Back when TV movies were still cheap affairs, the Home Box Office Network (HBO) started striking out into original films. This was one of the earliest: A 1991 production, heavily promoted at the time, mixing classic gumshoe detective noir with magic, monsters, and a huge pile of stars.
The result is this oddly forgotten movie that retains its charms - magical or otherwise - decades later, requested by loyal listener, Nathan. Whether you're a fan of the detective, fantasy, or horror genre, there's something in here for you. Check it out!
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Cast a Deadly Spell (1991)
Episode 275, 2 Guys and a Chainsaw
Todd: Hello and welcome to another episode of Two Guys and a Chainsaw. I’m Todd.
Craig: And I’m Craig.
Todd: Today, we dive into another request. Uh, this is a request by Nathan. And as soon as Nathan sent us this request for Facebook, I was like, my goodness. This is a blast from the past. He asked us to do 1991’s Cast A Deadly Spell, which is an HBO original movie that I have childhood memories of not this movie, but of the promise of this movie.
Went back during the cable days, my parents generally speaking were too cheap to get us the premium channels. We had cable, but we didn’t have Showtime. We didn’t have HBO Cinemax, anything like that. But what we did have every now and then was the free preview weeks.
Craig: I remember those. Yeah. Oh my gosh. They were so exciting.
Cause they would play like all these great movies and you could tape them on VHS and have them forever,
Todd: um, forever. Exactly. And it would be like your first exposure to these premium channels. And so like these channels would be free for the week or for the weekend. And they would just be like an event for us.
Like the TV would just be tuned to HBO or Showtime or whatever that whole week. So we could just Gorge ourselves on whatever it was they were showing. And then in turn, those networks are promoting the hell out of everything they had because of course the goal is to get you to subscribe and pay the extra to, uh, to get those channels.
Right. I’m pretty sure that during one of the HBO free preview weeks, this movie in 1991, I would have been in middle school. They were promoting the heck out of it and it looked so intriguing to me. It’s like a 1940s gumshoe, kind of Sam spade, Philip Marlowe, detective era type story, very new nuanced.
But with magic. Like a world where magic exists and happens and is quite normal, normalized, and they’re fantastic creatures and things like that. And as soon as he requested this, I was like, oh my gosh. I’ve always wanted to see that since I was a kid, I never did meant I’d never did watch it back then. I don’t know if it was because it was on too late or it was a little deemed, a little too adult for me and my parents didn’t let me, or I just never got around to her during that week, but I never did get to see it.
And so how great of an opportunity to go back and see this movie that I don’t know, like I’m surprised anybody else remembers because it’s one of those things that you never hear about, even though it has like a thousand famous people in it. And, and this movie, this subject matter, I mean, my goodness, it could have been.
In this era and probably been very successful because these are the kinds of things we’re seeing now more often, I think, than we saw back then, these crazy mashups with heavy on fantasy horror and quite a bit of humor as well. So super excited that Nathan or requested us to do this. And, um, yeah, I think when he, when he requested it, he said, uh, I don’t know if it’s really a horror movie or not.
Uh, it’s a little bit of everything, you know, and horror is definitely part of it. So it’s definitely in our wheelhouse. I think Craig had you seen this movie or even heard of it? Uh,
Craig: I don’t know, but it’s funny that your description of how you remember it, because I it’s just vaguely familiar to me. And I think that that is why I think I saw it advertised, um, whether it be for the free week or whatever, I just feel like I must’ve seen the trailer or something because it did look vaguely familiar.
I do know for sure that I had. Seen it before, but it does have a lot of people in it that are highly recognizable. Uh, the main character is played by Fred ward who has been in a bazillion things. I always remember him from, um, Tremors. He was great in Tremors and the Lily Tomlin, Bette Midler classic, Big Business.
He was in that.
Todd: Uh, he’s a real man’s man. I’ve always been here is
Craig: oh yeah. Yeah. And he’s great in this role, like it’s perfect casting, so good. He plays this old school detective. Yeah. I mean, he’s, he’s perfect for it. And then Julianne Moore is kind of the Vixen of the movie, which this has to be one of her first roles.
Like she’s very young. The, you might not care. You might not have anticipated that. She would go on to be a highly regarded film actress.
Todd: After this film, you mean,
Craig: uh, Clancy brown, uh, is, is one of the villains in the movie and he’s been in. Tons of things, lots of horror movies, but, um, he was excellent as like the head evil guard and Shawshank redemption. And he was the evil stepdad and pet cemetery too. Like you’ve seen him everywhere. He still works.
Todd: Oh yeah. And you know what, when I was, I was kind of scrolling through his IMDP credits.
I had no idea he’s done more voice work than anything else. Really.
Craig: He is like
Todd: all over television cartoons for doing voice were pretty much like Phineas and Ferb and all like amazing Spider-Man and the Superman cartoons. Like it seems like, I don’t think there was a single superhero cartoon that he hasn’t done three or four voices for H well, he doesn’t have a great voice.
Great. He does voice. Yeah. Yeah. And then the ability to change it around a lot too, he had a, he had a good presence in this movie. He was really sinister and cool.
Craig: Also, I mean, I have no idea how old these people actually are, but compared to the other things that I know him from very young, uh, seeming in this movie, even Warner
Todd: is in this David Warner.
Craig: fantastic. And I feel like we’ve done movies that he’s been in before wax work. Yes.
Todd: Yes. Um, whole body, if David Warner ever passes. And of course he will someday we’ll have a lot to choose from. I think, you know, he was even in scream two. Did you know that? I don’t remember
Craig: him in that interesting
Todd: Titanic, my goodness video games too, that guy he’s everywhere.
