1997 / Director. Jeff Burr.
Review by Glenn Cochrane.
I have a soft spot for director Jeff Burr. I grew up with his films and continue to revisit them now. In the early 80s he established himself as a talented horror director, which lead to him becoming the go-to guy when Hollywood needed sequels to popular films. His reputation for delivering quality follow-ups was cemented with movies like STEPFATHER 2, CHAINSAW MASSACRE 3 and PUMPKINHEAD 2. He also managed to whip up a few dramatic films, which presented a more personal style of filmmaking. During the 90s he was hired by Charles Band to make several movies, some of which were PUPPETMASTER sequels, while the others were family friendly adventure movies. One of those was JOHNNY MYSTO: BOY WIZARD. By most standards JOHNNY MYSTO is a tacky, no-frills movie that looks as though it was made for television. Heck... it was produced by a low grade, no frills studio and its target audience was children. Whenever I watch films like this I need to ask how my 7 year old self would have reacted? He would have got a real kick out of it. And so as a grown adult I leave my thinking cap on the table and take JOHNNY MYSTO for what it is. Using the familiar formula of A KID IN KING ARTHUR'S COURT the movie tells the story of a boy who fancies himself a magician. When he asks a professional magician for advice he is given a magical ring, which has mystical powers. An innocent disappearing act goes wrong and Johnny's younger sister is transported back to medieval times. Of course Johnny must go looking for her and an adventure through time ensues. The film features Patrick Renna (THE SANDLOT), Russ Tamblyn as the older mentor figure and Tamblyn's daughter Amber, who is now a popular and established Hollywood actress. The movie has a rightful place on television or perhaps sitting on a kids shelf full of dvds and most adventurous minds under the age of 10 will lap it up. The special FX actually hold up pretty well considering the movie's age and most kids would be nonethewiser about it being made before they were born. Fans of Jeff Burr will appreciate some of his hallmark techniques as he brings a unique artificial set design and aesthetic to the project. Scenes of sunbeams breaking through misty forests and spooky medieval dungeons provide an exciting environment for the story to take place. If you don't expect much from this movie, you might just get a little more from it. Not quite as good as his other kids movie SPOOKY TOWN but a fun adventure perfectly fashioned for its demographic.