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  Mindwarp Bruce In The Wastelands
Year: 1991
Director: Steve Barnett
Stars: Bruce Campbell, Angus Scrimm, Marta Martin, Elizabeth Kent, Mary Becker, Wendy Sandow, Brian Brill, Bekki Vallin, Matt Hensley, Keith Rodenberger, Gene McGarr, Roger Perkovich, John Thorpe, Gerald Shidell, Tyrone Yonash, Troy Siegmeier, Dave Conseur
Genre: Horror, Science FictionBuy from Amazon
Rating:  6 (from 1 vote)
Review: Judy (Marta Martin) is sick of her life, she wants to go places and do things that her environment has no interest in providing for her. She spends her days and nights plugged into a virtual reality device alongside her mother (Mary Becker), who enjoys the experience far more than she does, and wondering whatever happened to her father, who walked out of their pod years ago and may now be dead. She wants to rebel, to break free, but everything around her prevents this from happening - however, she should be careful what she wishes for, because life outside is very different...

Mindwarp was the first of three movies to be released by Fangoria magazine from the early nineteen-nineties, an abortive series that failed to produce any classics, of the horror the mag was known for or anything else. Nevertheless, it has generated some latter-day interest among those who caught it down the years, be that on VHS shortly after its brief cinema run, or on television where it showed up as filler in the early hours to draw in the unwary. Once it eventually appeared on disc and streaming, there was a chance to catch up with its appeal among those who may know it purely by reputation.

But maybe not much more than that. It turned out to be a science fiction effort in the nineties Philip K. Dick thrall, as in Total Recall or eXistenZ, where character would reject reality in favour of the electronic variety, culminating in the megahit The Matrix right as the new millennium was dawning. Not having the budget to go as big with its fantasies as those other movies, this pulled back on the sci-fi effects and concentrated instead on the rubbery, fake blood and gore instead, after all the Fangoria name left many expectations among the readers and they would be fools to let down the audience who were going to be most likely to seek this out, whether they were disappointed or not.

Really this owed a debt to Mad Max 2, only with more limited means at their disposal as it presented a futuristic, post-catastrophe world which our heroine winds up in once banished from the hermetically sealed environment she is used to. Be careful what you wish for was the time-honoured message, and she is swiftly regretting ever wanting to flee the nest from the minute she lands in desert quicksand and a mutant drags her out and takes her away on a tractor to cannibalise her. Fortunately someone far more famous than the leading lady is hanging around to rescue her, and he's Bruce Campbell as Stover, not seen enough, adding welcome personality to the stock post-apocalyptic hero role.

This pair shack up for a while, but those darned mutants won't leave them alone and kidnap them both to spirit them away to cramped and cheap sets that are supposed to be underground. This community is led by the Seer, played by Mr Phantasm himself Angus Scrimm, who has a stronger connection to Judy than she realises, but life beneath the soil has driven him utterly insane and he delights in mashing up his victims and taking sustenance from their blood. He does this with a contraption best described as if Rube Goldberg manufactured torture devices, so at least the art design had some imagination to it, and it was pretty ruthless about unsentimentally messing up its characters. Though you could see The Wizard of Oz allusions on their way from a mile off, and they were unconvincing, if a little subversive in their conclusions. All in all, the power of nostalgia forgives a lot, and this was precisely what you would rent from a video store in 1991 when the other options were exhausted: on that level, it was fine. Music by Mark Governor.

[Eureka release this on Blu-ray with these special features:

Limited-Edition O-card slipcase (First Print Run of 2000 Copies Only) | 1080p presentation on Blu-ray | LPCM 2.0 audio | Optional English SDH | Brand new feature length audio interview with Tony Timpone, former longtime editor of Fangoria Magazine | Fangoria's Weekend of Horrors 1990 - footage from the horror convention, with Bruce Campbell and Angus Scrimm in attendance after recently filming Mindwarp | Reversible sleeve artwork featuring original poster artwork for both the original US release, and the international "Brain Slasher" artwork | PLUS: Limited-Edition Collector's Booklet featuring a new essay by film scholar and author Craig Ian Mann; and a reprinted article from Fangoria sister publication, Gorezone (First Print Run of 2000 Copies Only)]
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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