And Harry Potter, right? He was. Wasn’t he in the Harry Potter movies? I don’t know. I thought he was maybe I’m wrong. I don’t know. You amazing. One of the few British actors who wasn’t in a Harry Potter movie coming up. Yeah. These names here. Right. And then, um, the movie is, uh, directed by a man named Martin Campbell.
And this was not his first directing gig. He did a bit of, quite a bit of TV before this different episodes of things he went on after this just a couple years later to direct golden eye, the mask of Zorro vertical limit, the legend of Xero and the James Bond reboot in 2006 casino. Okay, so he’s no slouch.
Nope. And then the writer, Joseph Dougherty, who I get, what I read in here was that the script had, had been passed around for 10 years. He hasn’t done too much since that actually, uh, I mean, he’s done things, but nothing really recognizable, just some TV episodes and some things here and there. And I’m quite surprised.
Honestly, because I don’t know, like, I’m just going to say it. I found this movie charming and just fun it’s light. And it was kind of delicious in the way that it balanced. I thought like the horror with the fantasy, with a lot of comedy and the movie didn’t take itself too seriously, which I really enjoyed because a movie like this that starts to take itself too seriously could have been silly.
And this movie. But I think it’s intentionally silly. It’s silly in a really good way. I mean, the main character’s name is H Philip Lovecraft, the perfect blend between Phillip Marlow and HP Lovecraft. And of course the whole plot is really inspired by Lovecraft and sort of that world. And we even get to see the Cthulu, the old ones at the very end.
This is what kind of the plot is all centered around. But again, in a world where magic in a 1940s, the USA where magic is commonplace and people can use it if they’re willing to and interested in it. And our detective being the hard-boiled hard nose, typical against the grain guy that these Philip Marlowe-type characters are.
Doesn’t have any interest in that. And we hear that from the very beginning. So
Craig: I got to tell you I’ve been, um, a little reluctant about. This about talking to you today because you hate it. No, I’m in a really, I’m in a really weird, I feel, I, I don’t think that this has ever happened before. Okay. I didn’t like it.
And really at all, I’m not really sure why, like, cause it’s not poorly made. Like, I think that it’s it’s well-made I just didn’t like it. Like I thought it was boring. And stupid
and I, well, and like, there were a couple of things about it that I found problematic and they’re small things. They’re not anything that I’m going to get like caught up on or like, rant about, but it just didn’t work for me at all. And I, and I knew like watching it, I knew I’m like, Todd’s going to like this and I’m going to have to try to explain why I don’t.
And I don’t really even under like, but seriously I was bored.
Todd: Bored. Your kid is Nope. Not let me, let me
Craig: find it. Okay, hold on one, one last thing, one last thing, like you said, it’s all these things. It’s fantasy it’s horde. I don’t know that I would necessarily call it horror, but if you’re going to call something like, oh gosh, I don’t know.
There are definitely horror elements. Like there are monsters and there’s magic. And like you said, there’s the whole HP love craft influence, which by the way, I don’t really know how you get into HP. Kraft mythos and have it be boring. Like I don’t even, it is, but when I could tell that it was supposed to be a comedy, but I didn’t find it funny at all.
Like the parts that I could tell were supposed to be funny had absolutely no effect on me. Like, well, that’s not funny.
Todd: I wouldn’t know. I would see now I wouldn’t go so far to say, as it was supposed to be a comedy. I mean, I would say that it, it was highly comedic, but I wouldn’t say it was supposed to be a comedy in that I feel like it was such a direct.
Homage to Raymond Chandler that it can’t help, but be silly because that stuff is pretty silly, especially when you take it off of the page and put it on the screen. I mean, people talking in these wise cracks and quippy and the attitude and the kind of over complicated plot and just the sheer sort of wideness of it, all that it’s going to be silly.
And so I just feel like the director acknowledged that. And so he slipped some jokes in, I don’t feel like. The comedy through and through. I just thought it was sort of a had comedic elements that were intentional. Yeah. I mean, I’m going to put you at ease. I, it’s not, like I thought it was the best thing I’ve ever seen for sure.
Or I have to ask you, I mean, you being the English teacher, have you read much Raymond Chandler, have you read anywhere? No.
Craig: And I, and I think that that might be a big part of it. I haven’t read this type of stuff. I’m aware of this John rhe cinematically, but I don’t know that I’ve ever watched any of it.
I was in a play once. I think it was called LA. The Butler did it, or I think the Butler did it or something like where were you in that place?
Todd: Yeah, I think we were in it together.
You played the Lamar low didn’t you, you played a character that was supposed to be based off a film. Marla was like Phillip spade or Sam Marlow or something.
Craig: I’ve completely blocked it out because it was so dumb. Like it was like, it was fun to do, and it was fun working. Like we worked with great people, uh, our, our, our dear, dear friend, Ron directed it.
And, um, it was, it was a lot of
Todd: fun too. Wasn’t it? It was,
Craig: it was, it was fun to work with those people, but the play was so stupid that I’ve completely blocked it out. So maybe I don’t, that, that may have a. Thing to do with it just that I’m not a fan of the genre. And I imagine that people, probably people more our dad’s age, or maybe even our granddad’s age, you know, when this was really popular, they probably have got a big kick out of this.
It just didn’t resonate with me. I don’t know. It’s hard. It’s hard to appreciate a throwback when you’re not really familiar with what they are throwing back to. You know what I mean?
Todd: No, that’s totally fair. And that may explain why. I was so taken by it because I could not believe how, I mean, I was going back and I was looking at the credits and I was looking in Wikipedia because I was positive that this was just direct directly based off of one of his novels.
