Film Review: Merlin’s Shop of Mystical Wonders (1996)

Release Date: 1996
Directed by: Kenneth J. Berton
Written by: Kenneth J. Berton
Music by: Ron Goldstein, Todd Hayen, Frank Macchia
Cast: Ernest Borgnine, George Milan, Bunny Summers, John Terrence, Patricia Sansone, Mark Hurtado, Rick Hurtado, Nicholas Noyes

Monarch Video, 91 Minutes


This was a film released on video in 1996. Despite its name and its video cover, it is not really a family friendly fantasy film, it is more of a horror anthology. In any regard, it isn’t a good movie whatsoever. Nor is it scary.

Merlin’s Shop of Mystical Wonders has Ernest Borgnine in it but this was during the lowest point of his career. No one else in the movie is even remotely recognizable.

This was featured in a very popular episode of Mystery Science Theater 3000. Regardless of my love of the show, I find this movie to be such a horrible bore that even the great riffing by the MST3K crew isn’t enough to make this enjoyable. I really only revisited it because Netflix just released this for streaming to get people pumped for the return of MST3K. Also, I had to rewatch it to review it. Part of me had hoped I could find something in it that I didn’t notice or appreciate before. But no, I still hate it and feel like it has absolutely nothing worthwhile to offer.

The acting is hokey and comes off as something made for a kids’ movie. The special effects are incredibly unimpressive. The cinematography resembles a 90s Spanish language novella. The costumes are of the generic Halloween aisle at Spencer’s Gifts variety. It feels more like the first performance of an inexperienced community theater than a motion picture featuring an Academy Award winner.

I have always loved and enjoyed Ernest Borgnine but he couldn’t carry a picture this bad and he isn’t the leading man type. Well, at least not since he won an Oscar for 1955’s Marty.

This isn’t a film worth watching unless you are a lover of MST3K. Even then, it is a chore.

Rating: 1.5/10