Spellcaster (1988) Poster


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Incorrectly classified as a slasher
slayrrr66610 January 2007
Warning: Spoilers
"Spellcaster" isn't all that bad of a film, it's just not a slasher.


Winning a trip to Italy through a contest, Jackie, (Gail O'Grady) and her brother Tom, (Harold Pruett) join other winners Myrna, (Martha Demson) Yvette, (Traci Lind) Terri, (Lim Johnston Ulrich) Harlan, (Michael Zorek) and Tony, (Marcello Modugno) settle into their rooms with Cassandra Castle, (Bunty Bailey) a rock star playing along in the contest. Wanting to get a leg up on each other, they all try to sneak out and find the prize before it starts, to no avail. When the contest starts, they start to die one-by-one from a mysterious source within the castle. Figuring that evil forces are at work, the remaining members race to stop the assailant from finishing their work.

The Good News: This one wasn't as bad as it could've been and is actually pretty good. The film has a large collection of really impressive special effects. There really isn't a lot of those effects that don't come off, and they mostly work. The different monsters created look really great, especially the lion-chair. That in itself looks really great, with the constant leather stretching and movement in slow motion combining with the realism for the creature and the fearsome look of it to really make the scenes work. The zombie sequence is one of the film's best, for it's an incredibly creepy scene and features some really good looking zombies. There's some definitive Italian in them, being very deformed and rotting, with grayed skulls, rotting limbs, exposed bone, and tattered clothing. They look really great and the sequence gives them a really nice introduction with their appearance. Having them emerge from the stone walls nearby and slowly creep up on the unsuspecting victim is really nice and the originality of the type of affair is another big reason. There's also a really nifty transformation in here from a human to a pig, and is done in complete werewolf type of order, from the snout emerging from the mouth, ears coming off the head, the hands transform into vicious looking claws and the rest of the body transforms into the creature. It looks really great and completely realistic, making it a real highlight. The film also has a really creepy location, as the castle is quite suspenseful. The large interior rooms, the long hallways, mysterious sculptures and paintings and the secret rooms allow for plenty of nice, creepy images whenever focus is in the castle. It's a really impressively designed place that gets a lot out of it when it's on it. This one really could've been a lot worse.

The Bad News: This film still has some problems with it. Aside from the impressive special effects, there wasn't much else to it. The film takes forever to get going, and the actual pretense of the plot, having the characters knocked off during the scavenger hunt, is started in the last half hour of the film. The introduction to the characters in the beginning takes far too long and really could've been trimmed down. The film's other big problem is in pacing. The main point of the film doesn't occur until it's almost over, and that is a really huge mislead. That almost has the film really losing it's momentum, as it takes forever to get through the set-ups. They rob the film and it's attempts at suspense and that's a real shame. Beyond these, though, the film doesn't really have many things wrong with it.

The Final Verdict: This was pretty good when it wanted to be, and there is a lot to like about this one. This one is not without it's problems, though, so give it a chance if you enjoy cheesy films just like this, but seek caution if you want a little more seriousness in films.

Rated R: Graphic Language, Violence, Brief Nudity and an attempted rape
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One of the Lesser-Known Empire Films
gavin69429 October 2012
A group of people are killed one by one while participating at a million dollar treasure hunt in a mysterious Italian castle.

Despite being written by Dennis Paoli (who has achieved fame for writing or adapting "Re-Animator" and "From Beyond"), this is one of the lesser-known Empire films. Is it deservedly lesser-known? Well, I suppose it would be hard to compete with Stuart Gordon's work. But the Empire years were still the best work Charlie Band ever had his hand in.

We have Adam Ant as "Diablo" and horror veteran Bill Butler also appears. And, like many Empire and Full Moon films, we have the entire thing shot on location at Band's Italian castle. We have a sort of "House on Haunted Hill" theme going -- locked in a mysterious location, hoping to get rich (if they survive).

