Magic in the Mirror (1996)


USA. 1996.


Director – Ted Nicolaou, Screenplay – Ken Carter Jr & Frank Dietz, Producers – Kevin Hyman & Vlad Paunescu, Photography – Adolfo Bartoli, Music – Richard Kozinski, Visual Effects Supervisor – MacKenzie Waggaman, Digital Visual Effects – OCS, Freeze Frame & Pixel Magic (Supervisor – Ray McIntyre Jr), Creature Effects – Mark Rappaport, Production Design – Cristian Niculescu. Production Company – Bibi Productions


Jamie Renee Smith (Mary Margaret Dennis), Saxon Trainor (Sylvia Dennis/Queen Hysop), David Brooks (Gilbert Dennis), Godfrey James (Melilot), Kevin Wixted (Tansy), Eileen T’Kaye (Dragora), Ion Haiduc (Admiral Dabble), Cristian Motriuc (Swanson/Dr Francis Schmott), Ileana Sandulescu (Bella), Daniela Marzavan (Donna)


Young parentally neglected Mary Margaret Dennis discovers some magical berries that open up a doorway to another world through her late aunt’s mirror. Once on the other side, as she tries to find some more berries in order to get back home, she is sought by the crazed duck queen Dragora who has discovered a taste for tea made out of humans dunked in hot water. Dragora now desires to find a way through the mirror in order to plunder the human world.

Although it is not produced under either the Full Moon or Moonbeam banners, this is another of Charles Band and director Ted Nicolaou’s low-budget genre films. Every now and again Band and Nicolau manage to pull something unique and unexpected out of the hat – they did with Dragonworld (1994) – and do so here again. One sat down to watch Magic in the Mirror with no expectations – after all, the majority of the Band/Moonbeam children’s films such as Pet Shop (1995) and Prehysteria! (1993) and sequels are utter dross. In no time at all, Magic in the Mirror manages to take one by surprise. Soon one is wondering exactly what type of drug-induced hallucination they are in the midst of.

Magic in the Mirror is a bewildering, head-spinning experience, not unakin to sitting down to watch something like Pufnstuf (1970) for the first time. Ted Nicolaou creates a unique secondary world fabulation filled with journeys through magical mirrors and tyrannical duck queens threatening to dip young girls into giant boiling teapots to serve up as a rare delicacy. There are moments of bizarrely surreal imagery – armies of flying mallards (“I love the smell of swamp gas in the morning,” comments the duck general); a field of doors leading to magical mirrors; gardens of planted people. For once, the usual Band low-budget does not show through too much and the duck costumes are surprisingly lavish and effective. The result is a unique fantasy that successfully ventures into that rare arena of surreal fabulism that so few children’s films get right – lone examples being Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (1971) and Pufnstuf.

The lesser sequel was Magic in the Mirror: Fowl Play (1996).

Ted Nicolaou’s other genre films as director include:- one of the segments of The Dungeonmaster (1984), TerrorVision (1986), Bad Channels (1992), Subspecies (1991), Bloodstone: Subspecies II (1993), Remote (1993), Bloodlust: Subspecies III (1994), Dragonworld (1994), Leapin’ Leprechauns! (1995), Leapin’ Leprechauns! 2/Spellbreaker: Secret of the Leprechauns (1996), Vampire Journals (1997), The Shrunken City (1998), Subspecies 4: Bloodstorm (1998), Dragonworld: The Legend Continues (1999), Ragdoll (1999), The Horrible Dr Bones (2000), In the Shadow of the Cobra (2004), Puppetmaster vs Demonic Toys (2004), The Etruscan Mask (2007) and Don’t Let Her In (2021).

Film online in several parts beginning here:-

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