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John C. McGinley,
This is a movie within a TV movie within a made-for-video movie. A boy is watching TV when a power outage forces him to talk to his grandpa for entertainment. His grandpa, a former screenwriter, re-tells an old screenplay about Merlin's Shop of Mystical Wonders. In it, Merlin sets up an enchanting store in a modern-day strip mall, accompanied by his gleeful wife and gnomes, snakes, dragons, etc. From this framing device, we then see two stories about people's encounters with items from the shop. The first sequence (created for this film but looking like an episode of "Tales From The Darkside") involves a pompous, cranky newspaper critic who begins casting spells using Merlin's spell book. The second story, an edited version of the full length movie, The Devil's Gift, is about an evil monkey doll (you know, the wicked grin and the cymbals?) who kills every time his hands clap. Merlin of the 1990s is disjointedly tied-in with the 1980 movie. Written by
>Michael "Rabbit" Hutchison <firstname.lastname@example.org>
The oil lamp changes hands after Grampa lights it. See more »
Listen to me, Obi-Wan! Either you give me something to write home about, or your quaint little shop is history. Do you hear me, old man? Do you know who I am? *I* am the Supreme Being! I chew places like this up and spit them into the toilet! I'm going to give you one last chance. You prove to me that you're Merlin the Sorcerer... or get off the pot.
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This "movie" seems to be little more than several different movies patched together. And in a sense, it is. Things start out with some old lady at an ouiji board whose house catches fire. Then after about six minutes, it turns out this is just some TV show some kid is watching while his grandfather (Ernest Borgnine in what may be the lowest point of his career since "The Devil's Rain") sits on a couch nearby. When the power in the house goes out Grandpa Borgnine proceeds to tell the kid some fractured and disturbing story loosely connected to Merlin the Magician, who has transported himself to the present day and opened a shop. Despite being the title character, Merlin does little in the movie except release evil artifacts into the world and collect them later while getting nagged by his irritating wife (If that's what she is. Their relationship is never really made clear in the movie).
The first part of this fractured story involves a cranky newspaper reviewer who is unimpressed with Merlin's shop and threatens Merlin with a most vicious review. Merlin retaliates by giving him a book of spells which turns the obnoxious reviewer into an old man and then a baby. Merlin's revenge, I guess.
The second tale involves an evil toy monkey who gets stolen from Merlin's shop and ends up being bought by a family from the early 1980's. The monkey has the ability to cause untold damage and evil by clapping the little cymbals in its hands. This segment was actually a 20 minute excerpt from a movie from 1984 called "The Devil's Gift" which was then clumsily inserted into this film. This is why this particular tale has no setup or conclusion, making the movie even more confusing than it already was. "The Devil's Gift" is apparently out of print and hopefully they won't use the MST3K exposure as an excuse to reissue it.
Along the way, a goldfish dies, a cat is burned alive, a trapped dog dies after inhaling toxic smoke from a fire set in the garage and a woman has a rather frank conversation with her friend about her fertilization problems which has left her unable for her and her cranky husband to have a baby. And this is supposed to be a kid's film! This is either the darkest kids film ever or the most ineffective horror film ever. If you really want to give the kids nightmares, show them this movie before sending them to bed.
This movie will most likely be remembered as the "lost" episode of MST3K. The airing of this particular episode was delayed five months because of rights problems with the movie. After watching this movie, I have to wonder why any sane person would actually want the rights to this stinkburger in the first place! Just another painful reminder of how much we'll miss MST3K.
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