The Spell used to be some kind of rarity. I was surprised to see it streaming online at Hulu and Netflix. I am glad they picked up this little Carrie wannabe. The cast is awesome. Lee Grant plays the mother of a dumpy 15 year old girl named Rita (Susan Myers), who gets taunted at school constantly. Luckily, she's picked up some witchcrafty stuff and uses it to wreak havoc on anyone who tells her No. Sounds a little like Madonna, don't it? Anyway, her dad (James Olson) and sister (a very young Helen Hunt) don't like Rita that much either, so guess who falls under her spell? Also, mom has a friend that Rita dislikes, and let me tell you, the outcome ain't pretty! Jack Colvin from the Incredible Hulk shows up too as a parapsychologist (seriously, that must be the best job in the whole wide world!) but doesn't do more than act serious and stare down Lee. Still, we love him, don't we?
Fairly low key little slasher with competent effects, The Spell is a good time for TV movie lovers. I actually prefer the other Carrie rip-off, Jennifer a little more (plus that one has Bert Convy!), but I think The Spell will enchant those who remember when this first aired on NBC way back on February 20th, 1977. It was a very good night for television, indeed.
Piece of trivia: I took a class taught by the writer of this movie. His name is Brian Taggert and he's probably best known as the guy who wrote Visiting Hours (also with Lee Grant). What a wonderful man. I honestly had no idea he'd written this! Go Brian!!!
Read more about The Spell at Kindertrauma
Hey, that's Lelia Goldoni wielding that stop watch... Lelia Goldoni of the awesome Theatre of Death, Phil Kaufman's remake of Invasion of the Body Snatchers and a little something that John Cassavetes called Shadows!
I heart LEE GRANT! I also had no idea that this same writer is also responsible for her star turn in VISITING HOURS. Did he talk about her in class?
John, he did mention Lee in glowing terms. He didn't talk about her a lot, but I remember he did really like her. She's a great actress...
This movie also features one of the greatest TV houses ever. Part farmhouse, part Mexican restaurant...I would be very happy there.
Brian Taggert wrote another TV movie for Stonhenge and Charles Fries, Night Cries (Susan Saint James believes her newborn son didn't die but was kidnapped; shrink William Conrad thinks it's all in her head...). I saw it on the box years ago and I remember being glued to the screen all the way to the ferry finale.
Brian Taggert also wrote the feature film "Of Unknown Origin." (1982.) The Peter Weller and the Rat movie.
Could not agree more. This movie is excellent!
I used to watch "The Spell" on TBS back in the 90's and actually hated it for knocking off "Carrie". But watching it now, I love the 70's aura and how it's about teenager life back then. Plus, the good ol' witchcraft topic blends it all together smoothly.
I love made-for-tv movies from that age and I believe this one would make a perfect double feature with "Midnight Offerings" with Melissa Sue Anderson (another excellent MFTV teen witch drama).
Too bad it's not out on DVD or Blu Ray yet. These MFTV gems need preserving!
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