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Episode #31: Cast a Deadly Spell

Listen to Episode 31 of the Podcast here while you enjoy the show notes.

SUMMARY - Cast a Deadly Spell takes place in an alternate universe version of 1946 Los Angeles where magic runs rampant and monsters roam the city. Private Investigator Phil Lovecraft (played by Fred Ward) is one of the few that refuses to use magic, and that is why he is hired to find and return a very special book that’s needed for a very special ceremony happening in two days.

Screenplay by Joseph Dougherty; Directed by Martin Campbell, and debuting on HBO on September 7, 1991.


There's a mix of genres at play in this 1940s noir mystery that takes place in a world of magic and creatures.

It's nice that they didn't get too wrapped up in the magic side that they completely ignored the mystery part.

The movie slowly introduces magical elements with tiny tricks, but will throw in some big stuff here and there.

As a noir, it was directed pretty well and there's no complaints about the camerawork

Generally the effects are not bad at all, and the only time the movie really feels fake is with some of the long establishing shots.

Here's another example where the illusion is reduced.

The bigger draw is with the creatures. We don't know why there's an oatmeal bird monster, exactly, but it looked creepy and interesting most of the time.

That sequence also showed us that the movie wasn't afraid to get a little gory, but overall it wasn't trying to be all that scary.

In fact it tried to be funny a lot of the time. It's possible these are meant to make fun of "Gremlins" or maybe simply inspired, but they made for the best laughs.

Most of the jokes don't land, like how Lovecraft is handing out business cards for his landlord's dance studio.

The use of zombies in the movie also was kind of funny.

The main zombie, who has no lines (understandable), was not funny and that's okay. These two made for a decent pair of heavies.

Of course their boss has some backstory and history with Lovecraft, as does his current girlfriend, so you get a lot of the predictable story beats there

The ending certainly tries to produce several twists and turns in quick succession. Some are more effective than others.

It all culminates in the summoning of the elder god and we were a bit underwhelmed with how this one looked.

After the normal recap, we like diving into cast & crew histories because then we get to learn things about people like Beckie Mullen who appears in one scene and was a former GLOW cast member in the '80s.

Awards Talk - The TV movie earned an Emmy win for “Outstanding Individual Achievement in Music and Lyrics” for the song Why Do I Lie? and was nominated for Best Sound Editing


This week we don't have much in the way of true crime (no summoning of mythical gods in the news, what a surprise!)

We also skip the music portion as we've had a ton of September releases and covered most of this already a bunch.

On the TV side, we do have a couple of shows to discuss

We get to talk about another Busted Pilot - Mimi & Me

and we also go over a TV Competition Show starring Greg Kinnear as host - Best of the Worst


Nikki 1-5 star scale - 1 out of 5

Jon 0-4 star scale - 2 1/2 out of 4

Would you watch it again? - Maybe not. The genre combination thing sounds good on paper, but doesn't always work in practice. Still, we would be interested in the sequel "Witch Hunt" that came out in 1994 starring Dennis Hopper instead of Fred Ward.

If you want to watch Cast a Deadly Spell, as of this recording in September 2021, it’s available on HBOMax, Digital Rental, VHS. Check your local listings.


You can listen to us on all your major podcasting platforms and please consider rating, subscribing, and sharing with your friends.

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Join us next time for The People Under the Stairs available on Digital Rental, VHS, DVD


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