Director – Rafal Zielinski (Highlander, Poltergeist: The Legacy)
Starring – Adam Ant (Tales from the Crypt, Nomads), Richard Blade (Video Beat, Gamers), and Gail O’Grady (Werewolf, Lycan)
Release Date – 1988
Rating – 3/5
Blu Release – 4/5
Empire Pictures doesn’t get the credit they truly deserve. The predecessor to Full Moon Pictures, Empire brought us some of our favorite genre pieces like Re-Animator, From Beyond, and Ghoulies. Empire would collapse and in it’s wake Band would go on to form Full Moon which would create several film franchises that are still spawning installments today.
Empire released several films on VHS that would go on into obscurity. One of those films is the 1989 Italian production Spellcaster. I’ve spent a good portion of my life collecting movies and I have a decent size in my Full Moon/Empire collection yet this was the first time I had heard of this movie when Vinegar Syndrome announced it. I reached out to them and they were kind enough to send a copy my way.
**Spoiler Alert** The film follows a group of contestants that are whisked away to a castle in Italy to search for a million dollar check. A panic search for a million dollar check takes a dark turn when a mysterious force starts playing pranks on them before things turn deadly. People start dying or turned into deadly beasts before the castle’s owner reveals himself and who he really is. **Spoiler Alert**
There is a reason other Empire films are more notable than Spellcaster. Spellcaster is not a bad movie but it is a rather dull gothic horror film. I genuinely liked the film but I did find myself watching the display timer count down more than I was watching the film. It’s rather dull until the last 20 or so minutes but I had more fun with this one when it was slower than most of the newer horror films I’ve seen recently.
The acting for this one isn’t bad but the characters blend into the background. Full Moon and Empire alike are not known for their brilliant casting. Sure, a few amazing performances has snuck through over the years but their entire catalogue consists of mostly outlandish horror tales and cliched performances. Spellcaster is no exception.
The story for this one follows in the same steps as many of the late 80s Charles Band produced or directed films. It puts to use the 12th century Italian castle that Band purchased to film several of his films in at the time. The story may not have been written specifically for the castle but it’s evident that it was adapted to include the castle. However, it works for what it is. A cheap and quick horror production with some nice atmosphere and typical Empire/Full Moon flair.
Finally, this one is not a bloody mess. It does have some fun creature effects and several instance of cheap visual effects but for those of you looking for a bloody mess of a film with greatly be disappointed. Overall, Spellcaster is a great choice for a first time watch. It’s cheap but very fun for the Halloween season. Sadly, there is no replay value. The VSA blu release from Vin Syn is fantastic. The poster looks amazing and the big box inspired sleeve is awesome. I highly recommend picking this one up.
Region A Blu-ray (studio restriction)
Newly scanned & restored in 2k from its 35mm interpositive
“Title TBD” – an interview with actor Richard Blade
“Title TBD” – an interview with actor/sfx artist William Butler
“Title TBD” – an interview with actor/sfx artist Michael Deak
Promotional still gallery
Limited edition of 4,000
Reversible cover artwork
English SDH subtitles