Genie in a Bottle
Only in the 80’s could you make a teenage horror film about an ancient Djinn set free from its lamp to kill nubile, necking teenagers, and a lick of any of this would be taken seriously. This is the story of The Outing (aka The Lamp), and it is the film being explored today.
A lengthy prologue, set back about a hundred years, establishes that some mysterious middle-eastern woman has a magical bracelet that connects her to a magical lamp that contains a killer genie. Someone tries to mess with her and gets summarily dispatched in a messy way. Cut to modern times (the 80’s) and a trio of cracker rednecks have it mind to rob said lady of her money that she must have hidden somewhere in her mansion out in the woods. Big time mistake. They unleash the genie after killing the woman and they all die grisly deaths. The police come, box up all the stuff in the house, some of it ancient, and ship what looks valuable to the local museum where a famed archeologist Dr. Wallace (James Huston) does his all of his research. His daughter, Alex (Andra St. Ivanyi) stumbles upon the bracelet, puts it on, finds it won’t come off, and gets subsequently possessed by the genie. She convinces her friends to break into the museum at night so they can party (Chopping Mall-style). It is there that the genie gets unleashed yet again to cause mayhem and bloodshed. Eventually, Alex breaks free of her possession and must dispatch the demon once and for all.
Like I said, only in the 80’s.
The Outing was a pretty fun film, filled with lots of boobs and plenty of blood. The deaths were fairly gory and original and kept me pretty entertained. The pacing was a bit off and sometimes the movie dragged, but there was always a glowing-green-eyes moment around every corner to signify coming carnage. The genie itself was a cool creature but wasn’t very articulate. I think if they’d had it appear more human and less like a sculpture, they might have really been onto something here, maybe even a franchise. At a time when all the killers were wise-cracking like Freddy, this might have been an obvious move. They kept it serious, though, and in a way it’s more endearing. The Wishmaster series would later capitalize on this idea, but I think The Outing is superior to that group of films. Yes, it’s basically a story we’ve seen a dozen times or more—teenagers go someplace they shouldn’t to party and get naked and then start getting killed—but the setting is pretty unique and the killer itself is totally unique. This one was a lot of fun, check your brains at the door, and sometimes that’s just fine.
I wouldn’t call this a lost classic, but it most certainly is a midnight-movie on Saturday night, big bowl of buttery popcorn and candy kind of flick. It’s like drinking a good soda; it tastes good, you like it, and sometimes it really hits the spot. But then you forget all about it.
Two and a half Stars out of Four