Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Rare Rip-Off Flix: The Spell (1977)

At last, we dive deep into some crazy TV trash.  Today's film is The Spell, a Made-for-TV Rip-Off of a much more famous film.  What film?  Well, let's get to that...a bit later.  I'm such a tease.  This 1977 Film tells the tale of a young lady who is picked on by her classmates for being fat...which she really isn't, but whatever.  You'll never guess how she lashes out at them!  So yeah, it's basically Carrie.  As was noted in one review I saw of this film, it was kind of a smart marketing move.  You see, there was no PG-13 back in the 1970s, so the market for Horror Films like Carrie was hurt by the strict R-Rating (assuming you didn't just use your Fake I.D.).  So if you knew that people were big for a film like that and couldn't see it in Theaters, just make your own!  It is also worth noting that its Director and Writer mainly did this kind of stuff, although the later did some pretty bad ones like The Omen IV (plus Poltergeist III).  The film has some hilariously-dated aspects to it and one Supporting Player who would make it big a bit later.  Is this a hidden gem or something that never should have made it past Betamax?  To find out, read on...
Rita is picked on for being...fat, I guess.  I don't question the idea, just the way she actually looks.

The Ice Cream Man at least shoved a pillow in the kid's shirt- try harder!
After one of the 'mean girls' picks on her and shows off her 'stripper-in-training' skills, she suddenly falls to her death...I think.  They aren't clear on that last part.

The real question- why did she fall?
The notable Supporting Cast Member is the one that plays Rita's younger Sister.  That Star- Helen Hunt!

Before she would be Mrs. Jack Deth, she was the snotty little Sister to Not-Carrie.
When the odd behavior of Rita and some strange circumstances in recent times, the mother starts to investigate things...when she's not fighting with Rita...or her husband...or Helen Hunt.

Laser-like focus, people!
She goes to see the Mom of the girl who died earlier who...dies about as fast as the guy in Paranormal Entity.  She dies in a much sillier way by being set on fire internally (I think) and running through a glass door with smoke leaking from her pores.
Now more driven, Mom...continues to get dragged into family drama.  Yeah, this is much less Carrie and more August: Osage County.

In a movie that they just borrowed from Suspiria (branching out), the Gym Teacher is involved in some sort of Cabal that may involve Rita.
The explanation involves the California area being a well-spring of Psychic Energy.  Is it stored in the San Andreas Fault?  Can we see Psychic Quake this year on Syfy?
As a Carrie rip-off, there is...no Prom Scene.  No, they threw that away by having Hunt say that 'Everyone was afraid of her' after the fall, so this won't happen.  Kudos?
Instead, the Mom confronts Rita, with this seemingly-becoming the pre-Prom bit.  It flips the Script, however, by the Mom actually being a powerful ESP User herself and subduing her daughter.

Of course, she did all that research when she was by herself (and got that lady killed) to fool...the audience then?  Lame.  The End.
Damn, this one is...kind of oddly-put-together.  While obviously being 'inspired' by Carrie and Suspiria, this one focuses so much on the family drama.  You get people fighting, people fighting and...people fighting some more.  I guess this is kind of real, given how one person can throw the whole dynamic off in a small, tightly-knit group.  The problem is that this just makes the movie feel like a slow crawl to a point rather than something interesting.  The most interesting part- the lady dying from internal heat- is actually shown twice (when the Medium sees Mom's memory of it...I think).  It says something when you are replaying a Scene so quickly- perhaps it is the TV Movie Medium (the other one).  The Cast does a good job with it, even if it has a real Soap Opera quality to it.  Fun Fact: the Mom (Lee Grant) appeared in this, Airport '77, Damien: The Omen II and The Swarm in a 2-Year Period.  Oof!  Susan Meyers (who played Rita) would appear in small parts over the next 20 years and be a Voice Actor on the Anime Battle Athletes (whatever that is).  What helps the film (in a weird way) is its hilariously-dated and cheesy Score, which just sounds like a PSA is playing out at all times.  Is it a better TV Version of Carrie than the Bryan Fuller one?  No, not really.  That one is consistently silly, has Carrie summoning meteorites and features the 'Silent Hill!' girl.  Other than one silly kill, the best thing this has going for it is an early (and odd!) example of Godwin's Law...
Next up, let's keep the 'Haven't I Seen This Before?' Train going with a film lingering in my Queue.  Can you make Teen Witches that don't help their friend rap?  Stay tuned...

No comments:

Post a Comment