CAST A DEADLY SPELL (1991)
Cast a Deadly Spell was heavily influenced by the works of H.P. Lovecraft (the main character is named after the venerable author), but it's not based on any one story to the best of my knowledge. It merely sponges the tendrils of his creations. The Necronomicon and The Old Ones play an integral role in the storyline, which is far too elaborate to synopsize in a pithy capsule review. I'll just impart the nuts and bolts of the premise. Set in 1948, Spell is a ghoulish film noir that follows a quick-witted detective (as portrayed by Fred Ward) who is assigned to track down a stolen tome previously owned by a well-heeled eccentric. Oh, and it's a parallel universe where magic - both black and white - is commonplace.
Diabolic divination and Lovecraftian overtones add spice to what could have been a sluggish mystery. Technically, this is a made-for-TV production, but it premiered on HBO. So it looks slick stacked up against the CBS teleplays of the day. The acting is superlative, the dialogue is tapered (we get loads of quotable one-liners) and the creature effects are solid. A unique diamond in the rough, to be sure. Complaints? Nothing weighty, although the humor is needlessly childish at times. Most people don't realize that there was a sequel, but there was. And it starred Dennis Hopper. And it will be the next movie that I review.