Thursday, March 3, 2011

The Spell (1977)

The Spell

Written by Brian Taggart
Directed by Lee Philips

Rita...Susan Myers
Kristina...Helen Hunt
Glenn...James Olson
Marilyn...Lee Grant

Rita, an overweight 15 year old girl, is bullied by her peers.  They call her Tubbo and Moby Dick, and seem to get a special thrill from humiliating the girl in gym class.  After one of her tormentors, a popular blonde bitch, suffers a freak "accident" while showing off during the rope climb, it becomes apparant to the audience that Rita had something to do with it.  She has somehow developed inexplicable telekinetic powers, and she's not against using them to gain vengeance against those who have ridiculed her--be it schoolyard peers or blood relations.

Yes, it's a cheap, made-for-television Carrie knock-off that was rushed through production when some marketing genius realized that most high schoolers were too young to see the R-rated feature in theaters, but they would probably flock to their couches to see the Next Best Thing.

Although sometimes the Next Best Thing really isn't very good at all.

After the first "accident" occurs, there is a long 30 minutes or so where I was sure that I was watching an after school special about tedious teenage rebellion, not something that was billed as a horror flick.  I began to think that maybe it really was just an accident, and the synopsis of the film I read was a blatant lie.  Perhaps Rita was going to develop an eating disorder to lose weight, only to realize that she wasn't only hurting herself, she was hurting others as well.  Like a feature-length version of that very special episode of Growing Pains.

And then this happened...

...finally putting us back on track.

It's not a terrible movie, but it's not a very good one either.  Although the pacing is the main problem, there are a few others that rear their ugly heads from time to time.  It was poorly edited, a few scenes leaving me scratching my head as I attempted to piece together the plot elements that were left on the cutting room floor.  And the final showdown, while pretty well done, is patently ridculous if you put too much thought into it.  So I reccomend that you don't.

If you're a die-hard fan of Carrie, do yourself a favor:  Watch Carrie again.  But if you're a die-hard fan of Mad About You, and you absolutely must see everything that Helen Hunt has appeared in (she plays Rita's 13 year old sister here), well...then this one's for you.

Not Rated
86 Minutes
United States



  1. There were a whole slew of these in the wake of "Carrie"- it's easy to forget how influential and mimicked that movie was during its day. I had forgotten about this one, though.

  2. Bleaux,

    Thanks for stopping by! I had never even heard of this one until I stumbled across it by accident when browsing the Netflix Instant Watch listings. I think it's still available, if you're interested.



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