In addition to the usual reviews and comments you would find on a horror movie blog, this is also a document of the wonderfully vast horror movie section of the video store I worked at in my youth.

Monday, May 27, 2024

Horror Movie Guide: Brainwaves

It's been a while I know, but I managed to hit up the next movie in the Guide this week. It was Ulli Lommel's 1982 movie Brainwaves, which I may have actually thought was the Chris Walken movie Brainstorm. But no, different brain movie for which I had no reference, except it was what Lommel made between The Boogeyman and Boogeyman II.

After suffering severe head trauma, Kaylie (Susannah Love) undergoes an experimental procedure to repair the damaged synapses in her brain, only to have her recovery complicated by memories of a murdered woman.

Brainwaves is a coherent thriller. If you detect surprise in my text, it is because I wasn't sure Lommel was up to such a task. My prior experiences with his work range from the ridiculous to the unbearable so colour me impressed. It did take a while to get going, as save for the bathtub electrocution at the hop, it seemed like I was watching some sort of Regarding Henry-esque family drama. But, then the unseen reject from the Cult of Thorn re-emerged and I just waited patiently for the two stories to connect.

Keir Dullea & Susannah Love in Brainwaves

Keir Dullea plays the beleaguered father and husband and has the acting chops to hide his no-doubt recurring thoughts of “I went from Kubrick to Clark to this??? The rest of the cast is solid, with Lommel filling it out with players from his previous movie and distinguished character actors like Vera Miles and Tony Curtis - who after The Manitou probably thought this set was sedate by comparison. 

I'm going to take a leap that this movie was made to cash in on the coma fiction that was happening around that time with movies like Coma and Patrick. While it does seem more fiction than science, patients who receive life saving assistance from donors have always been fertile ground for horror movies.

I did notice the score from journeyman Robert O. Ragland seemed to be melding of Psycho & Friday the 13th though I'm not going to complain about that. My only other comment is that I'm not quite sure how Dullea was able to unravel the mystery by just writing a bunch of XX's on a whiteboard, but then again, it was a muddy rip and he did once outsmart HAL.

The Guide certainly seemed to agree with my opinion that this was a significant step up for Lommel, as well.

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