Brain Twisters

May 7, 2016 at 5:39 pm Leave a comment

Humorously mislabeled as “Brian Twisters” on the Mill Creek box set that I purchased, Brain Twister is allegedly a 1991 sci-fi/horror movie starring Farrah Forke and Joe Lombardo. I say allegedly because everything about this movie screams late 80’s and not early 90’s. Dr. Phillip Rothman, played by Terry Londeree, is doing experiments at a small Midwestern college on behalf of an evil corporation. He shows people flashing lights, making them think they are other people or something, then makes them go violent and kill people before killing themselves. I think. The plot is just a tad obtuse. He has a research assistant, Laurie. I am having a hard time identifying her role in the movie. Similarly, I am having a hard time identifying a main character. The movie isn’t about any one person. It’s just a bunch of stuff that happens to this group of people. I am going to go character by character to attempt to piecemeal together this review.

Dr. Rothman is conducting experiments for an amorphous corporation. It has to do with using lights to mind control people and make them have delusions. While in his machine, people seem to people they are completely different people committing murders. The thing is, these murders were committed by other people.  He can adjust the level of violent behavior. Midway through the movie, he objects to the experiments and spends some time in a bar. The evil corporation starts out wanting to shut down the project, them he talks them back into it, then he doesn’t want to do it, then he keeps on doing it for reasons that aren’t entirely clear. When students of his keep winding up dead, Detective  Frank Turi starts investigating Rothman in very unsubtle ways. Rothman gets more creepy has the movie goes forward. Londeree does a good job of during up the creep factor, although the performance cross the line into hammy at points. Any of his interactions with the Detective tend towards the hammy territory. The scene were he buys Laurie an ice cream cone turns out to be surprisingly creepy. In the end, his creature turns against him, as is often the case with mad scientists, and he is killed. The performance is all of the map here. For this reason, I tend to blame the director more than the actor because this is a problem with many of the characters throughout the movie. I don’t think the confusing script did anyone any favors either. Although there may have been deleted scenes that would have explained things better.

Detective Frank starts out investigating the murder of Laurie’s roommate but quickly moves to hitting on her. She freezes out his advances at first but then enters into a sort of relationship with him for no reason that is the film gives you. Frank is a blue collar, Italian detective and he plays that one note throughout the movie. There is never a moment we see in which he warms Laurie’s heart. After his initial investigation, which Laurie stonewalls, he weasels his way into a lunch date with her to track down the roommates boyfriend, Ted, the last person to see the roommate alive. Questioning him at the restaurant  leads Ted to commit suicide by jumping out of a nearby window. It really is the most intense scene of the movie. Ted’s body is donated to the evil corporation. Frank claims to need the body for evidence, although I can’t imagine why. Rothman is reluctant to give up Ted’s body. Frank makes the leap of screenwriting faith and connects Rothman to the string of dead college students. He has no hard evidence or even a reasonable suspicion. In the same sequence, Frank runs into Laurie and keeps hitting on her, even though she isn’t interested. She does, however, start to question her boss, Dr. Rothman, after finding out that Ted’s head was removed from the body for science. I understand perfectly why Rothman would want to study Ted’s brain. I don’t understand why Laurie gets suspicious of Rothman based solely on the removal of Ted’s head. Even when he explains that studying brains is part of science, she gets even more suspicious. Then, for no reason, she agrees to have Frank over for dinner to discuss the case and suddenly, they are dating. Kind of. She does tell him to piss off and throws pasta at him. They patch it up though. Frank goes through the obligatory getting suspended and thrown off the case to set up act three. Through dogged persistance, he cracks the case, saves the girl, and saves the day, although he can’t stop the evil corporation from instituting their master plan. More on that in a bit. I am pretty sure that once you are suspended, you are no longer allowed to crack any cases. This happens in the movies all of the time and never does the hard nosed detective lose his job and get brought up on charges for mettling in police business. I have a hard time criticizing Lombardo for this performance, although it wasn’t very good. He played the role of Italian-American detective just fine. There are scenes though were he appears to be lacking energy and droning through the lines. He isn’t given a lot of range to play with by the script. I don’t know whether to blame the director, the script, or say that the actor got fed up with the whole thing and phoned in the performance.

I covered Laurie’s story, such as it is, with the other two analysis. Now I would like to explore the evil corporation and their plan. They are going to use this flashing light technology to control people and make them insane killers. I am avoiding spoiling the shocking conclusion. Let’s just say, they plan on marketing and selling this technology as a product to an unsuspecting public. What kind of long term success can the evil corporation expect when all of their customers will end up either dead or in prison? Why they are doing this is the main idea behind the whole movie. We never get an answer. The CEO of Evil Corp even shows up at one point and is killed by a test subject. Would they really move forward with rolling out the product after the CEO has been killed as a result of it? Of course they would. Because they are evil and want profit. I can get the evil part but where would they ever profit from this? Unless they are also invested in mental health, prison, and funeral services. Which if they had said that in the movie, I wouldn’t be complaining right now. That makes perfect sense. But instead, we are never given a reason.

This movie is quite bad and I have a hard time recommending it to anyone other than bad movie fans. Even then, it doesn’t quite rise to the level of “so bad it’s good.” They are some chuckle worthy parts to the movie and some well done horror. If you would like to see it for yourself, there is a link below. Go ahead and check it out. Then let me know what you think.


Entry filed under: Horror. Tags: , , , , .

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