(Warning!!! There will be spoilers—proceed at your own risk!)
Having been a long time Fangoria reader my only exposure to Mindwarp is through that magazine and all I knew of it was that it was a post-apocalyptic movie that starred Bruce Campbell and Angus Scrimm. For those who aren’t familiar with those actors, Scrimm shot to fame playing The Tall Man in Don Coscarelli’s Phantasm franchise and Campbell will forever be connected to his Ash character in Sam Raimi’s Evil Dead trilogy, and as of this review news recently broke that Campbell will be reprising his Ash character in Army Of Darkness 2 movie, which technically makes it Evil Dead 4.
I’ve never been a real big fan of post-apocalyptic movies, so I never had any tremendous desire to see Mindwarp, though I did make a mental note when I first read about it that it was at least noteworthy for having Scrimm and Campbell together in a movie. Scrimm playing the bad guy, Campbell playing the hero. Only other movie pairing I can think of that this pairing reminds of is the 1988 actioner, Black Eagle, which had Van Damme and Sho Kosugi playing villain and good guy respectively.
A few years ago Mindwarp played on cable, late night, I think, and I decided to record it and finally give it a watch. The next day I managed to get about 20 minutes into it before giving up on it. When I heard Twilight Time was going to release it on blu-ray, I decide to give it one more shot. Feeling at least this time I would make it through because I was reviewing it and by that very definition needed to sit through the entire running time.
I was not all that impressed despite the fact that for a very low-budget the filmmakers pulled off a nice looking and convincing movie. Things changed though when the story neared the end. After Scrimm is killed an event happens to the main character that had me thinking she isn’t going to settle with that. And Campbell’s performance started to go a bit over the top. Up until then he was played things rather subdued, which is not how I’m used to seeing him act. The only Bruce Campbell movies I own are the Evil Dead trilogy and Bubba Ho-Tep (2004) and this subdued performance by him in Mindwarp was not something I’m used to seeing. It was actually quite refreshing to watch, but once the leeches got to him, his character changed and it suddenly hit me, oh, I know how this is going to end, and, by God, that’s exactly how it ended.
When I was younger I used to despise movies that ended that way, but I think it worked for this movie and made everything that came before it, everything I was getting bored with, much more appealing.
I’m also convinced now David Cronenberg and the Wachowski brothers must have seen this movie for there is a real heavy Existenz (1999)/The Matrix (1999) vibe throughout. Actually, I’d say this movie is closer to Existenz than Matrix, but both have characters that are plugged into futuristic technology that makes one wonder where exactly does “reality” start.
In Mindwarp mankind has finally blown itself off the face of the map with its nuclear weapons. Those that survived are part of Infinisynth; they live within apartments that have these funky looking hi-tech recliners where one reclines in and a device comes out of the back to port you into this shared computer matrix. Within this “world” you can do anything, be anything, become anything. For Judy (Marta Alicia) she’s sick of this “dream world,” for her she can see the difference, she knows what’s real and what’s not and she rejects it to the point where she spends time in her apartment exercising and pining for someone real to talk with. Her mother is no good, she wants the dream world more than the real world, and her father disappeared years ago.
Infinisynth has a controller who monitors everyone’s inner lives. Once plugged in, Judy has had many run-ins with him for she keeps rejecting the “inner world” and the controller wants her to relent and enjoy it. She insists so much for a “real” experience that the controller finally decides to give her just that. Two men come for her once she wakes, they shove her into a bag, drug her and throw her out into what is left of the world outside, which is nothing but a barren wasteland that’s constantly freezing.
This world is populated by crawlers, deformed, cannibalistic humans that live underground, which only Stover (Bruce Campbell) left in his area to be the only uncontaminated human alive. Judy aligns herself with Stover, but any life she might have with him above ground gets taken away when they are kidnapped and brought into the underground world of the crawlers and the psychotic Seer (Angus Scrimm) who rules over it.
The movie is told through Judy’s eyes and even though Campbell is the stereotypical hero he’s more of a supporting character. Though that doesn’t diminish his performance any. Angus Scrimm was also fun to watch as he metes out all these horrible demises and tortures upon various characters. Incidentally, this version of Mindwarp is the uncut. A minute of footage has been put back. The gore that was initially trimmed has now been restored. There is a vivid and accidental disemboweling that occurs that I can only assume was part of the trim.
Until now, Mindwarp has never been available on DVD. Twilight Time brings it to blu-ray even and the 1080p 1.85:1 anamorphic high definition transfer looks fantastic, and this is a film you would’ve never expected to see on blu. Audio is English 2.0 DTS-MA and it that was good, too. Subtitles are in English only.
Only extras is a TV spot and an Isolated Score Track.
Twilight Time is a boutique label that presses only 3,000 units of any title they release. Normally their genre releases from the 80s and 90s tend to go out of print during the pre-order phase, but right now as of this writing Mindwarp is still available to buy. You can only buy Twilight Time discs from two sites—Screen Archives Entertainment and Shop.TCM.com, so if you want it, do not hesitate.
Note: Interested in reading more about Mindwarp? Find issues #99 and #100 of Fangoria, Gorezone #17 (Interview with Bruce Campbell), Bloody Best Of Fangoria #11 (Interview with KNB) and Horror Spectacular #7 (Interview with director Steve Barnett).