SLASHER MONTH: Spellcaster (1988)

Charles Band bought a castle, Castello di Giove, to make movies in*, which gives this movie a great look. It’s so 1988 that it hurts, featuring an MTV-style channel that creates a contest where viewers will compete to find a $1 million dollar check hidden in the walls of the estate of the enigmatic Diablo (Adam Ant!), like some demented Willie Wonka or Amazing Kreskin trying to find his payday.

Let me tell you all right from the start, I absolutely love this movie.

This whole scheme has been created to help the career of music video vixen Cassandra Castle (Bunty Bailey, herself a music video girl with appearances in OMD’s “Talking Loud and Clear” and most famously in a-ha’s “Take On Me” and “The Sun Always Shines on TV,” as well as showing up in another Band film, Dolls) and VJ Rex (Richard Blade, who was a KROQ DJ and is now on Sirius XM’s First Wave channel).

Along with the heroic orphans from Cleveland named Jackie and Tom (Gail O’Grady and Harold Pruett), there’s also a moron from Jersey and several stuck up female contestants like Myrna, Teri and Yvette (Tricia Lind, Fright Night Part 2) who seem to be in this only to drive Tom insane.

The scheme is that Cassandra is holding the check so that she and Rex can split the money. But nobody counted on Diablo really being a spellcasting demon — hence the title — and killing off the contestants one by one.

Director Rafal Zielinski also made ScrewballsScrewballs IIScrewballs HotelRecruits and State Park, all video rental and cable favorites that I’ve watched more times than I’d care to admit.

One of the reasons this movie looks so good is because it was shot by Lucio Fulci’s regular DP, Sergio Salvati (ZombieContrabandThe PsychicCity of the Living DeadThe BeyondThe House by the Cemetery and many more films without the Godfather of Gore, including 1990: The Bronx WarriorsThunderThe Wax Mask and Ghoulies II). It’s also filled with imaginative FX, such as a room of zombies and a wooden chair that comes to life to kill off one of the contestants.

You can get this on blu ray from Vinegar Syndrome or watch it on Tubi.

*Castle FreakThe Pit and the PendulumNight of the SinnerMeridian and many more movies were shot in the castle.

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