Mill Creek Entertainment wonderfully puts the camp back in summer with the June 4, 2019 pristinely remastered Blu-ray double-feature "Mindwarp (1992) and "Brainscan" (1994). The leitmotif is a virtual-reality experience gone horrifically wrong.
MCE chooses well in pairing these films; the common themes extend well beyond the VR element, and viewers aptly are promised a total of approximately three-hours of escapist fun that lacks a dull moment.
"Mindwarp" is the darker of the two films; it occurs in a post-apocalyptic era in which elite Inworlders (a.k.a. Dreamers) never venture out and spend most of their time in their ideal virtual worlds ala "Ready, Player One."
A quarter-life crisis for 20-something Judy kicks things into high gear. Tired of living a fantasy, she wants real-world experience. This results in her being thrust into the "Mad Max" badlands beyond her safe space. This not-so-teenage wasteland is populated by not-so-teenage mutant warriors known as Crawlers, who are hunting the most dangerous game.
Last-minute salvation arrives via Stover, who is a typical grungy hero played by Bruce Campbell (""Ash vs. Evil Dead"). Their honeymoon period is very short-lived thanks to a Crawler raid on Chez Stover.
Judy becomes a somewhat honored guest of the Crawlers, and Stover is treated more like a host., Both get an up-close-and-personal look at how the Seer operates things; the pair further get a sense of how all things are relative,
A way-cool aspect of "Mindwarp" is how it shows that VR tech. can create an "Alice in Wonderland" or "The Wizard of Oz" existence, This continues through to the awesome twists at the end.
"Brainscan" is the more campy of the two films and looks and sounds especially good in BD. Additionally Edward Furlong ("Terminator 2") contributes a strong '90s vibe in his portrayal of teen gamer Michael.
Michael truly is the victim of a bad influence when slacker best bud/fellow slasher film aficionado Kyle induces him to try the titular new CD-Rom game. Each of the four discs essentially arriving in a
plain brown wrapper adds to the nostalgic fun. This is on top of the film being a Tipper Gore caliber commentary on the evils of computer games.
It is all fun-and-games at first when Michael virtually becomes the killer in the first round of the game. This perspective puts the teen in control as the victim gets the Lizzie Borden treatment; the rude awakening the next morning is that the stiff is a real murder victim.
Michael also soon learns that accepting the terms-and-conditions of the game invites the mischievously evil The Trickster into his life and home in a manner reminiscent of both "Weird Science" and "Poltergeist."
The Trickster becomes an even worse influence than Kyle in that he compels his new minion to continue a killing spree to avoid ending up in juvie. This includes a few felonious acts that hit close to home.
The rest of the story is that police detective Hayden (Frank Langella) is having increasing interest in Michael as a person. Much of this relates to the theory that the perp. always returns to the scene of the crime.
The real fun begins when The Trickster fully involves the literal girl-next-door in the fun-and-games. This leads to Michael having to make another in a series of very tough choices. This is not too mention all this occurring at a time that the figurative noose is tightening around the neck of our excitable boy.
The first big finale twist shows the extent to which The Trickster is phallic; the next one fully proves that boys will be boys.
As indicated above, lovers of good bad-movies cannot ask for anything better than this double feature.