Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Sam Spade Meets Dagon

Cast A Deadly Spell 1991
Director: Martin Campbell
Writer: Joseph Dougherty
Starring Fred Ward, David Warner, Julianne Moore, Clancy Brown, Charles Hallahan, Alexandra Powers and Lee Tergesen

Hard boiled detectives and Horror are two of my favorite genres and I am always intrigued to see something that melds the two together. One that comes immediately to mind is Barker's Lord of Illusions and the two lovecraft detective films produced for HBO, Cast A Deadly Spell and Witch Hunt. They combine the wealth of hard boiled crime with the mythology of the cthulu monsters created by the classic H. P. Lovecraft. This is a great film with great performances all around, especially the lead role personified by Fred Ward one of my favorite underrated actors. The dark humor, the horror and the action all make this film a delight to watch.
The plot basics are this, Phil Lovecraft (Ward) is a private investigator in 1948 Los Angeles where magic is a commonly used thing in this reality, though Lovecraft refuses to use it. He is a down on his luck detective and is hired by a rich man, Hackshaw (Warner) to find a book he has lost, the Necronomicon. Lovecraft begins his search and runs into his old partner as a policeman Harry Borden (Brown) who owns a nightclub and seems to be up to no good and he sees his ex girl, Connie (Moore) as a torch singer for him, As Lovecraft digs deeper he sees that everyone involved wants this book for nefarious purposes. It all leads to a demonic showdown at the end, where anything can happen.
This is a great amalgamation of the detective genre and supernatural horror, with some great comic touches thrown in too. The direction by Campbell is great and I can see why he went to great things as Goldeneye and the Zorro films. The writing is funny and sharp, and all the characters are written tightly and you get a real feel for all of them. The acting is all great as well, Ward is great as the haggard P. I. and he has great comic timing throughout. Brown and Warner as the villains are great too, they are suitably over the top. Moore is very sexy as the femme fatale and you never know where her loyalties lie. The effects are great with some great puppet work done throughout. I especially loved the scene with the gremlins, that was classic. If you like film noir and Lovecraftian horror, I highly recommend this one.
This one gets 4 out of 5

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