I just felt like I had. The whole plot before. And I think that’s because many of these plots are basically the same and they’re so fun. Craig you’d should you should. And everybody who’s listening you, if you’re, you should just read one Raymond Chandler novel. It is an experience unto itself. It really is.
The writing is so it’s like too clever for its own. Good. You know what I mean? It’s so delicious, really clever. And the things that people say to each other and the way they talk to each other are very economical and witty. Nobody ever in the history of mankind talks to each other like this. So he’s created his own little world and it’s also this world filled with vice in one novel will, you know, this detective who has all these problems, who is an alcoholic who.
Has somehow in his heart just is trying to do the right thing, but everything’s kind of against it. And he really doesn’t give a shit anyway, cause he’s kind of on his last buck going into the world of vice gangsters and prostitution and pornographers and all of that stuff. Just matter of factly thrown at you, even air, I guess, where I wouldn’t have expected that, but maybe that’s just my naivete.
You know, we, we tend to think two things are different today, but really they’re not that much different. And so, you know, this movie was just packed every bit. It was like, it was like the novel place to screen. And then with the added twist of all of these, the magical kind of elements to it, which, you know, you could have stripped that out and you would have still had the same plot.
You can take the MacGuffin, which is the Necronomicon. Uh, that they’re, that he’s ostensibly trying to track down that everybody’s looking for and replace it with anything else that’s valuable and you could take all the magic away and you’d basically end up with the same plot. Yeah, that’s true. So I thought that that was just a nice little twist to it and that’s what kept it kind of fun and novel and interesting to me, a, I liked the source material B I recognized it was so faithful to source material that was just delicious to see on screen, uh, and then see the added layer of the magic and things, and which made it so goofy that I was really glad to see that they weren’t trying to play it so straight.
And then that is what works. In that regard. So
Craig: I get it. That’s why I feel bad. Like, I feel like it should’ve worked for me. I feel like I should have liked it too. And I just didn’t know. I feel guilty cause I mean, like I get it, I get the whole detective scene and I feel like I’ve seen other movies, probably spoofy or movies that are kind of like this, that I’ve enjoyed.
And I liked the magic element. I thought that they were trying a little too hard sometimes because not only does everybody use magic, but everybody uses it all the time. And I feel like they kind of felt the need to continuously remind us of that. Like there are these like, yes, like all these panning shots of like crowds and you’ll see like waiters pouring drinks with the pitcher floating.
There’s a lot of floating things going on. I’m like, yeah, Yeah, whoever they should. I hope that they credited like the wire holder in the credits because there was a lot of floating objects stuff going on. And there was other little stuff like silly, really insignificant, like you said, they could have cut it completely out.
And the plot would have been the same, but like there’s a scene with gremlins that I thought was kind of hilarious.
Todd: That was pretty goofy. Yeah.
Craig: It was goofy. But obviously this came out after the, you know, it did Richard Donner do gremlins who Joe, Dante. Yeah. This came out after that. And obviously the gremlins in this movie take a tiny bit of inspiration from the gremlins in that movie.
Um, but it was kind of cute and silly and funny. And I liked that and there were other magical things that I thought were kind of cute and stuff, but there was also a lot of focus on. A lot of talk about or suggestions about HP Lovecraft. And I’m a big, this is weird too. Especially coming from an English teacher.
I’m a really big fan of the HP Lovecraft universe. I find him really difficult to read. Have you read any of his stuff?
Todd: I have and, honestly, yeah, it’s hard.
Craig: Yeah. It’s not like the mythos is so entertaining and then you read this stuff and it’s so dense and like, I mean, I’ve read it. I want to be aware and I enjoy the stories, but sometimes they’re kind of hard to get through, but yeah, I was hoping for more of that.
And frankly, at the end, when it all culminates like this stuff, either, I like the idea of the Necronomicon and that of course has, uh, infected pop culture. You know, you hear about the Necronomicon all over the place in horror and elsewhere. Um, I liked that idea and you know, the idea of the old ones, um, or the outsiders or whatever, with and, and others, I thought that was cool.
And I was looking forward to it coming to fruition at the end. And then I was just kind of like down and maybe that is a budgetary restraint, I don’t know, but like the big ancient monster that shows up at the end, I refer to him. In my notes as the butthole monster. Cause he just looked like a big,
Todd: I think that’s actually how HP Lovecraft referred to him.
Gooey butthole rose from the depths of
Craig: butthole. Yep. Yep.
Todd: Um, yeah, I will admit like the other thing about it is, is as, as ambitious as the movie is it does feel kind of low budget and small, you know, I mean, in, in a production quality standpoint, I think, and I’m not sure why, because like you said, it’s competently filmed, the sets are pretty and gorgeous.
There’s a very dramatic lighting and things. But I guess maybe it’s just like, we never, we never really get these like scenes with a lot of people in them. You know, he’s overarching crowd scenes are big chases down the street with whole lots of people. Really. I don’t remember
Craig: one big set piece, which is the Dunwich room.
Um, which again is. Throwback to the Dunwich horror, HP Lovecraft, but, and it’s like the swanky forties club and I, and that was cool. Like I enjoyed that environment and like, um, Julianne Moore is the lounge singer there and, um, she’s clearly lip sinking and I looked this up. That is not her voice. Um, Julianne Moore can sing or not, but it’s not her voice.
And she’s clearly lips thinking and. Like it’s super exaggerated. Like, did you notice that it looks like she’s trying to sing for a deaf audience? Like my
Todd: well, and there’s a good five minutes of just her face on the screen. She’s gorgeous.
