Spellcaster (1988)


Director Rafal Zielinski’s “Spellcaster” is so damn good, I want to hug it, and love it, and cuddle it to pieces. An unabashed childhood favorite, “Spellcaster” originally began life in my household as a VHS purchase from a closing video store in our neighborhood. Soon enough my brother and I enjoyed it so much it became a favorite on VHS, on constant rotation whenever we wanted to have a blast with a goofy eighties horror film. And rest assured, “Spellcaster” is about as goofy an eighties horror film as it gets.

But damned if it isn’t a fun horror film with some wacky supernatural elements. “Spellcaster” is essentially like a gory, exploitative version of “Willy Wonka.” Fans of a pop star are given a chance to visit her and be apart of the filming of her latest music video, all of which is set in an ancient castle. The fans also get a chance to be rich by hunting treasure said to be hidden within the castle. Of course, there is an evil presence within the castle that is not only watching the group, but using their own weaknesses against them to ensure horrible deaths. Like “Willy Wonka,” all of the visitors represent some form of sin or flaw that becomes their undoing in the end. One visitor can barely go a second without looking at herself in the mirror, a tubby visitor is absolutely addicted to food, and it goes on with predictable but entertaining results and punishments.

Basically greed is the order of the day, and the comeuppance is their punishment for ignorance and gluttony. “Spellcaster” plays it fairly light considering the grim circumstances that undergo the contestants, with some light comedy fare sprinkled along the gruesome deaths. While the film itself is a lot of fun, one thing that was never really made clear is what would become of the victims. Granted someone found the million dollar check, and avoided death, while the others experienced gruesome fates, what if people asked questions about the missing contestants? Wouldn’t people eventually notice missing players for a game on a popular network involving a popular pop star? In either case, the castle itself it a character in and of itself with mysterious corridors and odd artifacts that make every corner menacing to watch.

And with the sorcerer in the tower helping these yuppies experience horrible fates, it makes the scenery ever the more harrowing. “Spellcaster” is a childhood favorite, and thankfully it’s aged pretty well. Sure, it’s pure eighties cheese, but it’s damn tasty eighties cheese with goofy performances, a creative premise, and Adam Ant pulling in a memorable performance as Diablo. Memories have been kind and thankfully, “Spellcaster” is still an entertaining and demented horror film with a classic delving in to themes of greed and gluttony becoming the end of random yuppies. I still have such a good time with this eighties genre installment.