Sunday, October 27, 2013

Blu-ray Review: MINDWARP (1992)


Label: Twilight Time DVD

Region Code: Region-FREE
Rating: R
Duration: 96 Minutes
Audio: English DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 with Optional English Subtitles
Video: 1080p Widescreen (1.85:1)
Director: Steve Barnett
Cast: Bruce Campbell, Amgus Scrimm, Elizabeth Kent

In the year 2037 Earth is a post-apocalyptic wasteland, a nuclear war has erased the ozone layer and the few surviving members of humanity are split into three distinct groups. In an area known as the Death Zone we have the cannibalistic mutants known as Crawlers, then we have the non-mutated humans survivors known as Outworlders who survive on a diet of small animals and evade the menace of the Crawlers. The third group are privileged non-mutated humans living in protected biosphere-styled cities known as the Dreamers who spend most of their life plugged into a virtual reality simulator known as Infinisynth. It's here we meet a young woman named Judy (Marta Martin) who is unsatisfied with her plugged-in life, she craves a more meaningful connection to her mother who is only too happy to live out her opera-singer fantasies inside the Infinisynth system. This virtual reality aspect the film had a strong flavor of Total Recall (1990), it's fun stuff and predicted the family disconnect of the digital age where everyone is plugged into their mobile device, gaming systems or blogging about obscure b-movies. Infinisynth is a pleasant distraction from reality, everyone seems quite content to drink their green-slime protein shakes and immerse themselves in the artificial reality of Infinisynth, everyone that is except Judy. 

When Judy's mom refuses to unplug from Infinisynth the young woman infiltrates her mother's virtual dream in an attempt to wake her up with disastrous consequences, her actions anger the mysterious System Operator who operates Infinisynth, resulting in Judy being exiled from the safety of the city into the radioactive wastelands where she wakes up in a shallow grave. Digging herself out she discovers a macabre collection of crucified skeletons and is soon set upon by the cannibalistic Crawlers only to be saved by an crossbow-wielding Outworlder named Stover (Bruce Campbell, Evil Dead) who gets the better of the puss-faced mutants. After rescuing her Stover shows Judy the way of the wastelands, how to hunt and survive, the two hook-up and are soon captured by more Crawlers and taken to an underground lair where they meet the Crawler's leader, a cult leader of sorts with a human-skin mask named The Seer (Angus Scrimm, Phantasm) who plans to breed a new race of Crawlers with Judy, yikes.

Previous to this viewing I had never watched Mindwarp, which happens to be the first of a trio of films Fangoria magazine funded film in the early 1990's. I had read about this film once in a zine, I new it featured Bruce Campbell and Angus Scrimm but I just never came across the VHS, so it was a nice surprise to see that Twilight Time chose to give it a 1080p release. Evil Dead fans are certainly gonna wanna check this out if just for Campbell's participation, it's definitely a more subdued performance than were used to seeing from him, no quips or one-liners, he plays it pretty straight-faced. Marta Martin as our heroine Judy is pretty decent, but it's hard for here to shine in the presence of Bruce Campbell and Angus Scrimm, Scrimm is super creepy as the priest-like leader of the Crawlers, she's just not very dynamic. 

Mindwarp (1999) is certainly no lost horror classic but it's an entertaining post-apocalyptic viewing with lots of gore and bloodletting with some fun action sequences, it's nice to see it on Blu-ray. The highlights for me were the great set-dressing and gore effects from KNB which are pretty great. Inside the Crawler lair there's a gnarly human meat-grinder, victims go in one end a syrupy red liquid comes out the other, the Crawler's just love to drink up this grue. There are also mind altering leeches which Stover falls victim to only to vomit them up later, some very fun moments of gore and bloodletting, not a classic but an interesting footnote of early 90's low-budget horror.

Blu-ray: Twilight Time's Blu-ray presents the feature in it's original widescreen (1.78:1) aspect ratio with an AVC encode. A very nice transfer with the film grain intact. nice saturated colors and a pleasing amount of fine detail. The solo audio option is an English DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 with optional English subtitles. Dialogue is clean and consistently clear, effects and score are well balanced. 

Special features are limited to a home video commercial for the film and and isolated score track featuring the music of Mark Governor and an eight-page booklet featuring new writing of the film from Twilight Time scribe Julie Kirgo offering some background on the project. 

Verdict: An entertaining post-apocalyptic b-movie with plenty of gore and Mad Max-styled scenery, it's not going to blow your mind but it's great to see this low budget post-apocalyptic adventure on Blu-ray with a nice 1080p presentation. As with all of Twilight Time's Blu-rays this release is limited edition, only 3,000 were pressed, so snag it soon if this sounds like something you want in your collection, available exclusively from 3 Outta 5