Cast A Deadly Spell, movie (1991)  » Movies  »
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  • There are times when some of the best movies I've seen were ones I stumbled across haphazardly

    • by Mackenzie Lambert


      There are times when some of the best movies I’ve seen were ones I stumbled across haphazardly. I first became aware of this particular film after seeing a t-shirt for it on the horror site, Rotten Cotton. A trailer for the film was viewable next to the stylishly designed shirt. Thankfully, one of my friends had a readily viewable copy and I was in awe of what I watched.

      The film presents a fantasy-driven take on Los Angeles in 1948. The city has its share of oddities, be they zombies, vampires, werewolves, or necromancers. Everyone in town uses magic, with detective H. Phillip Lovecraft (Fred Ward) being the only person who doesn’t.

      He has his own reasons for not doing so.

      Rich recluse Amos Hackshaw (David Warner) hires Lovecraft to find the infamous Necronomicon, in the hopes of protecting mankind from “The Old Ones.” Lovecraft’s findings lead him to local mobster Harry Bordon (Clancy Brown) and an old flame of his, Connie (Julianne Moore).

      The noir elements of Dick Tracy are given a grimy layer of grit in Cast A Deadly Spell. Production designer Jon Bunker gave the film the proper allotment of Art Deco tones with Gothic fantasy. Costume designer Mary Rose does a fine job of presenting authentic styles akin to The Maltese Falcon.

      Composer Curt Sobel uses brass and upright bass to fit in with the film’s murky setting. Dan Rae, a former editor for the TV series Doctor Who, brings a basic approach to the editing. There’s little style to take the viewer out of the film. Joseph Dougherty’s script features a number of in-jokes and references Lovecraft devotees will appreciate as well as a few twists to keep the viewer on their toes.

      Martin Campbell, the director of both stellar James Bond films Goldeneye and Casino Royale, does fine work making this world as believable as possible. He focuses on the actors much more so than the magic elements. This helps hide some of the film’s weaker special effects.

      Fred Ward, much like with Remo Williams: The ...

      • Cast A Deadly Spell, movie (1991)
      Adventure Begins, shows he’s a capable lead in genre films. He brings the right balance of cynicism and will needed for the character. Long time film fans will see elements of past actors like William Holden and Humphrey Bogart in Ward’s take on Lovecraft. He also has great scenes with Moore, and handles himself well when sharing scenes with the likes of Brown and Warner.

      The secondary cast features a number of stand out performances by notable character actors. David Warner and Clancy Brown show here why they are some of the best actors in film. Both men take control of the scenes they’re in. Lee Tergesen and Raymond O’Connor have amusing

      parts and will be recognizable to many filmgoers.

      The femme fatales of the film honor their Noir forerunners. Julianne Moore brings an element of danger and mystique to her role as Connie. Alexandra Powers stands out as Hackshaw’s daughter, who plays a key part in the mystery of the Necronomicon. She brings a charming innocence to the character.

      Finding a physical copy of this movie will set you back a pretty penny. One can hope that a good DVD release is in the film’s future. This is a lost film that should never have been lost in the first place. Great movies, like this particular title, deserves to be part of any genre fans’ collection.

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    The review was published as it's written by reviewer in January, 2014. The reviewer certified that no compensation was received from the reviewed item producer, trademark owner or any other institution, related with the item reviewed. The site is not responsible for the mistakes made. 1117011625000931/k2311a0117/1.17.14
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