulci, Salvati's roving camera employs some familiar closeups on terrified eyeballs. On the other hand he and Zielinski opt for silly 'boob close-ups' on various screaming women (because fear emanates from the lungs, you see...).

Plot-wise, Spellcaster is very much a throwback to the William Castle school of schlock horror filmmaking, minus the gimmicks. Characters conform to hoary old stereotypes (slutty French chick, volatile Italian lothario) or are otherwise drawn cartoonishly obnoxious leaving viewers content to watch them succumb to ridiculous deaths. Strangely enough the film Spellcaster most closely resembles is Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (1971). Diablo emerges a less benevolent but ultimately moralistic Wonka figure, Harlan is basically an American Augustus Gloop, sneaking any opportunity to gorge himself on some tasty treat, while various beautiful but unlikable female characters compete to be Veruca Salt. Lovely Traci Lind, probably the most personable actor in the cast, lands the especially thankless role of disposable slut. She makes an early exit - eaten by a chair (!) and presumably flew home to greater things. Or at least Fright Night Part 2 (1988) of which, trust me, she is the best part.

As with a great many Charles Band productions there is the nagging sense that the plot exists only to string together a bunch of effects sequences. Buechler's rubber monster gags, which include people mauled by zombies, a character turned into a pig-man and someone strangled by a cel animated bolt of lightning, are actually pretty effective and great fun. And yet there remains something frankly unpleasant about how the film portrays every woman besides Jackie as a cock-teasing bitch. And even has Jackie and Tom describe them as such several times. Eventually things cross the line into tastelessness with an implied demonic rape scene. While Jackie may as well wear a halo, Tom does not come off very well either with his blatant greed and sense of entitlement to sex. Between effects sequences, characters mope, whine and meander until disposed of. Eventually Adam Ant's mockney antics prove distinctly underwhelming for a presumed demonic menace. The would-be moralistic sting in the tail simply does not ring true and the film further contrives a jokey finale taking a swipe both at MTV and pop stardom itself. Which may have appealed to Adam. After all, ridicule is nothing to be scared of.

Reviewer: Andrew Pragasam

 

This review has been viewed 377 time(s).

As a member you could Rate this film

 
Review Comments (1)


Untitled 1

Login
  Username:
 
  Password:
 
   
 
Forgotten your details? Enter email address in Username box and click Reminder. Your details will be emailed to you.
   

Latest Poll
Which star is the best at shouting?
Arnold Schwarzenegger
Brian Blessed
Tiffany Haddish
Steve Carell
Olivia Colman
Captain Caveman
Sylvester Stallone
Gerard Butler
Samuel L. Jackson
Bipasha Basu
   
 
   

Recent Visitors
Graeme Clark
Andrew Pragasam
Darren Jones
  Rachel Franke
Enoch Sneed
Paul Smith
Paul Shrimpton
  Desbris M
   

 

Last Updated: