Directed by: Tom Daley
Written by: Warren Chaney
Starring: Deborah Winters, Andra St. Ivanyi and James Huston
Reviewed by: Josh G.
It's no picnic.
As if 1981's Scream wasn’t overshadowed enough by the Wes Craven classic of the same name, that film’s alternative title, The Outing, was also chosen for this supernatural slasher trash. Also known as The Lamp, 1987's The Outing wasn’t very fresh for the time; slasher fame was fading and it wasn’t anything groundbreaking. However, I find myself enjoying it more for its other qualities, such as the setting of a museum as well as a killer genie. ‘What an awesome concept!’ I thought. This was before the Wishmaster series, so using a djinn as the main baddie of a body count movie a decade earlier sounded like a fine icebreaker for the suffering horror genre. Considering its obscurity today, I’d say that it failed at creating impact, but it was definitely one permissible and fun find for the unsuspecting buyer.
Three burglars break into an elderly Arabic woman’s home to steal her fortune. When all that they find is an old lamp, they chop an axe into her head. Joking around, one of the robbers rubs the lamp, accidentally summoning an evil force so powerful that it kills the trio one by one. The possessions of the deceased old woman are moved to the city museum where Dr. Wallace (James Huston) examines the lamp, which catches the attention of his daughter Alex Wallace (Andra St. Ivanyi). Alex goes to school the next day with boyfriend Ted (Scott Bankston), but the two run into a bit of trouble when her bitter ex Mike (Mark Mitchell) tries to attack them. Brushing him off, the two join their four friends on a school trip to the same museum that her father works at. Alex sneaks into her Dad’s office but is suddenly overcome by the evil genie of the lamp. Working through Alex, the monster convinces her friends to stay the night in the basement of the museum, making sure that vengeful Mike and his brute buddy overhear. Thousands of years kept it locked up in its prison, and now that it has escaped, it is time to spread a little terror, starting with the deaths of some mischievous partying teenagers.
The Outing is proof that not all entertaining slasher films have been released on DVD yet. That’s not to say that this ranks up with the best B-movies, but a body count that rivals some of the later 80s’ Friday the 13th quantities surely has a soft spot in my heart. The atmosphere is well found in the museum of The Lamp, but I think that the exciting setting here could have been abused so much more. A caveman exhibit? Nowhere to be found. How about those Native North Americans? I don’t recall. Vikings? Forget about it. There’s a dinosaur, pottery, a decaying body, and some torture tribal masks. It’s enough to give off the feel of a museum, and I know that all films have budgets, but I think that more care could have been spent in giving theme to the scenes. Although the basement would be the more realistic place for the teenagers to hide out in, which they do, the main level of the museum is what you are hoping to see after reading the summary for The Outing.
Alex looks far more mature than a teenager, but it’s 1987. Of course she does. All that matters is that she’s charismatic and happy, which makes the contrast between her and her possessed self noticed clearly. Her five friends are fairly bland – the token black couple, the doomed best friend couple, and Ted, Alex’s worried but supportive boyfriend. Not even the bully, ex Mike, has any standout qualities but the fact that he’s a horrible human being. He roughs up girls, purposely smashes into cars, and tries to rape one of Alex’s friends. There are absolutely no redeemable fashions about this guy. The weird-as-fuck security guard is more enjoyable than Mike, and he sings opera all night long! It’s a very strange character trait to add to a horror film, kind of like having a mime in a Thanksgiving slasher (Home Sweet Home).
The first half of The Outing, with the exception of the exciting burglar opening, shows exactly what the movie is – a bad film with bad acting and uninteresting people. However, although it never actually becomes a top horror contender, it pulls off a strong mirage in the second half with mind-distracting special effects, fog and ‘slashing incorporated’. The deaths in The Outing are similar to that of Terror in 1978, or some of 1982's Superstition’s supernatural events. It’s often a plus when the killer goes beyond a person in a mask, and the makers of The Outing have used this to their advantage. Flying spears, body snapping, head crunching and finger biting! I never could steer away from the beauty of a floating object. I think that one of the most memorable deaths would have to be when the djinn uses living things (of the past or present) to murder the group. He makes the decayed mummy return to life so that she can eat one of Alex’s dearest friends. Even poisonous specimen snakes enter the party, crawling into a nice warm bath with a girl who was bound to die anyways – after all, she did show us her boobs, let alone the fuzzies! The Outing actually contains all the nudity on the list, male and female. For a video release, it’s doing excellent on its own.
I’ll give The Lamp a free pass. Even when it has bored us with tedious things from the first hour, the all-punches last resort complete with a giant demonic genie chasing the survivors down a smoky colored hall more than makes up for it. Cheesy glowing green eyes have convinced me that this is good trash, and according to the trash handbook, good trash is...adequate. International Video Entertainment Inc. (aka, IVE) has presented a respectable video release with an R rating, though I have a feeling that there may be an uncut version concealed somewhere in a long lost vault. Where teachers can nearly castrate students with big rulers and get away with it, the world of The Outing is a remarkable one time affair. Twice if you’re really appreciative of this stuff. No matter how racist Mike is, or how many characters actress Deborah Winters plays (three), The Lamp will entertain, and dammit, you will respect the glamorous puppet genie! Rent it!
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