Demon in a Bottle (1996)

Full Moon and Charles Band always had a knack for delivering entertainment on the cheap side, allowing them to cover a lot of markets. Their family movies, despite being low budget, had a kind of novelty and charm that is still pretty fun. One of the lesser among the library from Full Moon’s sub label Moonbeam was “Demon in a Bottle.” Despite its sinister title, the movie is very much a take on “The Goonies” except with only about ten percent of the budget, I’d assume. It has a small cast, very limited scenery, and only has villains that animated—you know, to spare the whole cost of live actors.

Four teenagers find a lost treasure buried by an 18th century pirate on a desert island. But they accidentally release the monster who lives inside a bottle, keeping the treasure.

In truth, “Demon in a Bottle” was the first (and only) film in a planned series of Charles Band family movies to be released by Walt Disney, It never made it through to see follow up movies in the series, but it did land on straight to video in other countries. It oddly enough never really made it to the States. Today it’s a very rare bit of nineties nostalgia from Charles Band’s massive library, and it doesn’t really offer up a ton of reasons to want to experience it. The whole premise revolves around this group of kids that unleash a genie from its bottle.

The genie is this stop motion rampaging monster, and the kids spend a majority of the movie running in and out of rooms, and evading the monster at every turn. There really isn’t anything else to the movie as director Randall Cook shoots around the film’s obvious short comings, centering a lot of the scenes in doors, and shooting primarily in Bucharest. It’s supposed to be New Orleans, though. Despite the stilted dialogue and shaky performances, the monster in “Demon in a Bottle” is at least fun to watch; it’s an imposing villain filled with the obvious Willis O’Brien influences.

I wish I liked this more, but I just didn’t. I do appreciate the light hearted tone and adventure aesthetic, at the end of the day.