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Rumpelstiltskin
(1996)

Director: Mark Jones           
Cast
: Kim Johnston Ulrich, Max Grodenchik


From the director of Leprechaun comes another tale of a small mythical creature brought into modern times. Leprechaun was a dreary movie, saved from total disaster by an enthusiastic and occasional performance by Warwick Davis. Rumpelstiltskin doesn't have Davis.

The title creature is first seen in a prologue based on the fairy tale, being chased by the usual pack of villagers with burning torches after trying to get a baby from a woman he gave a favor to. He is cursed by the village witch, who is kind enough to admit that the curse (turning him into a small statue) she is using can be broken under certain circumstances. Cut to modern day L.A., where Ulrich is a recently widowed mother who is taken by her goofy best friend to an antique store  (cobwebs, crazy proprietor) that only exists in "B" movies. Yes, you can guess what she finds and buys. Unconsciously wishing for a visit from her dead husband while holding the statue, Rumpelstilskin is brought back to life. After granting her wish, he demands her baby.

Rumpelstilskin is quite a character. He is several times referred to as "short", though any viewer will notice that the actor is in a squat throughout the picture. He seems to be patterned after Freddy Krueger, with wisecracks like "I love it when a plan comes together!" (from The A-Team) and "This chariot has a lot of horses!" while he drives a tanker in a sequence rip-off from Duel.. Never is it explained how Rumpelstilskin is so quick to adjust to 20th century culture and make topical references.

When you ask yourself questions like that while watching a movie, you know it's in trouble. Other questions came up like: If he can kill from long distances, why does he do this only once, and then not kill the mother and the obnoxious TV host who helps her try to recover he baby? And why does he kill the other victims face-to-face when they are managing to hurt him before their deaths? If you were going to bail out someone from jail, would you decide to take a nap outside the police station first? And how is Rumpelstiltskin able to drive that tanker and a motorcycle so easily?

Even in the technical department, the movie is in bad shape. Although the make-up for the character Rumpelstiltskin is acceptably done, the various gore effects, burnings etc. are sub par for the genre. The movie is also poorly directed and edited - there is one murder of a police officer that I can't figure out how was done. (It's possible the movie was cut to get an "R" rating.). Photography is sometimes murky, and occasionally has spots on the screen - signs that the movie was shelved long before it's 1994 copyright date. The fact the credits thank Dino De Laurentiis suggest that possibly this was one of a number of late 1980s movies he made that were shelved after his company went bankrupt. This wouldn't be the first time - witness Collision Course and Rampage. (By the way, the credits also thank "Ivan the Cat" as Storybook Artist - suggesting that at least one person saw how bad this movie was.)

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See also: For Your Height Only, Highway To Hell, Troll 2

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