I love bad movies. As evidenced by J.B. Rockwell’s Bad Movie Mayhem, a lot of people do. And, a lot of people take their movie watching way too seriously. Some movies are intriguing, thought-provoking and can generate discussion for hours. Others are mindless fluff and meant to be taken as such and others are just so cheesy they’re delicious. Just because we poke fun at certain movies does not mean we don’t like them (ala Snark Attack). In other words…it ain’t that deep.
What Makes a Movie Bad?
‘Bad’ movies are hard to define. Sometimes they’re unintentionally so, like The Wicker Man with Nicholas Cage(I have got to do a review on that some time). Sometimes they’re made to be bad, for example, Thankskilling. And others are just so head-scratchingly boring and/or confusing that they’re not even really enjoyably bad. They’re just kind of there.
Which brings us to Brainscan.
A teenager is part of an interactive video game where he kills innocent victims. Later, the murders become real.
It’s interactive, and state-of-the-art… It’s not just a game… it’s murder.
Release Year: 1994 | Runtime: 1hr 36min | Genre: Horror | Source: Owned | Country: USA
Last Saturday for the Kali Krew watch it was my pick and I chose Brainscan. I had been quite a while since I’d watched it. I still have it on VHS for Pete’s sake. And it was then that I realized…nostalgia’s a hell of a drug.
I remembered it being so much better. And, to be fair, it’s not godawful. But it just doesn’t have a whole lotta oomph to it. It takes awhile to get going, the Trickster seems overdone and hammy and Frank Langella barely looks interested in his tough-as-nails cop role.
Ok. so, Brainscan is about Michael. A lonely teen who’s considered the ‘weirdo’ and ‘freak’ at school that likes horror and video games. But there are students that seem to like it as well. Enough to start a horror club at the school. So I’m not really sure how he’s the ‘weirdo’. This club is quickly shut down by the principal after he walks in on a movie called Death Death Death, Part Two. Which makes one wonder why it was ok’d in the first place. But the principal says to run the next movie (or activity) by him before the club continues. Which, again, why have it at school? Michael’s got a big fancy house, a dad who’s never home and lots of fancy equipment. Why not have it there? But, I digress.
Michael gets a call from his one and only friend, Kyle. In between perving and peeping on the girl next door they talk about the new ad in Fangoria (yay!) about some hot new game called Brainscan. Michael orders it and the movie (finally) begins. It takes awhile to get going. There’s also a smal scene on Michael’s way home from school (before he gets the game) where we’re introduced to the cop of the movie. A crime (a murder, I believe) that Michael stops for a second to gawk at. And this dings Langella’s ‘weirdo’ radar. Because no one would rubberneck at a crime scene, especially one committed in ultra-white upper middle class suburbia. Nope. That wouldn’t be unusual or noteworthy at all. Nope.
Michael gets Brainscan and is thrust into a murder that is guided by the voice on the phone. Michael’ so jazzed that he dumps his milk all over his face and is super excited about it. He raves to Kyle but wants to play it one more time before sharing. He goes home and the game gave him so much confidence (?) that he goes over to talk to the girl next door that he’s been peeping on, Kimberly. Once there, however, he sees the murder he committed on the tv, freaks out, and leaves.
He goes home to flip out a bit, calls Brainscan and the Trickster shows up to make things zany. I will say that, at the very least, T. Ryder Smith does seem to be having a good time hamming it up and playing the Trickster (and it was before the name became super overused in media, so there’s that).
Various shenanigans happen that includes a dog stealing a foot, Michael murdering Kyle while under the influence of the game (we don’t get to see that murder) and culminates in Michael heading over to murder Kimberly. He gets shot by Langella and the crux of it is at the end, it’s just a game. Michael finishes the game and decides to break all of his stuff (he can afford it, I guess) and is so thrilled that the game wasn’t real that he crashes the party next door to ask Kimberly out. That part is actually cute and puppy love awkward (which fits really weird with the spying).
Brainscan takes a bit too long to get gong and some of the plot conceits make zero sense What does the murder before the game have to do with anything? Nothing. In the confrontation with Kimberly he learns that she’s also been watching (and photographing) Michael as well. Which he somehow still knows. Even though the game wasn’t real. Ok. And the biggest screw you the game pulls is a couple of seconds into the credits it stops and Trickster says “aren’t you forgetting something?” and they show the freaking dog with the foot! It’s not a twist because it makes no sense! The game wasn’t real. Kyle’s not dead, presumably the other guy is not dead either. So where did the foot come from?? The first murder? That didn’t involve Michael? It’s dumb and makes no sense. At all.
Bad movies can be really fun to watch with friends but sometimes they don’t give you enough to work with. Brainscan did not. I’m looking forward to our movie night tomorrow. It’s Final Destination 4 and that one has a lot of meat to work with.
GracieKat was the first co-host of Sci-Fi & Scary, Lilyn’s partner-in-crime, and sub-head of the Kali Krew. She reviews horror books, movies, and games for the site. She also does a weekly Focus on the Frightful feature, and is the site list-maker. She is also in control of the Sci-Fi & Scary podcast which will relaunch soon.