Sunday, February 18, 2018

Brainscan (1994)

Amongst the appropriate and expected (albethem slightly benign and commonplace) user review titles, such as "Fun and underrated horror flick", or "Badly executed attempt at a video game horror movie...", and "Nightmare on Elm Street meets Terminator via The Lost Boys", I read what spoke to me like a clear message of hope: "Unique Period Film". 10 out of 10 from this Brainscan viewer and Bergman lover. Unique period film. I thought about it a bit, and I realized that the reviewer has nailed it right on the head - seen through to the depths of the soul of this film, and called it into the light. Brainscan (1994): Unique period film.

He's right, the characters can only exist in this place and time. And the nineties are perhaps far enough in our past now to evoke feelings of a distant era. An era when CD-rom computer games are the most important thing in a young man's life, and the most dangerous thing someone could get involved with. An era when teenagers being implicated in a dark murderous scandal was still shocking and unthinkable. And an era when effects were still "practical" as my friend Skip calls them. No computer graphics here. Unless you are talking about the insane hell-hole portal that transports young John Conner (oh wait...that's a different movie) to and from his interactive hologram murder video game, narrated and controlled by some Beetlejuice meets Troll, meets Freddy Krueger, meets drop dead Fred. Then....Drop Dead Freddy, that's it. Alias: The Trickster, who can videodrome in and out of the TV at will to intimidate and enlighten young Michael (played by Eddy Furlong). Frank Langella rounds out the team as a corrupt cop and poorman's Sean Connery.

There is a truly philosophical bent to this fine horror film and masterpiece of its genre, perhaps best epitomized by this classiest of quotes,

Dr. Fromberg: Don't you see? Senseless violence is not entertainment.
Michael: What is it then?
Dr. Fromberg: Why? why do you watch these things?...
Michael: I guess it's kind of an escape.
Dr. Fromberg: Like, uh... lighting up a marijuana cigarette and escaping the real world, hmm? Like watching a pornographic sex film, getting an erection and raping someone? Is that what you mean?
Michael: You know, I don't think erections rape people. People rape people.

True wisdom there Michael. People rape people. I didn't expect to start on such a mind-altering and soul-searching journey when I pulled this skepticism-inducing VHS cover out of the stack. But here we are. We can't claim any control in this thing we call life.

Final Judgment: A true 90's classic/Horror meets virtual reality meets gaming culture/Horror kids rule the world/Senseless violence entertainment escape with a Nietschesque bent/The reason I buy VHS.