SPELLCASTER (1988) Reviews and overview

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‘He knows what you fear.’

Spellcaster is a 1988 [released 1992] American horror film directed by Canadian Rafal Zielinski from a screenplay by Dennis Paoli (Dagon; The Dentist; Re-Animator; et al) based on a story by Ed Naha (C.H.U.D. II: Bud the Chud; Dolls). It stars Adam Ant, Richard Blade and Gail O’Grady.

Sergio Salvati (Crawlspace; The Beyond) was the cinematographer and John Carl Buechler provided the special effects monsters.

Winning a trip to Italy via a Rock TV contest, Jackie (O’Grady) and her brother Tom (Pruett) join other winners Myrna (Demson), Yvette (Lind), Terri (Ulrich), Harlan (Zorek) and Tony (Modugno).

They settle into the rooms of an old castle, together with Cassandra (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 $1 million prize before it starts, to no avail. When the contest begins, they start to die one-by-one from a mysterious source within the castle..


Spellcaster‘s attractive cast, impressive effects and make-up, and relatively light delivery are about the only aspects of the film that make it watchable schlock for those who enjoy cheesy, b-movie horror. However, with a dumb plot and severe lapses in basic logic, it is a frustrating experience for anyone not completely pleased by superficial pleasures.” Qwipster

“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.” Cinema Crazed

“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.” Christopher T. Chase

Spellcaster was Rafal Zielinski’s second attempt at directing an Empire flick after the rather more engaging but equally pallid Valet Girls. His ‘hand me the paycheque’ mentality is on show throughout, with occasionally shaky camerawork from the usually dependable Sergio Salvati and multiple continuity errors rearing their ugly mugs, alongside the odd scene where it appears as though a certain actor has mistimed his/her lines but the director just can’t bear to sit through another take.” Dave Jay, Empire of the ‘B’s

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” …has such a cop-out ending that the the film falls on its pie-studded face in spite of rich production values, good monsters by John Buechler and satisfying gory murders staged by director Rafal Zielinski. It’s a case of the film never taking itself seriously enough.” John Stanley, Creature Features

Main cast and characters:

Adam Ant, Richard Blade, Gail O’Grady, Harold Pruett (Embrace of the Vampire), Bunty Bailey (Dolls), Kim Johnston Ulrich (Rumpelstiltskin), Michael Zorek, Martha Demson, Traci Lind, William Butler, Michael Deak, Donald Hodson, Marcello Modugno (Dial: Help), Dale Wyatt.

Choice dialogue:

Rex: “Yeah, I’ve seen Lost Weekend!”

Filming locations:

Odescalchi Castle, Bracciano, Rome, Lazio, Italy (Night of the Devils; Castle of the Living Dead; Katarsis)

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