BR: Mindwarp / Brain Slasher (1992)

May 14, 2014 | By


Mindwarp1992_BRFilm: Good

Transfer: Excellent/ Extras: Good

Label: Twilight Time

Region: All

Released:  October 8, 2013

Genre:  Science-Fiction / Horror

Synopsis: In a post-apocalyptic world, a rebellious girl is turfed from her idyllic underground world into the harsh surface realm where cannibals emerge from the earth to snatch fresh white meat.

Special Features:  Isolated Stereo Score Track / Theatrical Trailer / 8-page colour booklet with liner notes by film historian Julie Kirgo / Limited to 3000 copies / Available exclusively from Screen Archives Entertainment.




Also known as Brain Slasher, Fangoria’s seminal poke at film production benefits from the strategic casting of Evil Dead’s Bruce Campbell and Phantasm’s Angus Scrimm as rivals in this uneven shocker about cannibals who pick off stray humans living on the surface of a contaminated post-apocalyptic world. Dragged into their moist, grubby cave system, the healthy and able are forced to work alongside enslaved mutants in a water-logged mine, picking away at the nearly fossilized remains of an old garbage dump for usable scrap.

Scrimm plays cult leader Seer who maintains control using his own misappropriation of primitive blood-drinking cults, punishing wayward behaviour with eyeball trauma and a giant body-mulching gizmo (rendered in modest detail by KNB), whereas Bruce is Stover, a kind of last man on Earth hero who falls for and must rescue Judy Apple (newcomer Marta Martin), found wandering outside of her protected underground utopia where inhabitants never leave the boundaries of their tiny apartments.

Once a “dreamer” who literally plugged into a Matrix-like network and lived out elaborate fantasy lives inside her secured underground city, Judy soon realizes her hunger to escape and experience some reality may not have been such a great idea, since her future with the mutants is restricted to breeding newborns for the sterile, monosyllabic cult.

Production manager turned-workmanlike director Steve Barnett extracted the most from the available elements in this low-budget sci-fi / horror hybrid, and amid the wobbly performances, it is fun to watch Scrimm and Bruce play their roles dead straight. Being the hero, Bruce is often knocked around and tormented like a screaming Buster Keaton rag doll, which gives Mindwarp a slightly Sam Raimi feeling (minus the visual kinetics in the Evil Dead trilogy).

Written under the pseudonym Henry Doninick, writing team John Brancato and Michael Ferris’ derivative dialogue concocted some highly unusual grisly sequences (the Seer’s human mulching machine is especially nasty in its crude flesh & bone grinding / interconnected plumbing / distillation mechanics), and the concept of humans slowly numbed into dreaming vessels under the administration of a master SYSOP is quite novel: the intimation is a highly technical humanity will devolve into foggy-headed, slow-moving intellectuals triggered to awaken purely to eat slop nutrients, and enjoy a perfunctory latrine break.

Mindwarp is a genuine curio for its pre-Matrix concepts and being Fangoria’s first foray into big screen entertainment, not to mention the stunt casting of two horror icons dueling to the end with plenty of spraying gore. (The magazine’s other theatrical film productions originally released by Columbia Pictures include the clunky Children of the Night, released a year before Mindwarp, and Severed Ties.)

As “Henry Dominic,” writers Brancato and Ferris also scripted Watchers II (1990), the TV movie Flight of the Black Angel (1991), The Unborn (1991), and Severed Ties (1992) before upgrading to A-level productions such as The Net (1995), The Game (1997) and Surrogates (2009).

Steve Barnett’s feature-length directorial efforts include Hollywood Boulevard II (1990), Mindwarp (1992), Mission of Justice (1992), Scanner Cop II (1995), and the TV movie Cop Files (1995).

Twilight Time’s limited Blu-ray features an excellent transfer, an isolated track of Mark Governor’s pretty but unremarkable score, a video retailer promo trailer that does not illicit excitement, and Julie Kirgo’s solid liner notes.



© 2014 Mark R. Hasan



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Category: Blu-ray / DVD Film Review

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