Goon Review: The Lawnmower Man (1992)

(Before we get started , I’d like it noted for the record that I LOVE MR. JEFF FAHEY!!! 🙂

Now that that my shameless fangirling needs have been appeased, I’m happy to also let you know that this review was submitted by Mr. Andrew Peters…Thanks, Ho-rror Ho-mie! 🙂 xoxo)

I believe the ‘90s had an extravagant way of overblowing technology in movies more than any other era in film. Sure, the ‘70s and ‘80s brought us some far out movies in terms of where they figured technology would go, but look at films like Alien where it’s very lo-fi. Or how about War Games that when you think it about isn’t as farfetched as it may seem. Even the show Max Headroom predicted quite a few things as crazy as that was amidst all its New Coke slinging. It seemed like movies were showing the progression of computers, from controlling ships to how we interact and communicate in the world to becoming a part of a livable cyber-world and while the examples I listed were fairly spot on in predicting the future, most films seemed to miss the idea. Or they were just having fun.

Something that films have yet to portray accurately – or at least non-unintentionally hysterical – is hacking and virtual reality. These were crazes that were taking the country by storm and being portrayed in the stupidest possible way in media. They were often shown as what old people thought young people thought could be marketed as cool; some kid with socks on his arms, neon colored hair and a ‘tude mashing on his keyboard while spitting made up cyber-jumbo, often pitted against “the man.” See films like Hackers or Game Over (a 2003 movie which uses 35 minutes of Sega CD footage as part of the story, I’m not kidding), but every now and then something would come along and take the material a little more seriously and while still being farfetched, it managed to walk a fine line of believability.

1992’s The Lawnmower Man was such a film, even though I think it’s much better looked upon now then when it was upon its initial release.The virtual reality popularity was at its highest, spawning dozens of movies and TV shows, like the underrated VR.5. Sure, the special effects were bad and the idea of VR never lived up to the hype and the fad died faster than the Lambada craze. Outside of film, the idea of virtual reality was never fully realized, but in cinema… it would change your life, become weaponized (somehow) make you god and would take over the world! Hey, at the time it seemed possible, probably because nobody really understood it or just how unimpressively limp it was. Still, some rather cool ideas came out of it. For example, I never thought I’d see a monkey in a bad Robocop costume.

Seriously. That’s how The Lawnmower Man begins. With a chimp doing some bad Robocop cosplay. Well, there is a reason behind it, so it’s not just something random for the sake of being stupid. A pre-Bond and pre-Mrs. Doubtfire Pierce Brosnan stars as Dr. Lawrence Angelo who is using virtual reality to make chimps smarter, because SCIENCE! Of course, the evil corporation (they are always evil, scheming evil plans to do something evil with your well intentioned creation) Virtual Space Industries – or VSI – wants to use it at a weapon and mixed with the chemicals they’ve been feeding it, the chimp goes ape shit (pun totally intended), steals a gun, guns down a guard and escapes. Now, let’s back up for a second here. VSI wants to use monkey soldiers. They are actually training chimps in virtual reality for use in combat. Now, I want you to think about this and then picture a hundreds of chimps dropping out of choppers or parachuting into combat and mowing down the enemy. Holy shit… this is how Planet of the Apes starts. I never thought the guy from Dante’s Peak would be the cause.

So much wild and weird stuff is happening at once and it’s only going to derail from here, so I’m gonna do my best to stay focused. This isn’t the best movie for someone with ADD to try and explain. It also doesn’t help that there’s a bunch of pretty colors and ‘90s computer graphics mixed with some pretty stupid dialogue. Paying attention to what the hell is going on in the plot was hard enough, now I have to try and not laugh at what I’m seeing and hearing.

The chimp eventually ends up finding and befriending Jobe (Jeff Fahey), a simple man who mows lawns. Hence, The Lawnmower Man. Unfortunately for Jobe, his friendship with the chimp is ended when VSI finds and guns down the primate shortly thereafter, but Dr. Angelo takes note of the surprisingly good looking and buff handicapped man and realizes that he mows his lawn. Wow, what a coincidence, huh? Dr. Angelo entices Jobe with the promise of video games that can make him smarter, so long as Father Francis, Jobe’s caretaker, agrees. Fortunately, he doesn’t seem to mind, just as long as it doesn’t get in the way of his lashing Jobe repeatedly with a belt. It’s a minor subplot, but a subplot nonetheless. I should also point out that although this isn’t taken out of the Stephen King story of the same name, but it is a Stephen King cliche that it follows; misunderstood sad sack who is tormented and picked on until he acquires super-powers and gets revenge.

