BRAINSCAN BLU RAY REVIEW (SCREAM FACTORY)
Brainscan is a 1994 horror film directed by John Flynn (Out for Justice, Lock Up, Best Seller, & Rolling Thunder). This is based on the computer-game “Brainwaves” also known as “Brainscanners” in Europe.The soundtrack features various hard rock, grunge, & heavy metal music from Mudhoney, White Zombie, OLD, Dandelion, Primus, Tad, Pitchshifter & the Butthole Surfers. A lonely boy named Michael Brower (played by: Edward Furlong from Pet Sematary II, Terminator 2, American History X, & Detroit Rock City) lives an isolated existence in his absent father’s mansion. Michael’s mother was killed in a car accident, which also permanently injured his leg. When he’s not playing video games he spends his spare time stalking his neighbor Kimberly (played by: Amy Hargreaves from Blue Ruin, Wonderstruck, Homeland, & 13 Reasons Why) who happens to be his crush. Since Michael stays to himself & he’s considered weird by most of his classmates he only has one friend Kyle (played by: Jamie Marsh from Evolver, Pie in the Sky, Best Laid Plans, & The Forsaken). They both enjoy the same hobbies which include horror movies & they even have their own club for it at school. Dr. Fromberg (played by: David Hemblen from Maximum Risk, Tales from the Cryptkeeper, Short Circuit 2, Tommy Boy, & La Femme Nikita) bans it after catching them watching “Die, Die, Die Part 2” & demands that he must approve all content before viewing it there. Michael is told about a mysterious new game & calls to order it. He doesn’t have much luck when trying to get it so he doesn’t really give it much thought after that. Until it randomly shows up at his house without him ever giving out that information to the company. He gives in to temptation & gives it a shot. It’s the most realistic game he’s ever played & the murder felt so real. The next day while trying to visit Kimberly, he sees the exact crime he committed on the game on the news. He freaks out & leaves right away. He checks out the scene of the crime & runs into Detective Hayden (played by: Frank Langella from Dracula, Masters of the Universe, The Box, & Superman Returns). Trickster (played by: T. Ryder Smith from Nocturne, The Venture Bros., & American Experience) appears & tells Michael he must finish the game. He tells him that he has to kill the only witness. Michael doesn’t believe it’s real & tries to figure out the horrible situation by playing some more of Brainscan! This leads to nothing but destruction & regret as Michael struggles to deal with his new reality. How can he escape this deadly trap? Is he really killing them? or Is it the Trickster who’s playing mind games with him? Entertainment has never been this dangerous!!!!
Brainscan had potential to be the next big horror franchise! It took advantage of the new technology at the time & Trickster was such a cool villain with so much charisma. The concept was pretty creative & it could have went various different directions in later sequels on how it was set it up. What happened? It’s a real shame it all stopped with this one feature. The special effects were great in this but the visual effects are beyond dated compared to these days. They definitely look silly but at the time this was made they were considered the highest quality. Technology has drastically changed since 1994 & it shows here. It kinda just reminds you of that specific year & brings you back for a little bit with this viewing experience. One of the best things about this production was the music. It had an awesome line up of featured bands for the soundtrack & the unforgettable score by George S. Clinton. Edward Furlong gives one of his best performances of his career & veteran actor Frank Langella elevates everything that he’s in. Brainscan is very entertaining & fun, it represents the early 90s to the fullest. It’s a great reminder of what horror used to be like back then.
Let’s talk about the high definition presentation from Scream Factory! This 1080p (1.78:1) transfer is definitely a upgrade compared to the old OOP DVD release from Sony Pictures that I’ve owned for a long time now. Everything shows up in great detail & it actually makes some of the dated visual effects look a little silly but it adds to the nostalgia so it works. This is the best that Brainscan has ever looked on home video! The English 2.0 Stereo DTS-HD MA track is very clean & it’s also an improvement from all the previous releases. The true highlight is the music is this feature! The soundtrack is great & the top notch score from George S. Clinton (Austin Powers trilogy, Mortal Kombat, Hellbound, & American Ninja 2/3). It’s one of my personal favorite scores of all time in the horror genre. It has a Twin Peaks meets A Nightmare on Elm Street vibe to it. It also has English subtitles. Very impressed with this Scream Factory & Sony Pictures collaboration so far, looking forward to the next release!!!!
