"Severed concept" is more like it. As a gross-out for teen viewers, SEVERED TIES passes muster, but as a horror film laced with black comedy, it's a messy hybrid of RE-ANIMATOR and THE BEAST WITH FIVE FINGERS with a little CREEPING UNKNOWN for good measure.
Haunted by flashbacks of his father's murder (a killing actually committed by his mother), juvenile genius Harrison Harrison (Billy Morrisette) poutily demands a better grade of cadavers for his experiments in genetics. Surreptiously working for NordKem, his mother, Helena (Elke Sommer), and her
paramour, Dr. Hans Vaughan (Oliver Reed), want him to finish up his father's uncompleted research in gene-splicing and organ regrowth. During a rebellious snit, suspicious Harrison escapes with a top-secret vial but loses his arm in a metal security door in his lab. Going out on a limb, Harrison
injects the fluid into his severed limb and the arm reattaches but has a mind of its own; no one's ever accused Harrison of being disarming, but his limb can detach and rezattach itself at will.
Befriended by a peg-legged derelict, Stripes (Garrett Morris), Harrison encounters a subterranean band of homeless sewer-dwelling amputees. After arming himself against Preacher (Johnny Legend), their cruel leader, Harrison kills this revivalist, then sends his opinionated appendage and new-found
sewer-gal pal, Eve (Denise Wallace) over to his old lab to retrieve ingredients. While Harrison perfects his research, Eve is captured by Helena and Dr. Vaughan who plan to use her as an all-purposes genetic guinea pig. Injecting fluids into all the outcast defectives, Harrison creates a veritable
army, but he and Stripes have difficulty controlling the unruly troops. Although these newly empowered misfits defeat the NordKem plot by destroying Dr. Vaughan, Helena joins Eve in a splicing chamber (an idea lifted from David Cronenberg's THE FLY); although restored to life, Eve is possessed by
the spirit of Helena.
If the sight of dismemberment chills you to the marrow then SEVERED TIES may engross you as it grosses you out. Then again, you might have just as much fun watching surgical training films.
Serious sci-fi buffs will be turned off by the screenplay's inconsistencies about "arms" control, its off-putting jokey tone, its poorly integrated flashback sequences, its repellent undercurrent of sadism and the dismaying presence of veteran actors who deserve better than playing fall guys in
this adolescent house of horrors. Nothing is developed with any degree of intelligence or consistency in John Nystrom and Henry Dominic's screenplay; nothing in Damon Santostefano's direction rises above the level of hackwork. Though credit can go to the special effects for being gruesome if not
particularly frightening and a one-armed salute to Morrisette's enthusiastic performance, one is left with little else to recommend.
Apt to make the impressionable gag and the discerning shake their heads in disgust, SEVERED TIES may find itself rejuvenated some day on TV's "Mystery Science Theater," the cemetery of all bad movies. There, this loathsome film may get the comic dissection it deserves. (Extreme violence.)
Cast & Details See all »
- Released: 1992
- Rating: R
- Review: "Severed concept" is more like it. As a gross-out for teen viewers, SEVERED TIES passes muster, but as a horror film laced with black comedy, it's a messy hybrid of RE-ANIMATOR and THE BEAST WITH FIVE FINGERS with a little CREEPING UNKNOWN for good measure… (more)