If you know the name of Charles Band, you know what to expect when you see his name in the credits as the executive producer.  His studio, known as Empire Pictures ( which would later change to Full Moon Entertainment) made quite a few low budget schlock horror films in the 1980s, including such notable ones as Troll and Dungeonmaster.  The stories were anemic, but the special effects were good for such cheap productions, making them adequate fodder for video rentals and late night cable staples for the horror-loving junkies (such as we). This time we are taking a stab into his, several years too late, a “New Wave” horror film.

The premise of the film revolves around a contest put on by music station R-TV (Rock Television), whereby seven lucky winners are taken up to an old Italian castle in order to compete for a chance to win a million dollars, while also rubbing shoulders with stuck-up, alcoholic rock superstar, Cassandra Castle (played by Bunty Bailey). The only rules are that they can’t leave the castle for any reason or they will be disqualified, and they are discouraged from damaging anything on the property. For this momentous undertaking, R-TV sends their most popular VJ Rex (played by Richard Blade), but only one camera. At this point the movie seems to be nothing more than one long 80s music video. To add to this claim, contestants are consisted of 5 blonde girls, one ugly guy and one gay looking Italian. And they are all too anxious to start their search for the hidden check.

You rang?

The owner of this castle is certain person with appropriate name of Senor Diablo. Obviously evil servant welcomes contestants to the castle and takes them to a tour in which they can see a statue that will clearly come alive. Also someone is watching them through crystal ball. Anyway, they are accommodated each in their own room. Italian guy Tony (played by Marcello Modungo) starts hitting on everything that has two legs and tits. The ugly fat guy Harlan (played by Michael Zorek) started eating the moment after he unpacked his stuff. Myrna (played by Martha Demson) has brought rifle with herself (she is safari lunatic). Tom (played by Harold P Pruett) and Jackie (played by Gail O’Graidy) are making plans to search together for the check (naturally, they are brother and sister), while Teri (played by KIm Ulrich) just dances in front of sinister looking painting.

Now this is the art

Although the contest officially starts tomorrow all of the contestants decided to bend the rules and start their search for the check the very same night. All but Harlan who came down just because he got night munchies. Boy, he likes food. Yvette (played by Traci Linn), on the other hand, is much more hungry for a money. She seduces Rex into giving her a clue of where the check should be (she doesn’t know it is hidden between Cassandra’s tits). Slutty approach always gives some results. Hey, everything is allowed while cameras are off. And they will stay off since camera crew never got to castle. I don’t want to spoil your fun so check below for what happened to them.

 

Following the clue she got from Rex (the check is hidden somewhere on the first floor), Yvette started her search. But she has no clue about what is actually going on. She takes a break and sits on some antique chair. Which devours her! Meanwhile, always drunk Cassandra stumbles into basement where she finds a big pile of skeletons. Which also came alive. Everything in this castle is something. But, unlike Yvette, she lived to talk about that. Of course that no one would believe her. She is such an alcoholic that when Rex angrily spilled her liquor she started licking the floor.

 

The game has officially started. Everybody is looking everywhere. That’s good excuse for Tony to enter the rooms where girls are. He found the check but got distracted by Cassandra’s nudity. She took that opportunity to hide it once again while evil servant was kicking Tony’s ass out of the room. But the check has it’s own ways. It is controlled by Senor Diablo through a crystal ball. And Tony must pay for his rude behavior. The check flies out onto the top of the castle while Tony is pursuing it without paying much attention where he steps. How this scene ended I think all of you can presume.

 

While everybody is running around like insane Harlan takes this opportunity to do what he likes the most – to eat. He orders and gets entire pig for himself. Soon after he is convinced into validity of old saying “You are what you eat”. That’s right, my friends. With just one swift move of the hand above crystal ball Harlan was turned into a pig! I would say that he doesn’t look much different now in his new form. Teri sees him and runs away into her room where she gets devoured by creature from the picture. I believe it was Satyr. Anyway, she wasn’t the only one who ended her search in her own room. Camera girl Jamie (played by always charming Dale Wyatt) was strangled by electric snake her camera produced! She ain’t so pretty no more. Nor is Myrna, who became prey instead of hunter. At least she killed that fat guy who had turned into a pig.

 

The only remaining girl Jackie stumbles upon a secret Senor Diablo’s (played by Adam Ant) hideout. There he explains to her that he is a demon and that all those who had fallen to his vicious spell casting are down in hell. Meanwhile, Tom had finally managed to score something. And that person is Cassandra. Let’s see…drunk, scared, washed-up rock star, with low self-esteem. Easy target. She decides to burn the check in a fireplace but instead the check scorched her (?). So she appears at Senor Diablo. It turns out that Cassandra had traded her soul in exchange for becoming rock star. Also, she was bound to bring to Senor Diablo more fresh souls. Wanting to save her brother Tom, Jackie offers her souls in exchange for Tom’s safety and million dollars. A lot of dumb, unconvincing dialogs occur followed by awful acting. Eventually, Cassandra takes the gun and shoots crystal ball, thus forcing Diablo to reveal his true form. Every contestant is alive again and walks into the room. It seems that Cassandra has made a new contract, and Senor Diablo is now new VJ, Cyril St. Michael. What a stupid ending.

 

Conclusion: Spellcaster’s attractive cast, impressive effects and make-up, and relatively light delivery are about the only aspects of the film that make it watchable schlock for those who enjoy cheesy, b-movie horror. The plot of the film isn’t very well thought out at all.  It’s not quite clear how people could win the contest, but even if it were explained, the chance that a brother and sister could both win out of (presumably) millions of entries is ridiculous to believe. It’s amazing how many ideas were squandered in the making of this film.  For a movie centering around an MTV-like international music channel, it boasts almost no music whatsoever. I stayed through the closing credits and counted two generic-sounding songs used in the film, both sung by artists I’ve never heard of. They say you can’t have too much of a good thing, but apparently, Charles Band can’t get too much of a bad thing.  He would repeat the movie’s basic premise again in 1990 in Meridian (two American students go to Italy when one inherits a castle, and strange things occur), and in 1995 with Castle Freak (an American couple and their daughter inherit a castle in Italy, where strange things occur).  There may be others, but with hundreds of movies to his name, I don’t have the diligence to do the research.  It shouldn’t come as a surprise to learn that Band owns the castle in question.  A man’s home is his castle and his castle, his movie set.

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