Let’s discuss the special features on this blu ray disc! “Audio Commentary” with assistant to the director Tara Georges Flynn moderated by Red Shirt Pictures own Michael Felsher. He is the son of director John Flynn. He talks about traveling a decent amount during his childhood. He says he meet & seen some big stars while on set for some of his father’s films. He brings up being an extra in a few of them. He mentions some of his jobs in the movie industry. He chats about filming in Canada & making it look like New Jersey. He talks about the cast & crew for the production. He brings up the effects for the film. They talk about John being unfamiliar with the horror genre & stepping in new territory with this project. They mention it’s one of the first experiences where he didn’t have a huge star as his lead. He talks about working with Edward Furlong & hanging out with him at a concert. He talks about the visual style & look of Brainscan. They chat about the visual effects & using them for the first time. He talks about his overall experience on Brainscan. He mentions all of his dad’s other projects & goes over his career, They bring up the music for the feature. He brings up that Quentin Tarantino was a huge fan of his father & always considered him an influence. They talk about it’s theatrical release & how it was received by critics. There’s never a dull moment here & the conversation keeps flowing the whole time. Tara Georges Flynn is very knowledgeable & passionate about his father’s work. “A Virtual Debut” is a little over 14 minute interview with screenwriter Andrew Kevin Walker. He talks about the relationship between the two main characters. He says he was making lower budget stuff than Troma at the time. He brings up how he got the opportunity for this & his experience with the project. He mentions that his parents let him take time off work to write this script. He talks about the original screenplay didn’t have Trickster character in it. It was just a voice but it was re-written & changed when it got filmed. He said he had no clue this was being made until he seen the trailer which had his name on it. “Talking With Trickster” is an almost 14 minute interview with actor & villain T. Ryder Smith. He talks about being a theatre actor helped him get the role. He chats about working with the director John Flynn & lead actor Edward Furlong. He says the original look for his character was much different than the final version seen in the film. He said they tried several different looks for Trickster.
He mentions the long process of the special effects make up for this role. He chats about his overall experience with Brainscan & brings up seeing it when it hit the big screen. “Merging Realities” is 19 minutes & it covers the special effects in the film. It has interviews with supervisor Steve Johnson, artists Andy Schoneberg & Mike Smithson. They talk about this being the end of the glory days & digital taking over. They say Trickster look is based off Keith Richards. They talk about the character had a different look before filming. They talk about it being earlier interaction between practical & digital effects. They bring up a creature that was scrapped from the final cut & it has behind the scenes footage for it. They joke about getting interrogated about their work in this film. The producers were trying to save $50 avoiding the issue & the permit mistake ended up costing them $30,000 after it was done. After getting out of jail they went straight to the strip club. They chat about their experience on the production & working with T. Ryder Smith. “Musical Virtuosity” is a little over 11 minute interview with composer George S. Clinton. He says Cheech & Chong got him into making music for films. He talks about how he got the gig for this. He mentions that he’s picky about what horror work he does. He brings up his technique & motivations for the score. He says he didn’t really deal with the Trickster character. He was mainly covered by the soundtrack. He jokes about trying to sneak his own original song under a fake name on the actual soundtrack but the producers turned it down right away. He talks about revisiting the feature before this interview & he’s glad the music still holds up after all these years. Archival “Trickin’ With Trickster” is a little over 5 minutes & it has behind the scenes footage from the production. A rare “Deleted Scene”. “Behind-The-Scenes Footage” is almost 8 minutes & it gives you more of an inside look from the film. Last but not least, it has all kinds of promotional material for Brainscan which include a “Teaser Trailer”, “Theatrical Trailer”, “TV Spot”, “Behind-The-Scenes Photo Gallery”, & “Still Gallery”. I am actually surprised this wasn’t labeled as a “Collector’s Edition” because it has a good amount of extras on it! I am so glad this film finally got the proper treatment it deserved from Scream Factory & it comes HIGHLY RECOMMENDED from me, It’s available in two weeks, check it out!!!!