Craig: She’s young and beautiful. And I really honest to God. I’m a big Julianne Moore fan. I think that she’s a fine, fine actress and she’s a beautiful woman. And, uh, but this is not a showcase of her talent. She looks great. But she’s still a little wet behind the ears in this movie, which is fine.
She’s young, she’s getting started. She goes on to do amazing things and she has a very well-established career. So I’m not putting her down for it, you know, early in her career having a less than stellar performance, but it is less than stellar,
Todd: less than still. Well, I mean, to. This is an HBO original movie at a time when, I mean, now you say an HBO original movie and we’ll be like, all right, yeah, show me what you got.
You know what I mean? This is a network, you know, game of Thrones, you know, they spend millions and millions of dollars on a single episode, but back then it was different. Like, it was a very novel kind of thing for these cable networks to start dabbling in producing their own content. And usually is fairly low budget, usually kind of, you know, lower budget actors yet.
Anyway, they’re cutting corners somewhere. This is coming out of that pedigree and it feels if you were to compare it to all of that, it actually is. It was one of the higher production value ones, especially. I mean, it’s produced by Gale Anne Hurd. So maybe that has a lot to do with it, but it still somehow retains that field that
Yeah, exactly. And that’s, if you look it up anywhere, you look it up on an MTV, you look it up on IMDV or you look it up on Wikipedia and it’s listed as a TV movie. And technically it is, but these cable networks, and I don’t even know, I mean now with, um, streaming services, streaming services are producing their own content and it’s depending on the film and depending on the service, you know, of a varying quality, but you get some really quality and higher budget, sometimes stuff.
This just feels, it feels like a TV movie with a better budget, a TV movie with better cloud, because they were able to get bigger names attached to it. But it still kind of has that TV movie feel a little it’s better. It’s better than what you would have seen on network television as a movie of the week.
It’s better than that, but there’s still a little bit of. Feel. Oh
Todd: yeah, I totally understand.
Craig: Well, and that was the other thing too. Like how is this rated R I don’t get it. Like, yes. I can’t imagine that today. This would be rated anything higher than PG 13. I totally agree. I have no idea. It does. I mean, I don’t recall there being much, if any swearing,
Todd: no, no nudity and no sex, which is, yeah.
I mean, there
Craig: there’s implied sex. Yeah. I mean, it’s HBO. I mean, you know, this is the, at the same time that this came out, they were playing dream on, which was like a huge sex comedy. You would think they would have pushed. And, and there is, you know, uh, Fred ward and, um, Julianne Moore spend a night together, but there’s, there’s nothing like you see about the smooth.
In the shadows. Yeah. Yeah. And then in the morning, Julian Morrison her nice little nighty with her hair is still perfectly quaffed. And like he gets out of bed, he sleeps on a, hide, a bed in his office. Um, he gets out of bed and he’s wearing like these huge 1940s boxers and like a wife beater, like there’s, there’s absolutely nothing.
And the effects, like even the monster effects and the kill effects are they’re, you know, they’re serviceable, they’re fine. But they’re not super gory. I have no idea how this got an R it almost seems like it’s, it feels like a PGCert it feels like an intentional,
Todd: right. It feels like they’re trying really hard not to throw anything too, too bad in there that kids couldn’t see, or, yeah, I agree with you there.
I totally agree. I don’t know. There are a couple of gory scenes. There’s a scene where a guy gets death by like a thousand paper cuts. It’s pretty great. Kind of,
Craig: but I mean, it doesn’t, you know, when he’s, yeah, it’s all magic. So this guy’s in a bathroom and he’s getting threatened by this goon or whatever.
And the goon, like, I don’t know, snaps his fingers or something, and all these shreds of paper, like cyclone around this guy and you get the impression of what’s going on because like the paper and the pieces of paper start to Redden and stuff. And then eventually he falls down on the ground and you can see that his face is all cut up.
And I suppose it’s gory, but it’s not like it even looks real or anything. You know, it looks like a dummy or it looks like pretty good makeup. It doesn’t, I guess, I mean, I guess that might trouble an eight year old
Todd: at that time. Anyway. I mean, you know, we’re a little more loose on the, on the ratings, I think nowadays, but I mean then there’s the, there’s that one scene in the.
Where there’s like a demon monster conjured up and it’s a scary demon monster. I don’t know if that counts for anything. It’s a, it’s a soup monster. Oh, come on. It was right out of
Craig: Elvira. Was the casserole monster jumps out of a pot and tax some guy. And yeah, I guess the aftermath of him, like everybody, like they defeat the casserole monster by like knocking it into the kitchen freezer or whatever.
Like it’s not much of a battle. And then the detective and this kitchen worker are just like standing there, surveying the mess and the guy pops up behind them and he looks. Kind of gross. I would say you’re right. That I’d kind of forgotten. That’s probably the grossest one, but even still, certainly not R rated material in 2021.
Todd: way. Not 21 for sure. Yeah, no take, take your eight year old to see this. It’ll be totally. I
Craig: would, I would show this to kids. I almost feel like kids would like this better.
Todd: But the kids wouldn’t be able to follow it. There’s no way they’d be able to find barely able to follow it. That’s kind of the Raymond Chandler thing too.
It is hard to follow these plots because it involves remembering people’s names and making inferences when the characters are saying stuff and it’s like, Jimmy pulled one over on Charlie. When John did this to them such and such, then you double crossed him because blah, blah, blah. And you’re like, what?
Oh God, go back to the beginning. Who was that again? But I mean, the basic plot is and
Craig: okay, good. I was going to say, but see, that’s the thing too. Like we, we should at least mention what the plot is, but I feel like you can do it in 10 seconds
Todd: beat for beat. Well, I wouldn’t say there’s not much to it.
