'Mindwarp & Brainscan' [Double Feature]
(Bruce Campbell, Angus Scrimm, Marta Martin, et al / Blu-ray / R / 2019 / Mill Creek Entertainment)
Overview: In a post-holocaust world, one woman (Marta Alicia) relies on computer fantasies to entertain herself, but a glitch sends her to a far-off wasteland to deal with monsters called Crawlers.
She is saved by a young rebel (Bruce Campbell), but the pair are later captured and brought underground by the Crawlers.
There, an overlord called the Seer (Angus Scrimm) presides over the kingdom and tries to make life miserable for his captives.
When a lonely teenager (Edward Furlong) orders the latest interactive video game, the high-tech wizardry penetrates his subconscious, where his darkest impulses lead him through a deadly maze of murder, deception and desire.
Pursued by homicide detective (Frank Langella) and prodded by the trickster (T. Ryder Smith), he is torn between the worlds of good and evil, of reality and fantasy and, ultimately, life and death.
Blu-ray Verdict: 'Mindwarp' (1992) is a relatively early effort by Steve Barnett (Director) and Henry Dominic (writer). Barnett is chiefly known for post-production work, which, surprisingly, is not a major feature of 'Mindwarp'.
His few directorial efforts have been limited to fairly dubious material like 'Scanner Cop II'. Dominic has done some more high-profile writing in recent years, including 'Terminator III'.
Given this team's background in sci-fi, and the timing of the film in 1992, it should not be surprising that 'Mindwarp' blends plot-heavy cyberpunk, horror, and hardcore sci-fi. What is, perhaps, surprising, is how well it does so with an obviously low budget.
Several years before the Matrix began shooting, 'Mindwarp' presented the story of Judy, a smart, precocious but sheltered young "in-worlder" who wants to experience real life; rather than simply plugging into the seemingly utopian synthetic fantasy world she can access through a serial port in the back of her neck.
She just has the feeling that there must be something more to life. Of course, she has no idea what might await in the "deadlands". Most of the film follows her adventures in captivity among subterranean cult of mutant land-fill denizens and the struggle she shares with hero Bruce Campbell; as they try to free themselves from the evil grip of the cult leader, Scrimm.
Indeed, despite the straightforward action, 'Mindwarp' is anything but a straightforward story.
With a cast featuring B-Movie legends Bruce Campbell and Angus Scrimm ('Phantasm') you might expect 'Mindwarp' to be an archetypal B film. Not only does 'Mindwarp' exceed the B film standard but it also manages to entertain on more levels than most of Bruce Campbell's films do - no mean feat.
Unlike many films in which he appears, Campbell does not dominate the screen throughout the film and does not have many opportunities to utter any of his hallmark clichés.
Instead, we have Marta Martin (AKA Marta Alicia) in her second major role. Martin plays the immature yet very headstrong Judy very well, and would subsequently land many returning roles on popular TV shows.
Their nemesis, Angus Scrimm, as of 2010, is 84 years old and still acting. He plays essentially the same role he has had countless times - a big, menacing, old, creep. Only a few other actors have speaking roles in this fairly intelligent mutant grunt fest!
In 'Brainscan' (1994), Michael Bower (Edward Furlong) is an alienated teenager who loves horror films who is still haunted by the car crash that left him with a limp and took his mother's life (oh, and is in love with a girl named Kimberly (Amy Hargreaves) for whom he records with his camcorder!)
Michael is also bothered by a business father who stays away from home for long periods. He has a horror buddy named Kyle (James Marsh) who informs him of a brand new terror game for the computer which is supposed to be a state of the art virtual experience.
He decides to give it a shot expecting it to simply disappoint like other games he has played along the line. This game is called "Brainscan" and it has four different stages with the first having the person playing actually committing a crime of brutal murder.
When Michael partakes of this the whole game becomes all to real when murders in reality begin taking place. When Michael discovers the death of a suburban man to be the one he killed in the video game, he wearily wishes to discontinue the experience altogether.
This becomes difficult when a character within the game named Trickster (T. Ryder Smith, really hamming it up) makes life unbearable telling him about messes he needs to clean up.
Each stage Michael has to play in the game becomes more difficult and it seems more deaths are a result. In truth, the film can be quite fun mainly because our hero keeps sinking further and further into quicksand with every decision to play the next game!
Frank Lagella plays Detective Hayden, a man who is our source of tension for he keeps the suspicion towards Michael and is always poking about. The film's special effects are hokey, but the idea works for me.
I mean, this poor kid decides for the ultimate experience and is thrust into a macabre world of his own doing basically because he likes escape through the horror genre - often criticized for displaying mindless violence in the way of entertainment. Watch it today, my friends. You won't regret it. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.85:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.
'Mindwarp & Brainscan' [Double Feature] [Blu-Ray] is out June 4th, 2019 via Mill Creek Entertainment.