Earlier this week when I discovered that The Lamp was indeed The Outing, I subsequently remembered that I actually owned it. It then seemed fairly logical that I should watch it for this week's VHS Friday. Here goes.
A group of school kids break into a museum overnight just as the evil spirit inside an ancient lamp is unleashed.
The Outing was surprisingly not terrible. Although the setup was rough - I remember thinking if the whole movie is like this oh boyo - but it did manage to mostly redeem itself by the end. I thought the design of the lamp with its little hand stopper was pretty snazzy and the story committed to its evil jinn lore. I mean, its powers were erratic and confusing, dispatching people in simple or elaborate ways with no consistency, but the death-by snake sequence was pretty bad ass. I'm surprised that scene doesn't come up more often when horrorphiles talk about phobias in film.
Mostly, I really have to hand it to the producers on this. I have no idea how they finagled their way into Houston's Museum of Natural Science. I imagine the basement stuff was shot elsewhere, but there is a good chunk lensed inside the museum that added a ton of production value.
The characters were pretty stock, but there were some entertaining flourishes like the security guard who belted out Puccini at length - he actually takes a bow post credits - while doing his rounds. I also have to mention the villain Mike (Red Mitchell) who was so cartoonish that I'm surprised they didn't give him a mustache to twirl. I think I must have muttered “who does that?” several times while he was onscreen. His story line eventually led to a completely unnecessary rape scene during which he was dispatched in a very dissatisfying way. Even his underling had a more gruesome death.
At that point, The Outing was a wash, but then director Tom Daley brought out the big guns - the Jinn itself. The creature work by Gabe Bartolos and his team not only looked great, but they also showed a lot of it. That was enough to win me over. I so had this movie pegged as one of those titles where the coverbox is the best thing about it, but colour me surprised. Sometimes wishes do come true!