Craig: Well, this, this heart knows detective gets hired by a rich guy to track down the Necronomicon that’s been stolen from him.
And as it turns out, this like mobster type thug is trying to get his hands on the Necronomicon so that he can summon the ancient demon. Uh, to take over the world. And as it turns out, the rich guy and the mobster are in on it together. And it all culminates at the end when they get their hands on the book and they draw up the demon.
But because of some silly flub in their plan at all, it goes awry period. That’s it? That’s the whole plot.
Todd: No, but you can summarize every movie quickly like that, but I mean, a lot of stuff goes down in between, I mean, to get us to, from beat to beat in that point. Right.
Craig: Okay. Let’s see
Todd: you got shoe.
Let’s see. There’s a woman who, well, woman who obviously from, from the moment you see her is actually a man dressed as a woman. I don’t know if that was supposed to be a big reveal at some point or not, but, uh,
Craig: no. And that’s one of the things that bothers me. Like I, I understand that this was made. In 1991 and I get that it was set in the 1940s, but in, in 2021, even in 1999, like this is all putting a man in a dress, just, I mean, it’s it’s and, and, and making that a joke and a key part of this plot, like, especially since, like you said, it’s entirely evident, not that there’s anything wrong with that, whatever, but it just seems like a cheap bit.
And eventually the, the, the main guy who presumably were supposed to like, um, HP Lovecraft interviews, Person and before even verifying, I mean, it’s obvious before even verifying, this is a man in a dress and a wig, like punches him and knocks him out and then calls him a fag and like, come on. You’re better than this, like this, this movie should be better than this.
It’s just cheap. And I ha I don’t know.
Todd: I mean, it’s, but this is, I mean, I think you hit the nail on the head 1940s, and also this is typical Raymond Chandler stuff. I mean, I’m sorry, but back in the 1940s, you know, homosexuality, Ooh. You know, that’s another one of those things like, oh my God, like they’re gay lovers and she’s secretly, I’m a man.
And that kind of thing, this just fits right in with that wheelhouse. I mean, there would be something like this and half of his novels, you know, so I didn’t think it was cheap. I just thought it was being very true to the source material and try to squeeze all that in. And I don’t think it was really treated so much as a joke.
Actually. I kind of. That he seemed not too surprised. I mean, I felt like it was actually more like, come on. Like there’s no way that any of us watching this movie right here playing out in front of us and seeing this man and women’s man in women’s clothing are going to be tricked.
Craig: Yeah, you’re right.
You’re not lying. Honestly. This movie may have been a little bit ahead of its time because this was a trans woman. She lived her life as a woman. She only dressed as a man like dressing as a man was a discussion. For her to get a hold of the Necronomicon she’s she ends up being the one who stole the book on behalf of her boyfriend and her boyfriend was stealing it on behalf of this mobster club owner or whatever, but she was in a relationship with this guy that worked for, uh, Clancy brown, the mobster guy, but her partner convinced her to dress as a man to get a job in the rich guy.
Place as the chauffer to get, you know, inside and get what they needed. So you don’t, you, you didn’t see a lot of trans representation in 1991. Um, and I feel like we’re talking about a, a transgender person in this movie. Um, so I guess
Todd: there’s that. And wasn’t he trying to hit on the 16 year old Virgin daughter of the guy who, well, that’s
Craig: what he says.
That’s what a Dame David Warner’s character Amos hack Shaw says may not be true. It may not be true. He brings in the detective, um, Lovecraft. There was a chauffeur. His name is Larry Willis. I fired him. Why I have a young daughter. Mr. Love craft is all I have now. I loved her mother very much. She wasn’t a strong woman.
So we moved here to California for the climate. We thought it would help. It did not. Olivia is a mother died bringing her into this Saudi world and I’ve dedicated myself to protecting her from its more unfortunate realities. She’s only 16 years of age. Mr. Love craft, which makes us quite vulnerable. So she’s an experienced, I prefer the word pure, the purity that charms all things and blinds them to the trap and the bow didn’t like the way Willis was looking at her, I felt removing him from the property would be enough, but I underestimated the unmanned.
He took something with him when. So, obviously it’s not true. You know, this is a trans woman, who’s in a relationship with a man. Um, but that’s what he says. And he says, you know, the guy stole something, he stole my book or something and he took off and I need you to find him. That is the job that Fred Ward’s character is, is doing.
He’s trying to find this guy. And there’s a lot of investigation to find this guy. Of course, it’s, uh, impeded because this guy
Todd: is a woman.
Exactly. We’re not even sure. I mean, I don’t know. I didn’t even pick up that. That was the person early on. Yeah.
Craig: I spoiled, I spoiled it for myself because I was looking at the cast list and obviously the same actor plays both roles because it’s the same
Todd: person. Yeah. I didn’t quite catch that. So it was, it was a bit of a shock.
Not that this person, you know, was, was transgendered, but that this person, you know, was the original person who stole the book. So that was a, that was a bit of a reveal for me. And like this whole setup in the beginning where he goes, the rich guy hires him to find something. And then he wanders on downstairs and finds the rich guy’s daughter.
Who’s like coming on to the detective and teasing him and toying with him. This is straight, straight out of, um, is it the long sleep or the big sleep? I think it’s called the big sleep, a Raymond Chandler novel. And you know, that’s kind of. What he does is he sets up all this, like they’re all these characters and they come in and they’re like all interested in each other, but they’re all sort of coy with each other.
You know, she comes on to him and she’s like, oh, did my father hire you to do this? And he’s like, well, that’s, you know, maybe what’s happening. And she’s like, oh, you don’t know the ride you’re in for whatever. And he’s like, well, why don’t you tell me what you know, she’s like, no, I think you’re the kind of guy who likes to find the stuff out for yourself.
