Mindwarp aka Brain Slasher is a perfect example of 90’s direct-to-video schlock-horror cheese. The first film to be produced by Fangoria magazine’s “Fangoria Films” label, it tells the story of Judy Apple (played by Marta Martin – Star Trek, NPYD Blue and yes, there are some twisted Adam and Eve connotations worked into the story) who is an “InWorlder”.
At some unspecified point in the future mankind has destroyed the Earth. Some people fled to a Matrix-esque alternate reality computer system called Infinisynth where they live out their dreams inside their own minds, safe and secluded from the world above. (Also, speaking as a techie, I love that in this world a bog-standard serial port is all you need to hook people into an entire virtual world.)
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Judy, though, wants MORE (insert generic Disney Princess I-Want-More song here). She wants something REAL. And so the SysOp (Systems Operator), the Administrator of this little virtual world grants her wish and banishes her to the world above where she can have all the reality, radiation, poisons, cannibals and haggard Bruce Campbell she could ask for.
She swiftly discovers that the world outside of Infinisynth is a nasty, brutish place filled with mutant cannibals called “Crawlers”. Her only friend is her erstwhile rescuer and wilderness instructor Stover (played by the aforementioned Bruce Campbell – Evil Dead, Bubba Ho-Tep). Together they must try and survive this cursed Earth left behind after the not-ever-really-explained end of the world while being hunted by the Crawlers and their bloodthirsty leader, known as The Seer (played by Angus Scrimm – Phantasm, I Sell the Dead).
The movie itself is decently silly. It’s gory, cheesy, and it tries for a kind of double-bluff ending that doesn’t entirely work, but it’s an entertaining way to spend 90 minutes or so, especially if you have some friends round to point and laugh at it. So what does Eureka bring to this new Blu-ray release?
Well, you get an upscaled 1080p version of the film which is… fine. The scenes inside the Crawler tunnels are still a bit on the muddy side, but there’s still plenty of detail. There’s also what the title menu claims is an “audio commentary” but is actually just an interview with former Fangoria Editor Tony Timpone and it simply doesn’t work when played over this film. An audio commentary is supposed to be just that, a COMMENTARY on the material on screen. This is an interview with a guy that is only vaguely tangentially related to the film. At one point Bruce Campbell is being mugged and dragged through mutant-filled tunnels and the commentary track is discussing how Tony once wrote for Starlog magazine. It’s an interview, not a true commentary, so set your expectations appropriately.
Additional special features are thin on the ground for this release. There are two Q&A sessions from “Fangoria’s Weekend of Horrors” in 1990 but these are very poor quality VHS transfers, the picture muddy and the sound tinny and echoey. They don’t make for great viewing, so unless you’re desperate for more Bruce and Angus, they’re not really worth your time. The physical release also includes a limited edition collector’s booklet with a new essay by film scholar Ian Mann, and a new slipcase, but both of these are only for the first 2000 copies.
All in all this feels like a weak release from Eureka, who can and have brought us far better releases. The movie itself is fine, but it’s not a new transfer or restoration, there’s no proper commentary track and the Q&A sessions seem to have had no effort made to clean them up or improve them in any way. This is one for the hardcore Bruce Campbell/90s horror movie fans only.
Mindwarp is out on Blu-ray on 22nd February from Eureka Entertainment.