The reason I’m only now bringing up that this was based on a Stephen King novel is because, well, it’s not. Aside from the name and the character being a lawnmower man, this has nothing to do with Stephen King’s story. In fact, Stephen King sued to have his name taking off the film and all promotional material during the film’s release and won.

Dr. Angelo begins with smaller, interactive quizzes and puzzles with Jobe, building him up to some good ol’ VR racing/action games with his neighbor, young Peter who would later move to a shady NYC neighborhood and have an unhealthy obsession with Arnold Schwarzenegger action flicks. Jobe is quickly getting the hang of things, much to Dr. Angelo’s surprise, even more so when Jobe is showing signs of rapid intelligent growth. Jobe is much smarter now, able to comprehend complicated math equations, any event in world history and to not dress like a country version of a Good Guys doll. One might say he is learning too fast and Dr. Angelo is becoming concerned, but luckily a sultry woman in need of her fluids getting checked, Marnie (played by one of the sexiest creatures on this planet, Near Dark’s Jenny Wright) distracts Jobe with mowing her lawn… and I mean that in both ways. She lays the sexual innuendos on so thick, it’s like biscuit batter. Not a very subtle approach, but then again she still thinks Jobe is mentally challenged. Wait, so why is she hitting on him?

Meanwhile, The Shop (another Stephen King reference) led by a giant head on a TV screen of Dean Norris sends someone to babysit Dr. Angelo and swaps out the improved chemicals he’s been giving Jobe with the old ones that made the monkey crazy to expedite results. Soon, things escalate and Jobe realizes that he now harnesses the power of telekinesis and telepathy and quickly becomes more overwhelmed by his powers and his learning speed. This starts to send him spiraling down a dark path, no longer having content for humans, because of the atrocities they’ve caused and with his newfound powers, sets out on a course of revenge. He even gears up in a sweet VR cyber suit, so at this point it’s almost like a superhero flick, which makes sense seeing as how Jobe’s character was obsessed with comic books. Becoming too powerful for this mortal realm, he decides it’s time to infiltrate the cyber world to take over the world! After all, they didn’t spend all this money on CG for nothing.

I’m sure everyone remembers all the promos on TV and especially in print of the cyber-Jobe. I remember seeing that image of his golden face against that blue, honeycombed patterned background. Advertisement for this movie was everywhere and they were expecting this thing to be huge. On a ten million dollar budget, the film only did about three times as much which wasn’t as much as the studio had expected it to make. Combine that with mixed to negative reviews, the film just kinda came and went. The virtual reality craze was on its way out seeing as how technology just wasn’t quite there and the way it was portrayed in media was now seen as a joke, The Lawnmower Man just went away. It did get a direct to video sequel in 1996, The Lawnmower Man 2: Beyond Cyberspace (retitled to The Lawnmower Man 2: Jobe’s War for home video), but it was pretty much hated by everyone and still is. Personally, I fucking love it. It’s one of those ‘so bad, it’s good’ films.

What blows my mind is that Hollywood is still trying to make this movie. Not The Lawnmower Man, but the idea itself of a being becoming so intelligent that it wants to rule the world via computers. Transcendence comes to mind and shades of Lucy as well. It’s a recycled plot that for whatever reason people aren’t really interested in. I think it’s because The Lawnmower Man, as absolutely silly as it is once you think about it, did it really damn well. Sure, it’s not only taking the name from a Stephen King story, but similar plot elements with other various Stephen King stories. Not only that, the basic idea of a simple man becoming more intelligent through the use of technology is the premise of the novel Flowers for Algernon. In essence, you could say The Lawnmower Man is mish mash of cyber-punk with Stephen King tropes. And to be honest, I think it’s fantastic for that. Directed by Brett Leonard (who also directed to paranormal/zombie flick The Dead Pit) took various ideas and materials and wanted to make something that mixed the then trendy cyber-punk idea with various horror elements, like slasher and the idea of a ghost in the machine or a being becoming too powerful to control.

