Michael Sauter
January 17, 1992 AT 05:00 AM EST

Cast a Deadly Spell

type
Movie
Current Status
In Season
mpaa
R
runtime
96 minutes
performer
Julianne Moore, Fred Ward, David Warner, Clancy Brown, Lee Tergesen
director
Martin Campbell
distributor
HBO Home Video

We gave it a C+

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+

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