Spellbinder (1988) from Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski)

Spellbinder is not a good movie, but it actually has an interesting and twisty plot with some surprises. Because of that, Spellbinder is one of those films where one must stop short of giving too much detail, because the surprise twists are the only real pleasures in what is otherwise a clumsily directed movie. In fact, even the revelation of the twists is clumsy. Along the way, it seems to be an episode of a TV show. In my opinion, the script might have produced an interesting guilty pleasure film with some macabre imagination and a better sense of pacing and suspense. Somebody with the right sensibility, like Roman Polanski for example, might have turned this script into a terrific little film. As it is, it is just too tame to be anything but a light watch if you're grading papers or something. It isn't gory or suspenseful, and it gives off no creepy supernatural vibe at all.

By the way, the script was written by Tracy Tormé, whose father was ol' Mel, the Velvet Fog himself. At about the same time he wrote Spellbinder, Tracy also wrote several episodes of Star Trek: TNG, and he has continued to script thoughtful sci-fi to this day, as a writer on Odyssey 5 and other projects.

The basic premise of Spellbinder is that a young lawyer saves a beautiful woman from a coven of witches by rescuing her from a spooky dude in a parking lot. He lets her take refuge in his house, based on the general concept that if the head warlock actually had any power, he could have taken the girl back right there in the parking lot. Not only did he have his alleged magick, but he had a knife as well, while the lawyer had nothing. So what's the threat?

It seems that the lawyer underestimated the witches. I suppose the Scary Head Witch dude was just having an off day in that first encounter. Even witches slump. At any rate, the witches eventually figure out what's going on, and they want their hot babe back, so they embark upon a systematic campaign to harass the lawyer. As part of their fiendish plan, the witches give him the ol' razzberry on his answering machine. As if that weren't terrifying enough, the coven places a curse on his favorite basketball team, the L.A. Clippers, so that they embark on several losing seasons. 

If I tell you much more, I'll spoil completely what little value the lightweight film has. Suffice it to say that the Clippers do not win the NBA finals.


This film is not available in Region 1, either on DVD or on tape.

The Australian DVD is completely satisfactory. It has no widescreen version nor meaningful special features, but the full frame 4:3 transfer does the trick.

  • The Aussie DVD info can be found here.

  • The U.S. distributor's home page can be found here.

  • If you are thinking of buying DVDs from outside your region, read this first.



Kelly Preston, then 25 or 26,  showed her exquisite breasts in three scenes, and also did a sexy, saturnalian dance wearing only a diaphanous nightie and a thong.

The Critics Vote ...

  • No major reviews online


The People Vote ...

  • It grossed $2 million in the USA
The meaning of the IMDb score: 7.5 usually indicates a level of excellence equivalent to about three and a half stars from the critics. 6.0 usually indicates lukewarm watchability, comparable to approximately two and a half stars from the critics. The fives are generally not worthwhile unless they are really your kind of material, equivalent to about a two star rating from the critics, or a C- from our system. Films rated below five are generally awful even if you like that kind of film - this score is roughly equivalent to one and a half stars from the critics or a D on our scale. (Possibly even less, depending on just how far below five the rating is.

My own guideline: A means the movie is so good it will appeal to you even if you hate the genre. B means the movie is not good enough to win you over if you hate the genre, but is good enough to do so if you have an open mind about this type of film. C means it will only appeal to genre addicts, and has no crossover appeal. (C+ means it has no crossover appeal, but will be considered excellent by genre fans, while C- indicates that it we found it to be a poor movie although genre addicts find it watchable). D means you'll hate it even if you like the genre. E means that you'll hate it even if you love the genre. F means that the film is not only unappealing across-the-board, but technically inept as well. Any film rated C- or better is recommended for fans of that type of film. Any film rated B- or better is recommended for just about anyone. We don't score films below C- that often, because we like movies and we think that most of them have at least a solid niche audience. Now that you know that, you should have serious reservations about any movie below C-.

Based on this description, this is a C-. Weak movie, poorly directed, but with some pretty cool twists in the last five minutes.

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