I enjoyed this one. I saw another review call it a snoozer, but I thought it had a good pace ("Puppet Master" is slower). And it is decently bloody with fair effects. Director Rafal Zielinski deserves more recognition than he gets.
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unimaginative lame Charles Band flick about a castle treasure hunt and a sinister host
FieCrier21 January 2005
Warning: Spoilers
A brother and sister working as dishwashers win a Rock TV channel contest to participate in a reality TV show. They will be two of seven people joining a pop music video star and a VJ in an Italian castle, to search for a million dollar check. (Finding a check in a house, or even a room might be pretty challenging, but in a castle...?)

When they arrive, the camerawoman sends the only two other people from her crew to Rome to get an HD camera. After they've left on their journey, an unseen man in front of a crystal ball causes their car to stop and explode in flames.

The video star is stuck up and an alcoholic, and she makes some kind of deal with the VJ whereby he doesn't even hide the check, but gives it to her. Besides the aforementioned team of siblings, there's also a sex-mad stiletto-wielding Italian car thief, a snooty upper- class English huntress, a vain blonde vegetarian cocktease, a sexy French girl, and a fat food-obsessed New Jersey guy.

The camera-work is pretty unimaginative, and the lighting uniform throughout, so every scene looks pretty much the same. The exteriors of the castle are nice, and the props within are pretty good, particularly a chair that comes to life, but it really is let down by the direction.

Adam Ant eventually shows up towards the end (it's no secret that he's Diabolo, the man behind the crystal ball). Unfortunately, he did not do any of the soundtrack work.

I'm surprised this was rated R! The most skin on display were a couple of bare backs, and the worst word "bitch." There's very little violence, and it's pretty brief and cartoonish. I'd have rated it PG.

Definitely not one of Full Moon/Empire Pictures/Charles Band's better ones. Pretty mediocre and unimaginative.
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Lots of 80's Clichés and Cheap Horrors!
sidekickllb12 March 2011
Warning: Spoilers
OK kiddies, before we begin, let me explain what 80's movies were like: Bad hair with way too much product (can someone say "mousse abuse"?); Stereotyped characters; Synthesized music with the chorus repeated at least 6 times; Legwarmers and/or Spandex ... and on more than one occasion, Adam Ant.

Spellcaster is a horror movie that was made in 1988, but for some reason, was not released until '92. It has all of the above, including Adam Ant (who shows his hands several times, but his face for only about 5 minutes).

RockTV holds a contest where 7 "lucky" people will be flown to a Medieval Italian castle to spend the weekend with the extremely stereotypical alcoholic Brit rocker Cassandra Castle, and have a chance to win $1M. (Wow, that was a witty idea ... meet Cassandra Castle at the "Cassandra's Castle" contest).

The 7 contestants are also stereotypical: The fat American slob; The prissy California girl who thinks she's better than everyone; The rich, snobby Brit woman who hunts game; The slutty French girl who shows lots of skin in her outfits and obviously doesn't wear underwear; The criminal Italian guy who pushes himself on the ladies more than once; The boy- and girl-next-door American brother and sister team who just lost their jobs, and who could really use that million bucks.

Their host, Signor Diaboli (how the Italian guy didn't understand the man's name literally means "Mr. Devil" is beyond me) is the owner of Castle Diaboli. However, every time he is supposed to meet or greet his guests, for some reason the butler says he can't make it.

The contest begins, and each contestant (and a few RockTV employees) end up getting offed in various supernatural ways. The effects for each murder, I will admit, are good ideas ... but the execution of each effect is bad. For example, one person is eaten by a chair that has a lion's head and paws carved into it. When it bites the person, it's fang squishes like the latex foam it is. Like I said ... good idea, bad execution (but you can see the FX people really tried hard, so I can't complain TOO much).

Of course, the girl-next-door has to save the day, and she does. Diaboli ends up quitting his "normal" devilish day job for one even MORE evil ... Head VJ on RockTV ... with a great new contest for aspiring rock stars.

