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Posted on Nov 8th 2017 at 08:00:00 AM by (zophar53)
Posted under RF Cinema, Brainscan, movies, video game movies, discussion

As the first entry in the new RF Cinema video game movie discussion, Brainscan made for a great October watch and those who participated in the conversation really seemed to enjoy it. For those who missed it, join us as we recap the film itself and the comments it inspired, won't you?

And don't worry, I'll keep this article spoiler-free.

Released in the heart of the 90s, Brainscan is the best kind of not-quite-horror B-movie that was likely shocking when it was released, but is now a bit less effective. Edward Furlong, fresh off the success of Terminator 2, plays Michael, a teenager who's mother died when they were in a brutal car accident years prior. This left him with scars both physical and mental, and the fact that his dad appears to be away more often than not and a perfect example of the awkward single father stereotype only makes it worse. Michael spends his days in his attic bedroom (remember when we all wanted those?) listening to hard rock, playing all the latest video games, watching horror movies, and peeping on his pretty young schoolmate/neighbor Kimberly.

Fun fact: Amy Hargreaves is seven years older than Edward Furlong, so if the characters had been the same age difference apart, she would've been way out of his league.

In coming back to this movie after first watching it about 20 years ago, I was surprised at how much I'd forgotten. The whole opening credit sequence, where Michael's car crash memories play out in a dream haze backed by a dark, emo score sets a pretty clear tone. And when he not only peeks through Kimberly's bedroom window, but sets up a video camera to watch her change, then calls her only to hang up before having the courage to utter a word, I was reminded how much of a creeper he is. Thankfully, this is the worst he gets in terms of going about a high school crush all wrong, but it made me wonder what else I'd forgotten.

It seems there were quite a few things that had slipped my mind. Not long after that opening scene, Michael is showing a movie in his after-school horror club, and when the principal sees what's going on in his classroom he puts the kibosh on it pretty quickly. I'm not sure what he was expecting when he allowed a horror club in his school, but it was used to good effect. As our own singlebanana noted in the discussion forum, the idea that violence in movies and games causes violence in real life was a pretty fresh topic at the time. It was an intriguing foreshadowing that could be applied to where the movie goes, but I was disappointed it never get back to the idea.

Things really get going once Michael orders and plays a brand new immersive video game called Brainscan. It turns out to be a rather VR-like simulation of a grizzly murder, supposedly tailored to the person playing it. It's very intense for both Michael and the viewer. But when it turns out there's a murder in Michael's town that matches the one he committed in the game, Trickster shows up to urge him along in playing the remaining levels.

The introduction of Trickster will go down as one of my favorite entrances of a character of all time. In a moment of 90s CG that is not good, but has aged better than one would expect, he pushes head-first out of Michael's TV. In the forum, SirPsycho amazingly described him as looking "like Steven Tyler and Freddie Kruger's ginger love child." What more can I say than that?

Basically, the rest of the movie is Michael playing increasingly more dangerous levels and trying to avoid suspicion from the detective investigating the murders and his friends, who he manages to quickly alienate himself from as only an emotionally damaged teenager can. The longer it goes on, the more quirks in the character interactions and plot start to show themselves, which can appear like the ending will be pretty dumb. Thankfully, that doesn't happen at all; the conclusion is abrupt but very effective. I remembered appreciating it less when I first watched it, but seeing it again now for a second viewing, I was pretty satisfied.

Brainscan is very obviously of its time, but as far as I can tell, everyone in the forum thread considered that a positive. To quote GrayGhost81, "I can't believe I've never heard of it. If I had seen this back in 1994, I would have WORSHIPPED it. The soundtrack, characters, clothing, etc gave me such nostalgic feels." I definitely have to agree on the music. Switching between heavy grunge rock and slow, moody background tunes that reminded me of the original Nightmare on Elm Street, I really loved the soundtrack. And seeing Trickster dance to Primus is without a doubt the most wonderfully goofy moment of the whole thing.

One thing I didn't expect was singlebanana's observation that it was a really interesting compliment to the game Until Dawn, which we played for the monthly Playcast. That was a game I hadn't played in some time, but thinking back on it, I can see where he's coming from. I'd be interested in hearing from others who've played it and what their thoughts are as they relate to this film.

Finally, it was a great surprise to see this playing on laserdisc at the RWX after party. A few of us had a fun time watching it together, and it was a great top-off to the discussion. We all pretty much agreed that Brainscan is a great movie to go back to for anyone who loves 90s horror or B-movies. Let us know what you thought of it in the comments below or the discussion thread here!

For the November movie, I decided to dive into one based on an actual video game. I'm sure many in this community remember where they were when they first saw the Mortal Kombat movie, provided you were old enough. I remember it very clearly; it was HUGE for me and the group of friends I made at the local Aladdin's Castle. Join us in the discussion thread here and let us know where you were and what your first experience with it was. And after you've watched it again, let us know if you still feel the same way. If you've never seen it before, I'm interested in hearing thoughts from that perspective as well.

As with Brainscan, I've included links below to MK's IMDB page and trailer. This one isn't too difficult to find in physical form via Amazon or your local used media store, and it's all over the various streaming services. According to my sources it's available to stream on Amazon Video, Google Play, iTunes, Vudu, PSN, and the Microsoft Store from $2.99-12.99, depending on if you're looking for SD or HD, a rental or a purchase. Surprisingly, it's not available to stream on Netflix, but is available from them in DVD format, for the six people who still get Netflix DVDs. Enjoy, and see you next month!

Mortal Kombat (1995) on IMDB

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I can't believe how many awesome and interesting movies Edward Furlong is attached to. He's so terrible, but he is in a handful of what I would consider essential movies to own and a few genre flicks that are really neat as well.
Brainscan was a really fun film. Probably less of a true horror flick and more of a thriller, but really worth the watch.  Pretty sure everyone needs an Igor.

Oh and side note: Amy Hargreaves....hubba hubba.
great movie. We watch it probably annually. And my wife rocks the soundtrack often still haha.

I wanted to note that the first time I played Indigo Prophecy it struck me that the intro (cleaning up the bathroom murder scene) felt very much like I was inside Brainscan. :0
@Crabmaster2000: I haven't really looked into his stuff other than this and T2. I'll have to look into that; maybe I'm forgetting some.
Furlong was great in the remake of Night Of The Demons.
Really fun flick, though I didn't see it until a year or so after it came out.  I really dig the soundtrack.  I remember picking it up shortly after seeing seeing the movie, and was of the first three CDs that I ever purchased (the other two being CoC - Deliverance and Clutch's self-titled album).  I would listen to it while riding my bike to work midnight stock at Toys R Us; butt-cold Michigan winter, dodging snowbanks and patches of melted slush, and ALWAYS skipping the Stuttering John song.  Good stuff.

Not a bad role for ol' Furlong, Amy Hargreaves is hot, and Frank Langella is scary.  No matter how old Frank gets, I always see him with his fab hair from Dracula (1979).
Loves this movie years ago.  Kind of fell off my radar til earlier this year when I watched it again for the first time in forever.  I LOVE the creepy soundtrack in this movie.  Definitely more of a thriller than horror flick.  Really love it.
Zophar, you're knocking it out of the park with this thing. Keep up the good work. Looking forward to watching and discussing more good/bad movies with all of you!

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