I have to also hand it to all of the actors involved for really selling what is pretty much an atrocious idea and making it work. Normally, this sort of film would have terrible special effects (well, worse than the ones on screen, even though they looked fairly decent for 1992) and littered with technobabble jargon, but all of that stuff is reserved. The use of VR footage is mostly scarce until the climax and Dr. Angelo talks like a normal human being instead of some “hip” hacker type of character just spitting out nonsense dialogue. Jeff Fahey even manages to make Jobe sympathetic, even when he begins to become too smart for himself and goes on a killing spree, but my favorite performance by far is Jenny Wright, because we get to see her boobs. I don’t care if that’s immature, she’s beautiful and so is her body. I’ve always had the hots for her.

The Lawnmower Man is finally available on Blu-ray, both the theatrical and the director’s cut on a 2-disc set thanks to your pals at Scream Factory. Disc one features the theatrical cut, which is also a 4K scan from the original interpositive and has a new look at the film called Cybergod: Creating The Lawnmower Man, featuring interviews with co-writer/director Brett Leonard, actor Jeff Fahey, editor Alan Baumgarten, make-up effects artist Michael Deak and special effects coordinator Frank Ceglia. Brett Leonard and Gimel Everett (writer and producer) provide an audio commentary and you can find some deleted scenes as well as the original EPK, some edited animated sequences and of course, the trailer and TV spots. Disc two is where you’ll find the director’s cut (which is also a 4K scan from the interpositive with additional “Director’s Cut” footage from the original camera negative) alongside another audio commentary from Brett Leonard and Gimel Everett, concept art, BTS and productions stills, as well as some storyboard comparisons. Needless to say, you get a lot of bang for your buck, but for me, just having both cuts of the film looking as freaking beautiful as they do here is worth it alone.

I absolutely adore The Lawnmower Man and that might have something to do with my fondness for the way the media sees computer hacking, gaming and technology. It brings back good nostalgic feelings and it’s worth some chuckles, but this film also takes itself very seriously and gets kinda dark at moments. Even though the idea of the movie is silly, it never once leads you to believe this is a joke and maintains a relatively good balance of taking place in the real world. Hopefully Scream Factory will release Jobe’s War in the near future.

Creepy Comic Carnival: The “Sins of the Father” Edition AKA Happy Father’s Day!!

“Ladies and gentlemen, attention please!
Come in close, so everyone can see!
I got a tale to tell.
A listen don’t cost a dime..
..And if you believe that, we’re gonna get along just fine!”

Heh.. heh.. heh… Welcome back to my Fear Fair of Fear Fare, my abominable audience! Today’s  Father’s Day, so I’ve got a twisted exhibit that’ll make you cry for your daddy! It’s a putrid parental potboiler we call… Father’s Day!

Sound familiar, Fear Freaks? Well, it should! Father’s Day  was adapted from Creepshow, the clas-sick of sick sin-ema from professional sickos Stephen King and George A. Romero. The comic was written by King and illustrated by Bernie “Swamp Thing” Wrightson. Their chiller-diller is about the worst kind of deadbeat dad… the kind who won’t stay dead!
Remember, carnage carnies… father knows BEAST… even if he’s been living under a headstone!
For your amusement and DEADucation, Here’s Father’s Day:

Sorry, Folks! The Carnival is closed. All Out and Over, All Out, All Over!