So I’m not gonna say anything, but, uh, then there’s all the suggests and you want to sleep with me or whatever the twist in this movie is that she’s like actually a Virgin and he knows it because only virgins can hunt unicorns. And he’s been seeing her running around hunting unicorns. And I thought, oh my gosh, that’s so cute.
It’s such a funny little twist while still remaining true to the source material and maintaining this mystery. I still don’t know what this woman knows. You know, I thought it was kind of cool. I don’t know
Craig: that’s the, that was, I said there were a couple of problematic parts. The, the presentation. Where the representation of the trans character bothered me a little bit.
And again, not so much that I’m going to get caught up over it because I understand it was a different time, but this bothered me too, because you keep referring to her as this woman, she supposed to be 16. Now, obviously the actress that plays or is not 16, for sure, I would guess in her early twenties, maybe, but not 16, but the fact that she supposed to be 16 and she’s kind of, kind of presented as a very sexual being from the very beginning.
And then the, her virginity is pivotal to the plot. It just kind of just kind of gave me the heebie-jeebies like gross. Like he, Fred Ward’s character. Lovecraft though he plays it very hard nose and like, you know, stone faced. There’s still banter between the two of them. That is. Flirtatious, you know, like I didn’t get the impression that he was out to bang her, but he, and maybe he was just playing along with her because she was very flirtatious and kind of sexual and her demeanor.
But Fred ward in this movie is at least in his thirties and yuck. And then I, like I said, the plot hinges on her virginity and the end. The twist. It’s not even really a twist because you see it coming a bizillion miles away. It’s just kind of like that morose,
Todd: see, this is why maybe, you know what I think it is.
All right. So, so first of all, this is Raymond Chandler type material through and through. I mean, it just goes into this territory. It is just, that is the world. And I think maybe, you know, a lot of those movies were made in the movies based on his material were made in the forties and fifties, you know, where things had to be watered down in a movie form, you know?
And so I feel like the kind of detective gumshoe type stories that we’ve seen based on his work is a very, what has been historically kind of a watered down sort of. Simplified and slightly more chased version at best. Maybe they’re illusions that, you know, are going over most people’s heads. And this is a movie where I finally saw it kind of like laid out there, you know, like they, weren’t afraid to go to that territory because that’s where the books would go.
And I thought that to me, it didn’t, it wasn’t cringey because I was expecting it. I was right at home in this world from the very beginning. And that’s why I enjoyed it again. Like I said earlier, it just, I liked being plopped into that, uh, for the first time in maybe ever really, oh God, this might be one of the most faithful Raymond Chandler adaptations I’ve ever.
Craig: I think I’m just hung up on the whole 16 and like I’m a high school teacher. So I’m fully aware that some 16 year olds are sexual beings like this. This does not come as a shock to me. Yeah. Some not me. Like God, I was years away.
Well, a couple of. But, uh, it’s not so much that at 16, she’s a sexual being. It’s that the people she has these interactions with dark hair, her own adult, like just gives me the heebie-jeebies. That’s it I’m over it. The actress was of legal consenting age. So it’s all good.
Todd: Well, it turns out that just to talk more about the complication, the plot, it turns out that the gangster was given a blank book, which is fine because you know, when he’s good, the goons corner, the guy who delivered the book to him, um, in the bathroom, give him death by a thousand cuts.
He has given him fake money. So that was just a deal that was going to go south both ways anyway, and then it is this, um, gosh, what is the woman’s name? The trans woman is Lily. So Lily is the one who actually has the, oh, we don’t know this for a while, but Lily is actually the. Who has the real book and is now kind of on the run with it.
And she doesn’t really know what’s happened to her lover, but she has a pretty good suspicion. Right. Um, and ultimately she’s the one that Fred Ward’s character Lovecraft is trying to track down. Um, but he has to do it by going to meet the gangster. And the gangster happens to be a former partner of his, when they were both on the LA police force.
And so his partner went gangster, you know, he went
Todd: brown, he went private eye. You know, since we, we brought up the magic, I thought this was one of the iconic things. When I saw the promos for this movie, when I was a kid, is that he has this zombie thug, just this big gunning guard, big, huge black body guard did is he looks like, um, basically like an African-American version of Tor.
Oh, you know, he was in the Edward movies, a plan nine from outer space, you know, that big wrestler with a kind of white eyes or just stumbles around. He was, he was like one of those earlier B movie monster guys. But anyway, he kind of looks like an updated version of that. And I thought it was cute. So there was the magic and there’s also this idea of the zombies.
And he had this, this dialogue back and forth. It was like, oh, so you’re using zombies. Huh. And what happened? Your regular leg breakfast
Craig: progress. Zombies don’t eat. Don’t complain on good ideas, but they start to smell after a while. Take good for three months, depending on the. And they begin to rat than what
Todd: they’re you get some more 30 bucks ahead come fresh from
Craig: the west end D six, two bucks.
Yeah, that was funny. And I did like it. I mean that, I mean, that’s such a small part, but I liked it too, because it seems like these are the actual, like Haitians on B mythos, not like the ambling eat your brains. Bombies but like just the mind control. Zombies. Um, and that guy, he was, I mean, he was very big and scary.
Todd: Yeah. He was a good character for as little as well. He
Craig: didn’t say any, but he had a very commanding presence,
Todd: but then you see the zombies later because it turns out that a big connection that he ends up making that leads him to this woman revolves around some Villa.
Craig: This is
Todd: Bo ne, which is under construction right now, which is supposed to be the first all magical community.
