One of the great things about the horror genre is just how varied it can be. There’s room for all kinds of movies under the massive umbrella of horror: comedies, drama, FX-heavy gore fests, psychological thrillers that suggest but never show and so on and so on. Because there’s no one “right” way to make a horror film, fans get to have completely different experiences with each new effort — this despite the genre’s reputation for sameness and predilection for sequels.

There’s starting to be a trend with these Scream Factory double feature Blu-rays in which one of the two movies included is crazy over-the-top fun and the second is a slog. The last few months have seen double feature releases of Empire of the Ants (fun!) and Jaws of Satan (dull!), Food of the Gods (fun!) and Frogs (dull!) and, even more recently, Cellar Dweller (fun!) and Catacombs (dull!). Rather than break with tradition, Scream Factory has packaged another pairing of the old “fun n’ dull” with The Outing (1987) and The Godsend (1980).

First, the “fun.” One of only a handful of films from the surprisingly limited “killer genie” subgenre, The Outing began life in 1986 where it was released throughout most of the world as The Lamp (a much more appropriate title given the movie’s subject matter). American distributors The Movie Store cut out nearly 20 minutes and changed the title to The Outing, which is the only version of the film to be released on DVD (though not until 2013) and now Blu-ray in the U.S. It concerns an evil spirit that’s released from a lamp by a couple of dumb rednecks (who are killed for their troubles) and a young woman, Alex (Andra St. Ivanyi) who falls under its spell. While on a field trip to the museum where the lamp is now housed (and where her father conveniently works as curator), Alex convinces her friends to sneak away from the group and stay overnight in the museum after closing time. Once they’re locked in with the genie, though, all hell breaks loose. Of course it does. This is a horror movie.

There is little defending The Outing by many of the standards we typically use to evaluate a “good” movie. The pacing is sluggish, the acting amateurish, the effects inconsistent at best. It’s hardly a classic of the horror genre — hell, it’s not even the best killer genie movie ever made. But as a fan of ‘80s-style horror — practical monster effects, over-the-top gore and a sense of fun that can be nasty but rarely mean-spirited or nihilistic — the movie delivers. The characters aren’t much worth caring about, their decisions arbitrary and nonsensical. The death scenes aren’t always the most imaginative (I’m looking at your, bathtub snake) but are staged with energy by director Tom Daley in his only credited feature.

Don’t expect much of a “killer genie” movie from The Outing, however. Something like Robert Kurtzman’s Wishmaster does a much better job of exploiting the genie angle by tying all of the kills into the “careful what you wish for” theme. The Outing is basically just a monster movie, only the monster doesn’t physically manifest itself until the last act. On those terms, it’s reasonably fun and bloody — not an undiscovered classic, but one for which I was thankful to Scream Factory for resurrecting at least for the 85 minutes it was running.

Now for the dull. The second feature on the disc, 1980’s The Godsend, has a truly crazy premise for a horror movie that the filmmakers execute with minimal impact. Malcolm Stoddard and Cyd Hayman play Alan and Kate Marlowe, an English couple who take in an orphan (Wilhelmina Green) only to have the infant begin killing off all of their biological children. Yes, this is basically a slasher movie in which the killer is a kid and so are the victims. It’s messed up, right? It’s the kind of thing that seems like it’s in bad taste. That’s because it is, but The Godsend doesn’t even have the courtesy to be truly tasteless. It somehow manages to make this transgressive premise boring.

It’s not fair to suggest that the stiffness of The Godsend is the result of some kind of English rigidity; after all, Michael Winner was English and that guy made The Sentinel. But something is lost in the translation from script to screen. The structure of the movie is incredibly repetitive: from the moment little Bonnie enters the picture, the kids start dying. Flash forward a few years and another kid is killed. Repeat until there are no kids left. While no part of me was anxious to see children murdered on camera — I do have to give credit to director Gabrielle Beaumont for showing restraint in this regard — it quickly became impossible to invest in the horror of it all when a) the parents played by Stoddard and Hayman barely appeared to care when they lost a child and b) never learned enough to prevent the loss of future children. A horror film like this — one that’s as much a psychological family drama as it is standard horror — demands that we at least care about the people involved. With its endless repetition and clueless leads, that becomes nearly impossible. A movie like Jaume Collet-Serra’s Orphan covers similar territory with considerably greater success.

After making their first appearance on any format post-VHS on a four-film “All Night Horror Movie Marathon” put out by Scream Factory last year, The Outing and The Godsend make their HD debut on this double feature Blu-ray. Both films get 1080p transfers and are presented in their original 1.78:1 widescreen, with The Godsend faring better than The Outing overall. Both films exhibit some softness and signs of age, but The Outing is worse for the wear, with a number of inconsistencies and flaws that pop up—though, to be fair, the worst of it seems to be in the opening credits. If you can get through those few minutes, the quality improves. Both titles get lossless 2.0 audio mixes that get the job done but not much more. The only bonus feature across both films is the original trailer for The Godsend, with The Outing receiving not even that much. It’s too bad that Scream Factory wasn’t able to license The Lamp as an alternate option, giving viewers the choice of which version of the movie they want to watch and understand the differences between the two. But there’s no way that’s feasible, seeing as The Lamp has never been officially released in the U.S. and, even if it could be, the cost would likely be too prohibitive for a title this niche.

I love the work that Scream Factory is doing, and I love how I’ve been introduced to many horror films through their efforts. Just because I didn’t quite dig on The Godsend doesn’t discourage me, as I’m happy to have seen it even while finding it lacking. Of the two movies, The Outing is the one I’ll likely return to, but I don’t even see that happening too often. There are shelves of other Scream Factory releases I’d rather revisit. I mean, they put out The Funhouse, after all.

The Outing Score: 2.5/5,  The Godsend Score: 2/5

Disc Score: 2.5/5

  • Patrick Bromley
    About the Author - Patrick Bromley

    Patrick lives in Chicago, where he has been writing about film since 2004. A member of the Chicago Film Critics Association and the Online Film Critics Society, Patrick's writing also appears on, and, the site he runs and hosts a weekly podcast.

    He has been an obsessive fan of horror and genre films his entire life, watching, re-watching and studying everything from the Universal Monsters of the '30s and '40s to the modern explosion of indie horror. Some of his favorites include Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde (1931), Dawn of the Dead (1978), John Carpenter's The Thing and The Funhouse. He is a lover of Tobe Hooper and his favorite Halloween film is part 4. He knows how you feel about that. He has a great wife and two cool kids, who he hopes to raise as horror nerds.