Cast a Deadly Spell

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Cast a Deadly Spell
Directed by Martin Campbell
Produced by Gale Anne Hurd
Written by Joseph Dougherty
Starring Fred Ward
Julianne Moore
Clancy Brown
David Warner
Charles Hallahan
Alexandra Powers
Music by Curt Sobel
Edited by Dan Rae
Distributed by HBO
Release dates
  • September 7, 1991 (1991-09-07)
Running time
96 min.
Country United States
Language English
Budget 6,000,000 $

Cast a Deadly Spell (1991) is a horror/detective HBO movie with Fred Ward, Julianne Moore, David Warner and Clancy Brown. It was directed by Martin Campbell and written by Joseph Dougherty. The original music score was composed by Curt Sobel.


Ward stars as 1948 hardboiled private detective H. Philip Lovecraft, in a fictional universe where magic is real, monsters and mythical beasts stalk the back alleys, zombies are used as cheap labor, and everyone—except Lovecraft—uses magic every day. Yet, cars, telephones and other modern technology also exist in this world.

H.P. Lovecraft influence[edit]

The movie is very much an homage to the works of H. P. Lovecraft. Though not based on any one particular story by Lovecraft, the film features many Lovecraftian tropes, and can be considered to take place against the unified backdrop which has come to be known as the Cthulhu Mythos. The nightclub is called Harry Bordon's Dunwich Room. Frequent references are made to the Necronomicon, the Great Old Ones, Cthulhu and Yog Sothoth throughout the film.

While the film clearly does not take place in Lovecraft's world, it does reference Lovecraft extensively (including the name of the main character), though there are many obvious differences. The most obvious difference is that in Cast a Deadly Spell, magic is omnipresent – everybody uses it. In Lovecraft's stories magic is almost unknown, except to a select few.


HBO produced a quasi-sequel, Witch Hunt. Witch Hunt takes place in the 1950s during the red scare, in which magic is substituted for communism. Dennis Hopper played Lovecraft in place of Fred Ward. Additionally, many characters have different background stories than in Cast a Deadly Spell. For example, Lovecraft refuses to use magic in Cast a Deadly Spell on principle, and because of a bad experience in Witch Hunt.



External links[edit]