‘A nightmare of illusion and betrayal’
Spellbinder is a 1988 American romantic horror film directed by Janet Greek from a screenplay by Tracy Tormé. It stars Tim Daly, Kelly Preston, and Rick Rossovich.
Los Angeles attorney Jeff Mills and his friend Derek Clayton rescue a young beautiful woman, Miranda Reed, from an apparently abusive boyfriend.
Miranda has no home so Jeff offers her to stay at his house. But as the two became lovers, Jeff learns that Miranda is on the run from a witches’ coven.
Unfortunately, the coven needs Miranda back as a sacrifice at the winter solstice. She must, however, go to them of her own free will, and the coven tries to force her into doing so, using sorcery to taunt and terrify the two of them. Miranda tells Jeff about her grim situation, but not the entire truth…
“Spellbinder doesn’t wind up as tightly as it could, but select moments are pulled off with care, finding Torme channeling The Wicker Man as Jeff encounters forces he doesn’t understand, focused intently on his mission to defend his love. Daly deserves credit for committing entirely to the picture, which retains its fair share of silly business, including a showdown around Jeff’s home as Satanists gather outside, peering and bending the windows.” Brian Orndorf, Blu-ray.com
“Spellbinder isn’t all that good but it is oddly watchable. Besides, you have to stay until the end to see Kelly Preston’s devil dance in the sheer white nightie. [..] What this movie really needed was some kind of dynamic lighting to help with the mood. I mean this is a Satan movie with lots of potentially eerie images but everything was so broadly lit across the board that it kind of just sapped away at the creepiness…” Christopher Armstead, Film Critics United
“A pretty hokey mix of occult chills and marginally sexy thrills, Spellbinder is deadly in its predictability and more or less screams in your face about where it’s heading very quickly but it moves at a good pace and offers up enough skin and satanic hijinks that easily amused trash movie fans will dig what this movie delivers.” Ian Jane, Rock! Shock! Pop!
“The movie also has a few good scare scenes, like one in which the faces of all the members of the coven suddenly appear crowded around a window, staring in. A slickly made example of how Hollywood made money off of the Satanic panic of the 1980s, Spellbinder is essentially The Wicker Man set in Los Angeles and is more entertaining than Neil LaBute’s actual remake.” Jedadiah Leland, Through the Shattered Lens
Cast and characters:
- Timothy Daly as Jeff Mills
- Kelly Preston as Miranda Reed
- Rick Rossovich as Derek Clayton
- Audra Lindley as Mrs. White
- Anthony Crivello as Aldys
- Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa as Lieutenant Lee
- Diana Bellamy as Grace Woods
- James Watkins as Tim Weatherly
- Kyle T. Heffner as Herbie Green
- M. C. Gainey as Brock
- Stefan Gierasch as Edgar De Witt
- Roderick Cook as Ed Kennerle
The film was given a limited release theatrically in the United States by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer in September 1988. It grossed $657,446 domestically at the box office.