Early on in this made-for-cable noir, you notice something a little unusual: Everybody here uses magic, for everything from lighting cigarettes to settling scores. Magic, you see, is Cast a Deadly Spell’s fancy metaphor for good, old-fashioned corruption.
Enter Fred Ward (Henry & June) as Harry Phillip Lovecraft, a hard-boiled private eye too honest to use hocus-pocus. On the trail of a missing volume of evil spells, Lovecraft comes face-to-face with witches, gargoyles, demons, and of course, beautiful dames. For a while, it’s fun: The idea is clever, the dialogue is witty, the visual style is ominously baroque. But finally the send-up succumbs to static pacing and a parchment-thin plot. Long before it’s over, this Spell wears off. C+