There hasn't been a future as bleak as the one displayed in MINDWARP in some time. The movie, produced by Fangoria Films (an offshoot of the popular horror magazine) takes the audience through three different futuristic locations, each one more forbidding than the last. Fortunately, as the
settings get worse, the movie gets progressively better, and MINDWARP ends up as an involving horror adventure.
The story opens in a white, sterile household where the young protagonist, Judy (Marta Alicia, whose performance starts out shaky but also improves with time), spends her life plugged into Infinisynth, a computer network that allows the population to live in a world of preprogrammed fantasy. But
Judy's getting tired of living out these packaged dreams and longs for some real action in her life, and before you can say "Be careful what you wish for," she's deposited in the harsh, frightening wasteland that exists beyond "Inworld." After being menaced by deformed, humanoid creatures called
Crawlers, Judy is rescued and befriended by Stover (Bruce Campbell of the EVIL DEAD films), a rugged hunter who takes Judy to his ramshackle house. The two share observations about their respective worlds, and eventually make love, but their solace is short-lived, as a group of Crawlers invade the
house and drag the pair down into their subterranean domain.
Down below, Judy is subjected to the sadistic ministrations of Cornelia (Elizabeth Kent), while Stover is put in chains and forced into slave labor. The Crawlers' lair is filled with the scrap of previous civilizations and lorded over by a self-proclaimed mystic called the Seer (Angus Scrimm).
Stover attempts an escape as Judy is brought before the ruler, but is caught; Judy witnesses the Seer sacrificing Cornelia's young handmaiden Claude (Wendy Sandow) in a giant chipper before being brought before him herself. There, he removes his headdress and reveals that he is in fact Judy's
long-lost father, whom she has been yearning to know. He invites her to rule the underworld with him, but she rejects the idea; meanwhile, Stover, who has been imprisoned in a submerged cage and tortured with leeches, breaks free and once again intercedes to save Judy.
The Seer winds up being sent down into the chipper while Stover and Judy escape to the surface; once there, however, Stover succumbs to the leeches breeding inside him. At that point, Judy suddenly finds herself facing the Sysop, who runs Infinisynth; what she has just gone through was only a
fantasy, and now she is being offered the chance to run the Infinisynth program. She accepts and takes the Sysop's position--and then wakes up from that fantasy, back in her room, just as she began.
One of the most impressive things about MINDWARP is its setting up of three very convincing futuristic environments on what was evidently a low budget; director Steve Barnett's previous work with Roger Corman (he headed up post-production at Corman's Concorde Pictures and directed HOLLYWOOD
BOULEVARD II) no doubt helped out in this area. After a slow-paced start, the movie picks up once Judy hits the wasteland, with some impressive location photography in a landscape where white ice floes run up against black sand beaches. These scenes also benefit from introducing Campbell, whose
rough-and-ready energy gives the film a boost. Once things get underground, PHANTASM veteran Scrimm brings a lot to his own role, playing his occasionally stilted lines with a sense of dignity and grandeur that makes the Seer a commanding presence, and his quiet imperiousness plays well off
Campbell's brash action.
Given the current trend toward "fun" horror, Barnett keeps the mood surprisingly downbeat, and he and screenwriter Henry Dominick are startlingly merciless when it comes to the fates of their characters. This is especially true in the case of Claude, played with sympathetic expressiveness by
newcomer Sandow; what happens to her threatens to send the movie over the line into distastefulness. However, Barnett has done well with material that might have been just gross in lesser hands, and admirably keeps the tone consistent all the way through to the end, even when the closing scenes
try to be a little too tricky for their own good. (Excessive violence, adult situations, sexual situations.)
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Cast & Details See all »
- Released: 1992
- Rating: R
- Review: There hasn't been a future as bleak as the one displayed in MINDWARP in some time. The movie, produced by Fangoria Films (an offshoot of the popular horror magazine) takes the audience through three different futuristic locations, each one more forbidding… (more)