Hey, wait a minute ... maybe Simon Cowell is really Adam Ant! {pause} Naaaah ... couldn't be ... :P
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Scarecrow-881 April 2007
Warning: Spoilers
Hokey Charles Band production(Empire pictures before starting Full Moon)about various characters participating in a million dollar treasure hunt in a mysterious castle whose owner doesn't show his face. Dr. Diablo remains in his little lair often caressing his crystal ball casting spells on those characters who represent the loathsome types that normally die in horror films. The french snob/slut eaten by a lion chair(!), a aristocrat(who likes wild game hunting)who winds up a feast for some sort of leaping monstrous leopard, a crook who finds himself chasing after the check and falling to his doom, an American bitch who teases the males of the group who treats everyone rudely and winds up in the clutches of a demon on a painting(!), and so on. Our protagonists are Jackie & Tom(Gail O'Grady & Harold Pruett), a sister and brother from Cleveland. If anyone will survive, they seem to be singled out. You have a VJ, Rex(Richard Blade)for a replica of MTV, who excitingly points out that this treasure hunt is sponsored by the rock star Cassandra Castle(Bunt Bailey), an alcoholic wench who wishes she was elsewhere rather than in this castle with these people she deems inferior and annoying(clearly, she's the annoyance, surprisingly Cassandra is normally the first to go in a horror flick like this, but is kept alive..hmm..).

Good monster effects by John Carl Buechler's company redeem this otherwise silly waste of time. I think monster movie fans will like this best because the creatures present are quite well made. But, the premise isn't really taken advantage of to full effect. The castle is a perfect tool for a horror flick, but isn't ominous at all..and when you can not utilize the castle as a horror set-piece, you're in trouble. Adam Ant appears briefly(and effectively)as Dr. Diablo, the mysterious proprietor of the castle who practices black magic..or could very well be ole Beelzebub himself. Best sequence:An overeater literally turns into a pig!
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As Band Productions Go, I'd Call This One A "Lollapa-SNOO-za"...
cchase4 February 2007
Remember all the old Roger Corman flicks, where he had some money, props, locations and actors left over from a recently wrapped movie, and he or someone working with him dashed off a quick script to take advantage of the opportunity? Well, SPELLCASTER plays just like one of those...except that producer Charles Band forgot one important ingredient...a storyline that would actually make it entertaining and watchable! You would think that by having a script co-written by Ed Naha (DOLLS) and Dennis Paoli (RE-ANIMATOR, FROM BEYOND), it would've turned out better than it actually did, and maybe the script WAS good. But what's on the page doesn't necessarily make it to the screen, and boy, does it really show here. This was one of those few Empire Pictures movies I didn't catch up to back in the Eighties, and now I can see why. Subconsciously, I must've known it was better to stay away.

Former NYPD BLUE cast member Gail O'Grady was getting her start here, as one of a group of "lucky winners" of a contest sponsored by a rock music channel (think a really low-budget MTV). The prize is getting flown to an ancient castle in Italy, (actually Empire's chief location back then, where many of the films were made), to meet top pop star Cassandra Castle (DOLLS' Bunty Bailey), and participate in a scavenger hunt for a check worth $1 million. The castle, of course, belongs to the mysterious and elusive "Signor Diablo" (Adam Ant), which automatically should tell you that Really Bad Things are about to happen.

Yep. Bad acting, bad direction and ridiculously bad editing. O'Grady and Bailey are probably the two most watchable performers in this whole mess. I'd make it three including Adam Ant, but he doesn't even show up till near the end of the third reel.

The most interesting and fun things about SPELLCASTER are the title and the opening sequence, when Bailey does a music video as Castle that's every bit as engagingly cheesy as the vids you used to see on MTV back in its infancy. After that, folks, it's all downhill from there, as you watch the usual horror stereotypes, (tarty French girl, slutty American floozy, sleazy Italian gigolo punk, fat, greasy, junk-food-eating loser, etc.) fall victim to the best special effects work that John Carl Buechler's MMI could come up with on a non-existent budget.

