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The Spell (1977) - Blu-ray Review

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The Spell (1977) - Blu-ray Review

3 beersBecause you just don't fuck with your mother.  Like ever.  Rita Matchett is about to learn that valuable lesson.

The Spell could have been called “When Fat Girls Attack” because this NBC-made movie is all about teenage revenge when an extra squishy girl is taunted and teased for far too long by her family and friends.  It also, regardless of what writer Brian Taggert (Of Unknown Origin) claims about the script being written before he had any knowledge of Stephen King’s Carrie, smacks of a rather ripe knock-off. 

Thankfully, there are two solid scenes of horror – one being a surprising revelation that you may or may not see coming – that keep this horror flick from sinking to the bottom of the toilet bowl.  The flushing takes care of itself.

And we have the fine young hooligans over at Scream Factory to thank for this witchy flick’s new life in HD.  There’s that and the solid acting from American actress and film director Lee Grant, who gets the final say in this bewitching tale of mother vs. daughter.  She’s phenomenal in this twisted tale of a youth gone wild. 

The Spell, opening with a gym sequence in which a young teenage girl pays the ultimate price for making fun of Rita’s lack of rope-climbing skills and then showboating her talents with fancy (and hysterical) twirling, takes on bullying but suggests that only a teen with occult-like powers can withstand the psychological damaging wordplay.  And, as a previous fat kid who put Chunk to shame, I know exactly what that means. 

Rita is simply surrounded with fat shaming.  Are you sure you want that other pop tart, Rita?  You’ve grown out, Rita.  Rita, Rita, Rita.  Daddy (James Olson) has a favorite daughter and it isn’t her.  It’s Kristina (played by a young Helen Hunt) and she is graced with everything.  And, yes, Rita even turns on her sister with her dark powers. 

Time and time again, it is Rita’s mother (Grant) who comes to her child’s defense.    Except, when her mom witnesses the brutal death of a woman – complete with solid eye-bulging, “flame on!” special effects, and a bizarre dive out of a window – and discovers that Rita has been doing some after school homework on the occult, even she has a limit.  You don’t push against the will of MOM.  And, damn, if she isn’t a force of nature.

Hell, even The Incredible Hulk’s Jack Coven shows up as an investigative paranormal scientist to create some tension where there previously wasn’t.  He taunts Maggie with claims of the paranormal and she pushes back.  I’m still unsure about his overall fate but, yeah, he closes the show with the eerie events surrounding his tape recorder and the incantation of some spell.

No brooms are needed to take flight with this b-movie.  The audience just needs enough telekinetic ammunition to survive the epic showdown in the kitchen of the Matchett Manor.

The Spell has been lifted.

The Spell (1977) - Blu-ray Review

MPAA Rating: Unrated.
Runtime:
86 mins
Director
: Lee Phillips
Writer:
Brian Taggert
Cast:
Lee Grant, Susan Myers, Lelia Goldoni
Genre
: Horror
Tagline:
The Spell.
Memorable Movie Quote: "Goddess of Love, hear my plea."
Theatrical Distributor:
National Broadcasting Company (NBC)
Official Site:
Release Date:
February 20, 1977
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date:
September 5, 2017
Synopsis: 15-year-old Rita lives in an ordinary town, attends an ordinary high school and wants to lead an ordinary life ... but Rita is far from an ordinary teenager. Overweight and self-conscious, Rita (Susan Myers, James At 16) is the victim of cruel teasing by many of her classmates. Only her mother (Lee Grant, Damien: Omen II) and her gym teacher (Lelia Goldoni , Invasion Of The Body Snatchers) seem to understand her. But their understanding is not enough to contain the rage that wells up within Rita. And when it does, the rage causes a supernatural power inside of her to take over. Those who are against Rita begin to die. There seems to be no way to stop the terror once Rita has cast her spell.

The Spell (1977) - Blu-ray Review

Blu-ray

Blu-ray Details:

Home Video Distributor: Shout Factory
Available on Blu-ray
- September 5, 2017
Screen Formats: 1.33:1
Subtitles
: English SDH
Audio:

Discs: Blu-ray Disc; single disc
Region Encoding: Locked to Region A

 

This is a made-for-television film.  Lower those standards a bit.  Even with the 1080p transfer from the best surviving video and audio elements available at this time, much of The Spell looks rough.  There are dirt and debris.  Scratches, too.  True, it is the 86-minute version that many have never seen (and that’s a bonus), but just know that it isn’t a perfect presentation.  To be expected, right.  The only thing that doesn’t disappoint is the presence of a very charming Lee Grant.  She’s a beauty and her eyes, especially with the HD picture, remain piercing.  Such grace!  The Spell is presented in a bewitching 1.33:1 aspect ratio and supports an English DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 track

 

Supplements:

Commentary:

  •  

    There’s a brand new audio commentary by Made-For-TV-Movie Historian Amanda Reyes.  It is very informative.

     

Special Features:

 

There’s a NEW interview with Brian Taggert who talks about the script and, as it was his first script, how it was based on his experiences with his sister.  Originally picked up by a major studio, when Carrie became the major hit that it was, it got its marching orders and was sent over to NBC is one of the stories he tells during this brief interview.

  • Brian Taggert Interview

 

The Spell (1977) - Blu-ray Review

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