BRAINSCAN (1994) – The Dungeon Review!

This was my first viewing of Brainscan. Call me crazy but I liked Brainscan. Brainscan is a fun little early 90s time capsule. It has a computer game premise. It has Edward Furlong. It has shameless advertising for Aerosmith’s 1993 album Get a Grip. It has a soundtrack featuring the likes of White Zombie, Butthole Surfers, Mudhoney and Primus. It makes me think about my record store days. So inspired I was that I made this slideshow featuring the Primus tune Welcome to This World. Officially this version of the song came from the Primus album Pork Soda, not the soundtrack; but the song is featured in the film.

Michael was in a car accident as a child that killed his mother and he still suffers from nightmares as a teenager. He has a badly scarred knee and walks with a limp as a regular reminder of the incident. Michael is not a terribly popular kid and is considered “weird” by most of his peers. He is a huge fan of horror films and games and even has a horror club at school; at least until the principle bans the club. Michael has a crush on his neighbor Kimberly who he watches regularly from his bedroom window. Kimberly is well aware that Michael watches her. Michael’s best friend Kyle loves horror as much as him. Kyle calls Micheal to tell him about a game called Brainscan advertised in Fangoria. Michael calls the toll-free number and the voice on the other end not only knows his name but where he lives. The game arrives in the mail the next day. The virtual reality first person serial killer game puts you in control. You guide the killer through an environment; you choose the weapon, the style of kill and what you should take from the scene as a souvenir. The next day Michael tells Kyle how awesome Brainscan is; so real that his hands were shaking! Brainscan’s awesomeness is considerably lessened when Michael catches a news story about a man who has been murdered. Michael not only recognizes the house but they state that a foot had been removed; the souvenir he chose to take in the game. He considers that the foot might be in his room somewhere. He opens the freezer and to his horror the foot is indeed inside. Michael is pretty damn freaked! He tries to call the toll-free Brainscan number but suddenly the number doesn’t exist. A few moments later he gets a call from a Brainscan representative. Not just a call, but a personal visit! A man materializes in his room calling himself The Trickster. The Trickster convinces Michael that he left behind a piece of evidence and he can only retrieve it by playing the second disc. Michael’s bad situation gets progressively worst with each disc.

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Shout out to the motherland! Brainscan was filmed in Montréal, Québec, Canada. Michael lives in a very nice upper class neighborhood with his father who is often away on business. We never meet dad, only hear his voice on the phone. Michael has everything a teenager could ever want in his attic bedroom. I sure did like his Igor icon thingy that answered calls and referred to him as master. I think dad was overcompensating a bit for his regular absences. The visuals in the film are adequate. It isn’t exactly the sort of film you expect to get gorgeous cinematography. The scenes where the trickster appears and disappears were pretty sketchy looking. The effects overall were passable but not great and sadly there is little blood and/or gore. The makeup was pretty decent though. There is a scene towards the end with Michael that I can not really go into details about, other than to say the makeup looked pretty good. The Trickster is definitely a creative looking character. He sports a red psuedo-mohawk, a nose ring, knife-like fingernails, waxy skin, deep sunken beady eyes and he seemed to have an abundance of teeth. He is a delightfully creepily comical character.

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I don’t mind Edward Furlong and I thought he was likable and fairly empathetic as Michael. His friend Kyle played by James Marsh doesn’t get much screen time but he is tolerable enough. Kimberly played by Amy Hargreaves gets a fair amount of focus and was a little lifeless. Frank Langella plays dry and humorless Detective Hayden, I wouldn’t call this a shining moment in his career. Brainscan’s best feature is The Trickster. The Trickster is a riot! The Trickster can appear and disappear and use your blood to create a cd-rom. He just might be the devil himself. It goes without saying that a guy calling himself The Trickster would wear a snappy suit and dance around like a jester. It is the aforementioned Primus song that The Trickster pulls out of his jacket and throws on to do a little dance. He is an outrageous, eccentric menace! The energetic T. Ryder Smith really throws himself into the role and is animated and full of energy.

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I had to laugh at the fact that an Aerosmith, Get a Grip poster was hung strategically in Michael, Kyle and Kimberly’s rooms. Obviously this was intentional, but I prefer to think they were giving them away at the mall with the purchase of an Orange Julius. Brainscan’s story isn’t going to blow your mind, but it is decent enough. I would not say it is scary at any point although there are a few tense moments and some good action. There are also some laughs which are mainly courtesy of The Trickster. You might find the ending a bit disappointing, but hang in through the credits for a more satisfying twist. Brainscan isn’t a great movie, but I thought it was a pretty entertaining one.

Dungeon Rating: 3.5/5

Directed By: John Flynn

Starring: Edward Furlong, Frank Langella, T. Ryder Smith, Amy Hargreaves, James Marsh, Victor Ertmanis, David Hemblen, Vlasta Vrana, Domenico Fiore, Claire Riley, Tod Fennell, Michèle-Barbara Pelletier, Dean Hagopian, Donna Baccala, Jérôme Tiberghien

11 Responses to “BRAINSCAN (1994) – The Dungeon Review!”

  1. Computers could do amazing things back in the ’90s.

  2. Yet another great review. This is yet another movie that has escaped my viewing, but I may have to change that. It sounds like a great piece of 90’s nostalgia. Michael doesn’t seem like the wisest of people though. If I called some number and the person on the other end knew things about me, all kinds of alarms would sound off in my brain and I’d just hang up. Hmm, this talking about phones makes me want to watch 976-EVIL again, lol.

    • Yeah, it ain’t going to challenge you in any way., but it does have its share of nostalgia. Michael’s computer is equipped with voice recognition, I don’t recall him ever touching a mouse or keyboard. It is not without corniness and various other flaws but I found it pretty entertaining.

  3. John Flynn directed one of my all-time favorite movies,Rolling Thunder,and I recall reading about Brainscan in Fangoria(I haven’t seen an issue in ages),so I wanted to see the film. Your review sums the movie up perfectly. Not great,but not bad. Ahhhh yes,Frank Langella,I can STILL remember going to see his Dracula when first released,and being so disappointed.Laurence Olivier was horrible as Van Helsing I felt. No one can eclipse Peter Cushing! ; )

    • There is a nostalgia aspect to my enjoyment of this one, but I liked The Trickster. Yeah, I found that Langella Dracula disappointing…too much romantic stuff. I actually liked Langella as Dracula, although he would rank way below those mentioned in our previous comments.

      • Langella was cast as Dracula after he’d starred in the Broadway revival with sets and costumes by Edward Gorey…now I wonder why they didn’t just film the play? (Showtime did that with his Sherlock Holmes and it was terrific; I quote it regularly!)

        • That would have been far more interesting. I’ve seen the Edward Gorey poster for Dracula…very cool…would love it for my wall.

    • Wow, it didn’t occur to me that this was the John Flynn who did Rolling Thunder – you’d never guess from watching Brainscan, ha!

  4. […] HEAR EVIL. SEE EVIL. SPEAK EVIL. « BRAINSCAN (1994) – The Dungeon Review! […]

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