Fans of Empire's Eighties catalog may actually have fond memories of this movie. Personally, I do have the same sentiments about some of their flicks...but this definitely wasn't one of them.
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Gotta agree...
sknisley-12 January 2007
there are a lot of opportunities for female nudity wasted in this one. It would have scored much higher if they had taken the opportunities available. The storyline, while somewhat implausible, was not beyond suspension of disbelief. The blond girl who has constant trouble with her shower, keeps bringing guys up to fix it and never put out made me almost as frustrated as the guys "fixing" the shower. Realistically, if the film maker wanted people to actually watch this drivel they would have included the nudity that the film could have presented. The multiple shower/bath scenes where the girls were titillating the male characters would have played much better if they titillated the viewer as well.
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SlasherReviewer15 September 2004
I am a fan of, now bankrupt, Full Moon Pictures but this Empire Pictures film by Charles Band just plain sucked. You either like the B-horror or you hate it and this one had HATE written all over it. First why did Adam Ant only arrive in the last 10 minutes of the movie? Hard to say, the only conclusion I could come to is that they couldn't afford to pay him so just hired him for the final scene? This movie was just plain junk, the only thing it had going for it is that it was shot in a castle over in another country. So had some cool scenes but everything else just fell flat on it's face. I do like some of Charles Band's movies but this is NOT one of them. Slasher Reviewer gives this one a thumbs down, and why was is rated R? No nudity, no gore? Should of been rated PG!
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What's wrong with the '80s
BKinzeys10 January 2007
Most everything wrong in the '80s had an influence on this movie. Including the fact it was made in '91. An all around bad horror movie with bad acting and a trite, simplistic script.

Richard Blade is given top billing in this mess and is the reason I watched this movie. Currently, in 2007, Mr Blade is an oldies DJ on a radio station in Los Angeles. That was enough to get me to watch this stinker. In the '80s Mr Blade was a popular "Video Jockey" and hence his casting as a "Popular Video Jockey" hosting a contest being held in a castle.

Nothing against Mr. Blade personally. I'm sure he was offered money and a chance to broaden his professional resume. If nothing else he proves being a good DJ and a good VJ does not translate into being a good actor.

Possibly the movie is bad enough that in a few years this movie can be seen as a true howler for it's script, acting and true datedness.

Currently is should only be viewed after checking it's listing here on IMDb to note several of those connected to this horror-ible dud went on to have actual careers! The only true horror I see here is a nail in the coffin of the '80s being dead.

That's all Folks!
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The transformation scene of a man into a pig n the creatures n goat faced demon got totally wasted. Poor Buechler (rip).
Fella_shibby24 September 2019
I first saw this in the early 90s on a vhs which I owned. I found the film very lousy then. Never played the vhs again. Revisited it few days back. The special effects is by John Carl Buechler n the creatures n demons were all done well but the makers did not utilize em properly. Most of the kills r lousy n offscreen. The movie has a shower scene without nudity, an offscreen sex scene without nudity, a bathtub bathing scene without nudity.

So basically there r no good kills, no scare factor n nudity at all n all this makes it a lousy horror film. The film has a unique transformation scene of a fatter lookalike of Lou Ferrigno into a man pig. Some may argue that the film Willow (1988) has lots of men transforming into pigs.

The ending is again a big meh. We have Albert Band father of filmmaker Charles Band as the wierd cook.
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Not Even The Almighty Adam Ant Could Save This One
EdIsInHell4 March 2019
Not a very good movie. Wasted about 1 1/2 hours with this piece of junk. Adam Ant doesn't fit in a horror movie.

Eat an apple instead.

Even Tyrannosaurus Bong couldn't help this steaming pile of dog turd.
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