And it’s supposedly also built entirely by magic, which means they’re using the zombies to build everything. And as a Fred Ward’s character is talking to the representatives of this Villa on the property. You can see the construction going on in the background that he zombies and you can see they’re not the best workers.
Some of them are just like falling face first into the cement, the banging into each
Craig: other, like they’re randomly, they’re just dropping dead. Like.
Todd: And so
Craig: cute. That was kind of funny. I didn’t understand. I mean, like I understood the overall connection, like apparently displaces special, like, um, they end up needing to do this final ceremony at this place, but I didn’t really understood what drew him there because ultimately like he goes there and he doesn’t really find anything.
Like, he just randomly talks to like the property manager. And then I guess he gets some information from her that he needs. I don’t remember what it was. And then he leaves like, it’s just to let us know. That they’re going to have to go back there later. But I did like the, uh, the, that was pretty
He puts a connection between two people together there because it’s, he finds the paper about Vista Bonita in a, a room that was rented from the old man who has the gremlins in his machine, which is where, uh, the guy who had taken, um, the stolen, the Necronomicon had stayed for a little while. So when he visits there, he finds a connection between that guy and one other character.
I can’t remember it might’ve been actually, oh, that might’ve been where he found the connection between that guy and his boyfriend. Yes. Yes. I think that was it. I mean, you have to pay really, really close attention. If you hope to find. The thread of the investigation. And, but anyway, yeah, it all kind of culminates in that.
So he tracks down this woman. Finally, he, you know, there’s this little kind of romantic subplot of course, going on between him and the nightclub girl, um, which is very typical, right. They had a relationship in the past and then he ran away and she’s upset about it.
Craig: And now she’s with his ex partner who is the mobster like that.
I will give it credit for that, that everything is connected. All of these disperse characters are connected intimately in some way. So Connie, the lounge singer used to be with Lovecraft, but now that, you know, they, something happened with them and she’s not with him. And now she’s with the mobster, but it seems like she’s not really happy with the mobster.
And there’s a whole thing where she comes to his office slash apartment and like they have. Dialogue. That’s very silly, but very apropos of the genre. See, look, everybody compromises, everybody cheats, everybody uses magic. So the MPI deals out of their pockets and get out of a job, sticking it to the neighbor for the sticker to them, because that’s the way it’s done to all of which I say nuts.
My collar might be a little afraid. Maybe I need a shoe shine. Nobody’s got a mortgage on my soul. I own it free and clear. Not going to apologize for my life. Then ask you to I’m happy. The way things are glad to hear. You got to look ahead to can’t drag around the past. There’s nothing you can do about it sounds like you got a real good grip on things.
It’s so convoluted. That’s my understanding. I’m not as familiar as you, but that’s kind of my understanding of how these things work. They are convoluted. Like it seems like she’s double crossing her lover by being with the detective. But the truth of the matter is she’s really double crossing the detective because the lover knows about it and like it’s all set up.
And then as it ultimately turns out, she’s double crossing them both because she wants the ultimate power. That’s going to be granted by these ancient gods or whatever. So she’s very much this Vixen who, you know, appears to just kind of be arm candy and then love interest and reluctant partner. But all, ultimately it was her game all along.
Like she knew what she was doing and it was all for her and it’s contrived, but I’ll give it credit for being true to.
Todd: Yeah, but, but can we both agree? It’s not a simple story.
Craig: Uh, I guess I get it. I mean, because it’s convoluted, but like all of this stuff I have in my notes, like, you know, she goes, I don’t remember where they meet.
They meet somewhere, but, uh, she and the detective and they ended up going back to his office and like, she’s got. Tough with him for a while, but then she, you know, she gives in and they kiss and, and they’re kissing for a while. And I just have, in my notes, this is so boring. Like there’s so much dialogue.
I’m like, uh, like, come on. I’m a poor yet on my mind,
Todd: I felt like the movie felt long. It was an hour and a half. It felt long. Yeah. I think it felt like. For me just by the sheer amount of stuff that was jam packed into that hour and a half, they are just all over the place. And there’s so many characters and so many things to have to pay attention to.
And if you really want to follow the plot, listen in, you have to be really tuned in to hearing exactly what they’re saying. And then remembering the names that are being thrown around and stuff like that. So that made it feel pretty long for me. And then eventually they come up to the final act where all of this basically gets revealed right in the last 10
Okay. So the rich guy, David Warner, uh, his character’s name is hack Shaw turns out. He was working with the mobster guy all along. And the fact that the book got stolen from the rich guy that was like their bump in the road. So the rich guy hired the mobster to get the book, but the mobster was always going to give the book back to him.
And that’s where we ended up at this Vista Bonita, uh, where this ceremony is going to go down. Hack Shaw is going to become. Like a God, like he’s going to become one of the old ones
Todd: or something. The idea is once they unleashed us on the world, then because they’re the ones that unleashed them, they’ll become gods and be given their own planet or something to fulfill with fire and brimstone or something.
Craig: Um, Borden, Clancy brown is going to get to be the ruler of earth and yeah, earth is going to be a terrible hellscape, but he’ll be the boss. So that’s great. So they were all in on it together and all along hack Shaw has intended to sacrifice his own daughter. In fact, that’s why he had a daughter and raised her and was so exactly.
And so she has to be a Virgin for this to work. So they, the girl double crosses her lover Borden. She shoots him and she’s like, no, I want to be the God of earth or whatever. Then, um, I dunno, the detective. Takes her out and not kills her, but like disarms her or something. And Hacksaw is doing the ceremony and the ground starts to shake and it starts to split and this fire light is coming up and eventually this giant butthole comes out the ground within.
