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Dustin Putman

The Outing/The Godsend  (1987/1980)

Reviewed for by Dustin Putman

The Films
    The Outing (1987)
    2 Stars
    The Godsend (1980)
    2.5 Stars
(Release Date: July 14, 2015) – Previously released by Scream Factory in 2013 as part of an "All Night Horror Marathon" DVD release, 1987's killer-genie slasher "The Outing" (a.k.a. "The Lamp") and 1980's killer-kid thriller "The Godsend" have now been given the long-overdue Blu-ray treatment in a slick, no-fuss double-feature collection. The thematic and subjective connecting tissue between these two titles is superficial at best, but it is worth celebrating that Scream Factory has seen fit to create new, much-improved high-definition transfers for these films.

In "The Outing," directed by Tom Daley, an ancient Arabian lamp finds its way into the possession of Houston-based museum curator Dr. Wallace (James Huston). When Wallace's teenage daughter Alex (Andra St. Ivanyi) and her friends decide to sneak into the museum overnight following a field trip, they become the targets of the evil Jinn, freshly released from the mystical lamp. "The Outing" is a serviceable, somewhat middle-of-the-road '80s slasher with its supernatural leanings and uniqueness of location the two key differentiating elements. The film is well-shot by cinematographer Herbert Raditschnig, its Steadycam use and unhurried setups seemingly inspired by Dean Cundey's work on 1978's "Halloween." Once the actual killing gets underway in the final third and the beastly genie reveals himself, the involving setup loses its way in hokey special effects and ramshackle plot developments. One key character is never seen killed and completely forgotten about, while the lack of an establishing intertitle following a prologue set in the 19th century inadvertently makes it appear that there are cars and 1987 technology and fashions in the 1800s.

Arriving four years after Richard Donner's deservedly much-acclaimed "The Omen," "The Godsend" comes off as a slightly derivative, gender-reversed knock-off. Since "The Godsend" is based on a novel by Bernard Taylor that was published the same year as that Satan's-child opus, one cannot possibly accuse it off plagiarizing, but it's pretty certain that the screen adaptation got made directly because of the success of "The Omen." Alan (Malcolm Stoddard) and Kate Marlowe (Cyd Hayman) are a married couple with four children living in the British countryside who decide to adopt a newborn baby when a pregnant stranger (Angela Pleasence) they welcome into their home gives birth and then mysteriously vanishes. This new blonde-haired bundle of joy, Bonnie (played at varying ages by Wilhelmina Green and Joanne Boorman), looks as sweet as apple pie, but when the rest of the couple's children begin to die in freak accidents, Alan grows convinced that Bonnie is responsible. "The Godsend" has a rather predictable story trajectory and not much of a payoff, but it is handsomely directed by Gabrielle Beaumont and dramatically riveting. The parental guilt and grief that Alan and Kate must confront as their brood is systematically struck down is understandably devastating for them, and Beaumont treats these losses and the nightmare they find themselves in with stirring realism.

Blu-ray Picture/Sound
The Outing: C/B
The Godsend: B/B+

Previously only available on DVD in standard-definition editions, "The Outing" and "The Godsend" come to Blu-ray in improved, if occasionally problematic, 1080p transfers. Of the two, "The Godsend" has the healthier appearance. There are the usual instances of dirt and scratches—and, briefly, one very glaring tear that runs down the frame—but other portions of the film are strikingly clean. Colors and facial tones look to be accurate, while image detail ranges from exceptional to soft. Grain levels are even and satisfying. "The Outing" begins unpromisingly with a prologue that is so dark and indistinct the image gets lost a few times in a hazy gray scale, but then gradually perks up thereafter. While the print as a whole is fairly consistently soft and lacking in fine detail, the daytime sequences and museum interiors look pretty good—certainly better than the movie's DVD counterpart. Customary specks of dirt, minor scratches, and some frozen artifacts are also on hand. Fans should adjust their expectations and understand that, short of an extensive clean-up, "The Outing" simply doesn't have a fresh and shiny enough print to look like anything other than what it is: a low-budget relic from 1987. Both features receive solid 2.0 DTS-HD Master Audio tracks, and they get the job done considering their era-specific limitations. Music and dialogue come through reasonably well and are never distorted or difficult to hear. If there is a slight tinny quality here and there, it is very likely a result of the original audio source.

Blu-ray Features

The Outing
  • None
The Godsend
  • Theatrical Trailer (1:55, HD)
Bottom Line
All hail Scream Factory! Horror fans asked for high-def transfers of their "All Night Horror Marathon" titles, and the company very kindly obliged with "The Outing" and "The Godsend." While there is still room for improvements on the video front, viewers should count their blessings that these films have made it to Blu-ray at all. Both have their merits and drawbacks, but they are fun and worth checking out for horror enthusiasts. Supporting mid-level releases such as this is important to show these studios that their work hasn't been in vain, and there is still an audience for them. Recommended.

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© 2015 by Dustin Putman
Dustin Putman

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