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 <email@example.com>
Back when Ernest Borgnine won an Oscar for "Marty", who would have ever thought that one of his movies would be "MST3K"-worthy?
"Merlin's Shop of Mystical Wonders" is too dark to be a children's movie and too cute to be a horror flick. Which makes it perfect "Mystery Science Theater 3000" fodder! An incompetent mixture of "Poltergeist" and any wizard movie, it makes one wonder how they got a great actor like Ernest Borgnine on board. Although the movie has 1996 as its date, a large portion of it looks as though it was filmed at least ten years earlier (a very corny '80s look).
As for the "MST3K" version, jokes naturally abound. I don't remember which jeers came from Mike, Servo or Crow, but someone notes that Merlin probably shouldn't ask women if they've seen his monkey! And when the ground starts caving in, one of them declares that Bugs Bunny must have missed that left turn at Albuquerque! Among the famous people who get mentioned are Tom Bosley, Madeline Albright, Bella Abzug and Linda Blair. So just stick with the "MST3K" version and you'll be fine.
Yeah, she did look kinda like Julie Hagerty.
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