GORE IN THE STORE
Directed by Steve Barnett.
Starring Bruce Campbell, Angus Scrimm, Marta Martin, Elizabeth Kent, Mary Becker.
Horror/Sci-Fi, USA, 95 mins, cert 18.
Released in the UK on Blu-ray by Eureka Entertainment on Monday 22nd February 2021.
To some the prospect of a Fangoria-produced horror movie starring genre legends Bruce Campbell (THE EVIL DEAD) and Angus Scrimm (PHANTASM) from the early 1990s is the very definition of cinematic gold. Of course, there are also those that couldn't care less about B-movie actors turning people to mush in a MAD MAX-style dystopian future, and although there is no need to ever converse with people like that ever again they could have a point when it comes to justifying their indifference.
This is because MINDWARP is a movie that never quite lives up to the promise of its alternate title of BRAIN SLASHER, despite containing some decent gore. Set in the not-too-distant future of 2037 the movie begins with a weird Cronenberg-esque setup involving people being plugged into a machine via a port in the back of their necks and being active participants in a virtual reality existence; they can even jump into other people's visions/dreams to cause havoc if they choose to, but this is no ELM STREET slasher.
No, this pays more attention to the sci-fi likes of TOTAL RECALL or Cronenberg’s EXISTENZ as our main character Judy (Marta Martin – STAR TREK) is, thanks to a machine malfunction, whisked away from her boring everyday reality of doing nothing inside a nondescript setting to waking up outside in the world she wishes to visit. Unfortunately it is a barren wasteland and she is about to become the next meal for a cannibalistic mutant creature. Cue the timely arrival of Stover (Campbell), a nomadic warrior who hasn’t had a woman since his wife died, has no love for authority, etc.
All seems well for the newly acquainted couple until they fall into the clutches of Seer (Scrimm), the overlord of an underground kingdom full of said cannibalistic mutants who like to blend up their captives in a huge propeller blade and drink the results. Naturally, Judy wishes she were back in her dull virtual reality life but Seer has other plans.
With plenty of gouged eyeballs and hacked-off limbs being thrown at the screen you would expect MINDWARP to be a non-stop barrage of carnage but somewhere in the mix the enjoyment gets a bit lost amongst the vague messages that the writers seem to be hinting at throughout. What those messages are we never really know – could be environmental, could be about slavery/liberation, or it could be about being careful what you wish for - as the film quickly descends (or ascends, depending on your point of view) into the bloody stuff, which is all good fun and who can deny the sheer joy of Bruce Campbell covered in blood and going berserk?
More-or-less a tick-list of dystopian sci-fi/horror tropes, MINDWARP is an enjoyable piece of nonsense if you skip the first 15-or-so minutes and try not to think too hard about the ending. Bruce Campbell is as watchable as he always is and Angus Scrimm, despite coming off like a budget Christopher Lee with what he is given to do, is a welcome presence and adds a little gravitas to a movie that would be a lesser one without him. The KNB practical effects are as gruesome as you would expect them to be, although the mutants themselves are a little generic and not very memorable, and if you enjoyed the low budget sci-fi silliness of HELL COMES TO FROGTOWN then MINDWARP makes a decent enough picture to pair it up with for a grimy dystopian double bill.
Extras for the disc come in the form of footage from FANGORIA’S WEEKEND OF HORROR from 1990 where Bruce Campbell and Angus Scrimm were in attendance, and initial prints also come with a collector’s booklet featuring new essays on the film as well as archive Fangoria articles. For collectors or fans looking to upgrade from an old format then this release will probably have some added value as it does look pretty good, especially the scenes set underground that really bring out the lurid reds and deep blacks, but there simply isn’t enough going on in MINDWARP to appeal to anybody outside of genre fanatics or Bruce Campbell completists.