The Spell (1977)

Originally airing on February 20, 1977 on NBC, this Brian Taggert (Visiting Hours, Poltergeist III and Omen IV: The Awakening) film was supposedly written before Stephen King’s Carrie. It was supposed to be a theatrical film, but thanks to De Palma’s filmed version getting on screen first, this was relegated to a movie of the week.

Rita Matchett is a shy and overweight 15-year-old girl who gets picked on just like, well, Carrie. Except her powers happen way quicker, because as one of the mean girls climbs the rope in gym class, Jackie uses her powers to make her fall to her death.

While Rita comes from a rich family, she isn’t close with her sister (Helen Hunt) or her father (James Olson, Father Adamsky from Amityville II: The Possession). Her mother (Lee Grant, who reviews said deserved better than this movie, but I love this kind of ridiculous TV movie occult magic, so screw those people) tries to understand her, but once she starts speaking in tongues, all bets are off.

This is the kind of movie where an old woman spontaneously combusts, where the gym teacher  (Lelia Goldoni, who if I was artistic I’d tell you that she was in Cassavetes’ Shadows, but we all know that she was in the 70’s Invasion of the Body Snatchers and The Unseen) teaches sad teens how to find Satan and the mom ends up having powers too, throwing knives at her daughter in a scene that again has nothing to do with Carrie at all.

Jack Colvin, who plagued David Bruce Banner on the TV version of The Incredible Hulk, and Wright King (Invasion of the Bee Girls) show up. So do some audio cues from the classic Star Trek.

Lee Phillips, who directed The Girl Most Likely to…, is behind this. Sure, it’s insanely derivative, but it’s plenty of fun.

This is one of the few made for TV movies that have come out on DVD. Thank Shout! Factory for that and beg them to release more! You can also watch this on Amazon Prime.

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