• The Lamp (Vinegar Syndrome) Blu-ray Review

    Released by: Vinegar Syndrome
    Released on: July 27th, 2021.
    Director: Tom Daley
    Cast: Deborah Winters, James Huston, Andra St. Ivanyi, Danny Daniels, Barry Coffing, Jackson Bostwick
    Year: 1987
    Purchase From Arrow Video

    The Lamp – Movie Review:

    Tom Daley’s 1987 film, also known as The Outing, starts with a scene where a trio of hillbillies – two guys and a woman named Faylene - breaks into the home of an old woman. One of the guys knows she’s got money there because he’s delivered groceries to her plenty of times. They storm the place and when she won’t tell them where the loot is, they take an axe to the wall. Coincidently, they find an old chest, hack it open and wow, look, a fancy old lamp. Could that lamp possibly contain an evil genie? Yes it could! It’s unleashed and before you know it one guy has been cut in half, the other guy has got an axe in his head and poor Faylene is running around topless and screaming.

    Cut to a scene where we meet a teenage girl named Alex (Andra St. Ivanyi) and her dad, Doctor Wallace, a museum director. It turns out Alex’s mother passed away and things just haven’t been the same since, but hey, she’s got a boyfriend named Ted (Scott Bankston) and a cool teacher named Mrs. Ferrell (Deborah Winters) who has got the hots for her old man so things could be worse. When that teacher takes the kids to the museum for a trip, Alex and her friends devise a plan to hang out there overnight, unaware that a certain lamp has been brought into the building for examination. Making matters worse is the presence of Alex’s ex-boyfriend, a sleeveless shirt/skinny-tie wearing guy named Mike (Red Mitchell). When Alex gets possessed by the genie, things hit the fan and more people wind up ripped in half, topless, raped and covered in snakes!

    The Shout! Factory release from a few years ago was presented in its longer international version under the alternate title of The Lamp, but this edition from Vinegar Syndrome presents the movie in its ninety-two minute ‘never-on-video’ version. This is a fairly gory, trashy picture highlighted by a good bit of carnage and some pretty neat stop motion animation any time the actual genie appears on screen. Some awesome, if horribly dated, optical effects are put into motion to show Alex as possessed, so lots of goofy, glowing green eyes can be seen but some of those murder set pieces are surprisingly strong. The movie is played pretty much completely straight, heading into territory that’s considerably darker than a lot might expect given that this is basically a movie about promiscuous teenagers getting offed by a monsters.

    There are some decent production values here in addition to the keen effects. The museum setting is pretty effective and allows for the artifacts displayed there to be worked into the kill scenes in interesting ways and it also makes for a neat location for all of this to play off of. The lighting is fairly atmospheric at times and the score compliments the movie rather well. The acting is nothing to write home about – no one here stands out as particularly impressive but no one really embarrasses themselves either. This might be a minor entry in the pantheon of eighties horror pictures but it is at least interesting, somewhat original and plenty gory.

    The Lamp – Blu-ray Review:

    The Lamp is presented on a region A locked 50GB disc with the feature given 27.4GBs of space with the AVC encoded 1080p high definition transfer framed at 1.85.1 widescreen. The transfer is “newly scanned & restored in 2k from its 35mm interpositive” and it opens with a disclaimer noting that the negative is missing and that when using the interpositive for the restoration, some short scene extensions were discovered and re-integrated into the feature. Because these were cut from the negative, one to two frames were lost at the beginning and end of each section, resulting in some minor motion jump. Regardless, the results are pretty solid. There’s some noticeable damage visible during the opening credits but things are pretty clean after that. A few of the darker scenes aren’t lit so well but the transfer handles these moments well. There are no noticeable issues with compression or edge enhancement and the disc is free of noise reduction, with plenty of visible, natural grain. Colors look good, skin tones too and all in all, this looks pretty nice.

    The audio is handled by a 24-bit DTS-HD 2.0 Stereo track, in English, with optional subtitles provided in English only. A Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo option, also in English, is also included on the disc. The lossless track sounds fine. There’s a bit of sibilance in a few spots but aside from that the track is clean and properly balanced.

    Extras start off with a commentary track with writer/producer Warren Chaney, actress Deborah Winters and actor Barry Coffing that is moderated by Zack Carlson. After the obligatory introductions, they go over the shooting of the opening scene, writing the screenplay and Chaney's motivations for writing the 'tall tale' the way that he did, working with Bob Burns on the film, shooting in Houston instead of Hollywood, setting a scene in the forest for commercial reasons, the film's success in theaters, some of the darkly comedic elements used in the picture, the use of practical effects and optical effects in the movie and how they compare to modern digital effects, getting along with some of the other cast members in the picture, having to explain the mythology of the creature in the picture, working with MGM to get the original cut of the film out to fans, how each death scene in the movie is unique, the common practice of creating cleaner edits for TV or cable broadcast and quite a bit more.

    The disc also includes All In The Family: Taking An Outing In The Lamp which is a lengthy making-of documentary that interviews writer/producer Warren Chaney, executive producer Fred T. Kuehnert, along with actors Deborah Winters, Andra St. Ivanyi, André Chimène, Hank Amigo, Michelle Watkins and Barry Coffing. This piece runs thirty-seven minutes and it covers a lot of ground. They go over casting the film and the different characters that they actors played, why the producers wanted to make a genre picture in the first place, where some of the story ideas came from, getting the financing in place for the picture, how everyone got along on set, how some of the effects set pieces where created, how the film was pretty successful when it was first released theatrically, and how they all feel about the movie these many years later.

    Aside from that, the disc also includes the film’s original theatrical trailer, menus and chapter selection and it comes packaged with some nice reversible cover artwork.

    The Lamp - The Final Word:

    The Lamp is a solid slice of eighties horror, a fairly unique picture with some memorable murder set pieces. It’s a fun watch, and Vinegar Syndrome has done a nice job bringing it to Blu-ray in its longest known version and with some decent extra features as well.

    Click on the images below for full sized The Lamp Blu-ray screen caps!

    Comments 1 Comment
    1. Jason C's Avatar
      Jason C -
      I really dig this film. Excited to see this version. Glad VS did enough to make it worth a double-dip.