I’m bringing you a little Love this week my fine young fiends, Lovecraft that is, with 2 flicks that mash up movie genres from fantasy & horror to neo-noir. The first of the 2 is a fun low budget film made in 1991 called Cast a Deadly Spell, starring Fred Ward as Detective Harry Philip Lovecraft. Set in the film noir era of the 1940’s, Los Angeles, where magic is a common part of everyday life, Lovecraft is a conscientious objector to the world of magic; which is a common part of everyday life. When hired by rich collector Amos Hackshaw (played by horror vet David Warner) to find a stolen book (which happens to be the Necronomicon), this hard boiled PI gets tangled up in a conspiracy of maniacal and mystical proportions. When his life is put on the line over a few tattered pages, he begins to wonder what makes this book of magic worth killing for. Chock full of deadly dames, suspense and murder most foul, Cast a Deadly spell doesn’t need grand effects to make for a gripping good time. Along side Ward plays Clancy Brow and Julianne Moore as the femme fatale, who keeps you guessing in true noir form which side she’s playing on.
The second flick is in fact the second flick, the sequel to Cast a Deadly Spell, Witch Hunt. This time Lovecraft is played by Dennis Hopper, who apparently said on the talk show circuit that this was the strangest movie he had ever been in. Coming from the Actor who played Frank Booth in David Lynch’s Blue Velvet, that’s impressive. Hopper, who was usually cast in the role of villain or scoundrel, got a chance to play a hero in H.P.; who must find the truth when a young Hollywood starlette, Kim Hudson, is accused of murdering her high powered film exec. husband. Hudson is played by a young Penelope Ann Miller. In the midst of the case, he must also defend his friend and professional voodoo practitioner Hypolyta Kropotkin from being burned at the stake by a Senator who is literally on a witch hunt. Some great character actors were cast in the roles of the big baddies in this film. Julian Sands from the 1989 film Warlock (and a few other films offering a taste of the truly bizarre, like Boxing Helena, Naked Lunch & Gothic.) & Eric Bogosian in the part of smarmy Senator. Bogosian exudes the perfect air of putrid politician manipulating the masses. Before long Lovecraft finds clues that link his client’s unlucky husband to the Senator’s campaign, but of course things get hairy for Harry when he tries to get to the truth behind the politician’s seeming obsession.
Not often can a story mix so many genres and make it work, but Writer Joseph Dougherty does just that. These flicks are fun and fiendish, and a great way to spend a night in in front of the tube. As a huge fan of Hopper, it’s hard to go wrong with his movies (okay, maybe a few misses among his movie career. Texas Chainsaw 2…shudders.), but he dove right into the roll, bringing the acerbic sleuth to life. These flicks may be a little hard to find, but they are well worth the watch.
Well, it’s been reel..er, real, my demented darlings. Your mad movie maven – Ruby