By David Hiltbrand
March 23, 1992 12:00 PM

Showtime (Sat., March 21, 9 P.M. ET)

A recently deceased thug (Anthony LaPaglia) materializes to deliver a warning to his cousin (Judge Reinhold): “Whatever you do, never, never go to Istanbul.” That’s a brackish little town in North Carolina, not the gateway to the Orient. So of course Reinhold heads there posthaste to find a comically accursed place full of superstitions about witches and animal infestations. He also finds himself falling for his cousin’s mistress (Rachel Ward), an inordinately beautiful bowling-alley doxy.

The tale of a bumbling hero being led around by the nose by a femme fatale while strange minor characters act out unpredictable behavior to a kooky sound track is reminiscent of Jonathan Demme’s Something Wild. But Black Magic’s Southern sorcery and dark humor are so delightfully far off the beaten path that you need a flashlight to find your way back. Grade: B+