It is like, yeah, it’s a monster. Like it has a body and a face, but like most of its faces its mouth. And it’s just a big gaping butthole. Like they’re all just kind of standing there, looking at it for a second. And then it shoots like a tentacle out of its butt hole and like grabs, um, the, the rich guy hack Shaw and like pulls him in and eats him.
And then it just sinks back down. And as it turns out, the reason that this whole thing failed is because the virginal 16 year old daughter, the guard, the police guard that, um, the detective had sent to protect her with
Todd: our thought, which I thought was totally
Craig: obvious. Like, you know, it’s, it’s like the monster squad when they think that girl’s, sister’s a Virgin and you know, she’s not, and of course the whole thing fails.
So I knew that was gonna happen. And like, honestly, it didn’t even so much bother me that she hooked up with the guard until Lovecraft. It says something to the guard. Like, I guess you weren’t really thinking about your wife and the 16 year old girl is like, you have a wife and he’s like, oh, whoa, yo. But like gross middle aged, married man bone, his 16 year old charge.
Like that’s disgusting.
Todd: I thought that was hilarious. I thought it was gross. Gross. That’s what makes it hilarious? Look, I mean, these, these stories, these novels are all about. Everybody is just bad and despicable people who are into disgusting despicable things, and they’re all slowly marching to their own destruction and they all do each other in, because they’re all super selfish, you know?
I mean, that’s what it’s all about. And, and that’s what you get here at the end. You know, it’s just this, uh, I mean, happier ending than, than most of these actually. So
Craig: yeah, I mean, and that’s just, it like the cases over, like he goes back to his. Office. And he’s like, things are safe for now because I have the book and that’s, that’s fine.
Uh, as, as much as I say, I haven’t seen these types of things. I feel like if I haven’t seen them, I’ve at least seen them portrayed and other things. So I know that’s kind of how these things work out. Like in the beginning, you’ve got the detective with the voiceover. I should’ve known, she was troubled.
The minute you walked in my door and then at the end you get, well, that’s one more for the good guys. I guess I get it. I get the formula. I don’t know. It was just a little too much for me. I didn’t know anything about this. Um, and, and really, you know, in looking up interesting things to tell our listeners, I really couldn’t find all that much about it.
I did. Yeah. I did see that there was a follow-up now I’m, I’m reluctant to call it a sequel, but I guess it’s a SQL of sorts, but it’s not indirect continuity with this movie. There are some recurring characters, but they don’t even have the same backstories and stuff. And, uh, in that it’s set in the 1950s and.
The red scare and communism and mix all the magic in with it. But Fred ward doesn’t return and instead is replaced by Dennis Hopper. Now that would be nuts.
I know anything that has done as operated as nuts and, uh, to this hopper said, and in a television interview, once that he thought that this was the wildest movie that he’d ever been in Dennis Hopper
Todd: was that you got to see it. We have to, I’m looking at the capitalist now, Penelope Ann Miller, Julian sands.
Craig: I dunno. So it did get a follow up, but, um, I don’t know. I don’t feel like this movie is very well remembered. You know, I never hear anybody talking about we, I, except for you, you have mentioned it to me more than once. And, uh, we did get the request and again, honestly, I had a good time talking about it. I always say that.
And I I’m, I’m really not being disingenuous. Like I really do enjoy talking about these things. I have a lot of fun doing this. We wouldn’t do it if we were having fun. Um, but I, I. I didn’t like the movie, but I do appreciate the request. I never would have watched this if it weren’t for that request. And, uh, I I’m glad you have watched it.
It’s something that I was 99% on aware of, but it’s got people in it that I really like. And it was an experience because I didn’t enjoy it. I wouldn’t watch it again, but there were little things about it that I did enjoy, and I had a good time talking about it with you today. So
Todd: thanks Nate. Yeah, Nathan, I thank you very much for this blast.
From the past, for me, I was delighted to be reminded of this movie and given an excuse to go and hunt it down and watch it and be able to talk about it’s the icing on the cake. I think this movie is ripe for. You don’t need to remake this movie. You could just make another movie like it, I think. Yeah. If it had come out today in this particular creative climate, I think it would have gone over way, better than me.
It might’ve just been a little ahead of its time, which is to its credit
Craig: right. In the era of like Harry Potter, like, oh God. I would totally fly today.
Todd: Absolutely. What we’re seeing stuff like this anyway, and TV shows and things like that. So it would, and, and I, I personally enjoyed it. I just, because I think, again, I’m familiar with the source material.
I liked seeing it played out on the screen. So faithfully, it was a joy to see these characters and these actors that I know very, very well. It was fun to see the inside jokes, even the little magic tricks and things in the background. Yeah. It was a little corny and cheesy at times. I will admit that, but I appreciated the effort and I, I found some entertainment value in that.
I thought of it as just a little. Kind of fun little romp. Yeah. It
Craig: is light
Todd: for that. I really enjoyed the movie. Would I go back and watch it again? I’m not sure I would spend another hour and a half doing that, but I might recommend it to a friend or if I had a friend who was particularly well suited to this kind of movie who I felt like had to watch it, I would totally sit down and watch it through with them.
Fair enough. Well, thank you so much, Nathan. Again, for the request. If you have a request, please send it our way. You can just Google two guys and a chainsaw podcast, and you can find our Twitter feed. You’ll find our Facebook page to find our YouTube channel. Hopefully you’ll also find our websites and just leave us a message in any one of those places.
Also refer us to friends. Please share the love. We always enjoy getting new listeners until next time. I’m Todd, and I’m Craig, with Two Guys and a Chainsaw.
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