27 January 2010

The Outing

United States – 1986
Director – Tom Daley
International Video Entertainment, 1986, VHS
Run Time – 1 hour, 27 minutes

In the 80’s, one small coastal city in southeastern Texas was determined to do establish itself as a new name in pop cinema, at least on the surface. This tiny breakwater outpost, nestled as it is at the top of the Gulf of Mexico, is just the place where big ideas wash ashore in the warm tropical breeze. The Outing opens to much promise with a healthy dose of sex and splatter. Instead of a good omen, this proves to be the ultimate anticlimax of deception. Its commitment to this premise is quickly abandoned, and instead of the gut crunching horror flick promised in the opening sequence, it abruptly switches gears into an uncomfortable and nonsensical rendition of a teenybopper slasher film.

By rubbing a magic lamp a teenage girl accidentally releases an Iron Age evil jinn/djinn/genie which is so confused by the plethora of ripe victims it encounters in the modern era that it is completely unsure what to do with itself. It uses the girl to convince her friends sneak into a museum basement to camp out for a night of groping, which they actually already wanted to do. This doesn’t narrow the jinn's options for delivering well deserved teenage death. Should I possess the school bully, or levitate and move solid objects? Maybe I’ll revive the dead, or perhaps influence the behavior of deadly animals, or wait, wait maybe I should possess the mechanical systems of the building? The guy has no consistency. Aside from these cheap FX moments, the bulk of the film’s content degenerates into a weird wasteland of plot, undeniably linear, but, full of abrupt, disjointed continuity gaps.

But a few years before the rest of the world caught on, Galveston already had an inkling that computers could fix any problem. Just like the ivory clunker in the previous year’s Computer Beach Party, also a product of Galveston, the CPU in The Outing is tossed in to salvage half-finished, nonsensical plot-threads. Grinding its gears and pistons together with maximum effort, and with none of the indecision plaguing its ancient rival, the clunky machine in question churns out a wordy recipe for semi-victory:

Poster from Wrong Side of the Art.

 A VHS sleeve from the UK.

An article in Fangoria 67 led me to The Outing. At the time, it was slightly less ambiguously titled The Lamp. At least it doesn’t make you think it’s a camping movie as the poster art cum-VHS box and tagline does. Don't get me wrong, the poster art is awesome, it's just that the name switch doesn't make much sense. Plus it gave me a hell of a time trying to find a copy of this movie. Expand this post below to read the article.




Richard of DM said...

Whoa! Time warp time! I remember that VHS cover staring back at me during the good old days of my local Video-X-Tron. Never did rent it. Cool review. This can wait another 20 years or so, I guess.

The Goodkind said...

Thanks, glad you enjoyed the writeup. Incedentally while searching for a trailer I found that you can watch the whole movie in nine parts here at YouTube.

James said...

Holy fuck - for a second I thought it said this was directed by Tom Delay.

Marshall Caruthers said...

holy hell, this looks epic