"Spellcaster" isn't all that bad of a film, it's just not a slasher.
Winning a trip to Italy through a contest, Jackie, (Gail O'Grady) and her brother Tom, (Harold Pruett) join other winners Myrna, (Martha Demson) Yvette, (Traci Lind) Terri, (Lim Johnston Ulrich) Harlan, (Michael Zorek) and Tony, (Marcello Modugno) settle into their rooms with Cassandra Castle, (Bunty Bailey) a rock star playing along in the contest. Wanting to get a leg up on each other, they all try to sneak out and find the prize before it starts, to no avail. When the contest starts, they start to die one-by-one from a mysterious source within the castle. Figuring that evil forces are at work, the remaining members race to stop the assailant from finishing their work.
The Good News: This one wasn't as bad as it could've been and is actually pretty good. The film has a large collection of really impressive special effects. There really isn't a lot of those effects that don't come off, and they mostly work. The different monsters created look really great, especially the lion-chair. That in itself looks really great, with the constant leather stretching and movement in slow motion combining with the realism for the creature and the fearsome look of it to really make the scenes work. The zombie sequence is one of the film's best, for it's an incredibly creepy scene and features some really good looking zombies. There's some definitive Italian in them, being very deformed and rotting, with grayed skulls, rotting limbs, exposed bone, and tattered clothing. They look really great and the sequence gives them a really nice introduction with their appearance. Having them emerge from the stone walls nearby and slowly creep up on the unsuspecting victim is really nice and the originality of the type of affair is another big reason. There's also a really nifty transformation in here from a human to a pig, and is done in complete werewolf type of order, from the snout emerging from the mouth, ears coming off the head, the hands transform into vicious looking claws and the rest of the body transforms into the creature. It looks really great and completely realistic, making it a real highlight. The film also has a really creepy location, as the castle is quite suspenseful. The large interior rooms, the long hallways, mysterious sculptures and paintings and the secret rooms allow for plenty of nice, creepy images whenever focus is in the castle. It's a really impressively designed place that gets a lot out of it when it's on it. This one really could've been a lot worse.
The Bad News: This film still has some problems with it. Aside from the impressive special effects, there wasn't much else to it. The film takes forever to get going, and the actual pretense of the plot, having the characters knocked off during the scavenger hunt, is started in the last half hour of the film. The introduction to the characters in the beginning takes far too long and really could've been trimmed down. The film's other big problem is in pacing. The main point of the film doesn't occur until it's almost over, and that is a really huge mislead. That almost has the film really losing it's momentum, as it takes forever to get through the set-ups. They rob the film and it's attempts at suspense and that's a real shame. Beyond these, though, the film doesn't really have many things wrong with it.
The Final Verdict: This was pretty good when it wanted to be, and there is a lot to like about this one. This one is not without it's problems, though, so give it a chance if you enjoy cheesy films just like this, but seek caution if you want a little more seriousness in films.
Rated R: Graphic Language, Violence, Brief Nudity and an attempted rape