 

News Bleed: The “The Nun Gets a Clue” Edition

This new Clue (1985) documentary will unravel the mystery. (PS- #FUCKYEAHCLUEROCKS!!!!! 🙂 Bloody Disgusting
New plot details emerge for Rampage and it sounds like a monstrously good time! 🙂 MovieWeb
The tree-mendous From Hell it Came creeps onto Blu-ray. 🙂 Dread Central

The unbelievable Night Trap gets an unbelievable re-release on PS4 & Xbox One! 🙂 Polygon

Jeff Goldblum, uh, finds a way into Jurassic World 2! 🙂 Hollywood Reporter

Taissa Farmiga of AHS fame will scare the holy heck out of us in The Nun! Entertainment Weekly

Stephen King will shine in a Mr. Mercedes cameo. (Ps- #FUCKYEAHSTEPHENKINGROCKS!!! :)) JoBlo

#MadMonsterMonday Quickie: George A. Romero on Creepshow

(An in-spirit continuation of the Alice-ness I just posted. I just figured this was too much Manly Meatiness for one #MMM post to cover properly. 😉 xoxo)

On this previous spooky Saturday, Horror Legend and King of the Zombies George A. Romero was born! In honor of this mad movie maestro, we’ve dug up these 9 creeptastic hosting segments with the Master discussing our favorite fright film of his… Creepshow!

This bit of hosting was aired on TNT, presumably during the horror block Monstervision, a favorite here at Kinky Horror. In it, Master Romero bares his bones and dishes out some stories, secrets, and scares related to his comic creeper. Enjoy, my fellow fright fiends!









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Goon Review: Carrie (1976)

(Submitted by my patient, awesome friend, Mr. Andrew “Goon-y Goon” Peters…Thanks, Ho-rror Ho-mie!! I’m a gettin’ there!! 😉 xoxoxo)

carriereview17Believe it or not, there was a time when Stephen King films were actually good. I know it sounds crazy, but it’s true.  (“How dare you, sir?!!! I’m literally listening to the Pet Sematary soundtrack as I write this!! #STEPHENKINGADAPTATIONSRULE!!”-D.P.) His novels weren’t always adapted into crappy (yet entertaining for all the wrong reasons) TV movies, but rather into very moody, dramatic and scary films, even if he didn’t like them. Yeah, the guy thought people weren’t doing Stephen King right. He hated The Shining and even directed Maximum Overdrive himself and wrote the screenplay for The Shining TV mini-series. Uh, he also had some demons he was battling at the time, so maybe his judgement wasn’t the greatest. I know it seems like I’m giving him a hard time, but we always do to the people or things we respect. He’s done a great deal for horror and for that I thank him. His stories usually take place in Maine and follow a similar formula and include what are now known as the “Stephen King cliches”. These are so identifiable, that there’s even a drinking game. This doesn’t mean that they are bad, in fact, good writers write about what they know or incorporate cliches to their advantage, but at the end, I think if you had fun or a good scare, then it was all worth it.

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Carrie is one of his works that has always struck a chord with me. I think it’s something most of us outcasts, us dorks, can relate to; being the unpopular one at school that’s picked on… until one day it’s gone too far and enough is enough! I remember the turning point for me when I was bullied. I didn’t do anything horrible, don’t get any wrong ideas, but I unbeknownst to my bullies I had been taking martial arts for nearly a year. I was in the cafeteria trying to find a corner to eat my food and as soon as I sat down, they approached me. One took my lunch and threw it in the garbage that was close by and shoved me asking what I was going to do about it. I stood up and asked him to stop and he didn’t, so I let him have that. His friends were stunned and guess what? They were all nice to me after that. I’m not promoting violence, just relating to the story of Carrie, as it brought back memories of that moment as I watched Scream Factory’s newly released restoration of the film. (“Damn, son, that’s deep.” *hugs*)

carrie9Carrie White is an outcast, a dweeb, whatever you want to call her… and they do. The opening of the movie is seemingly at first a shower scene in a girl’s locker room after a game of sport ball and also serves as gratuitous nudity underneath the opening credits, which is kind of a genius move on director Brian DePalma’s part.

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As if being harassed and threatened for not being good at sports wasn’t Hell enough for Carrie, she also happens to get her first period at this time and since she was never told about this cycle, she believes she is bleeding to death and understandably freaks out about it. Rather than calm her down and talk to her, the girls circle around her, trapping her in a cage of assholes and throw tampons at her until the gym teacher arrives and breaks it up.

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Even the principal seems to be giving her crap when she’s questioned about what happened, because the stupid jerk can’t even get her name right. Well at least she can go home and have her mother comfort her… Turns out, her home situation is far worse as her mother is clearly insane and living by the made up words of the Bible. No, that wasn’t a shot at religion, the scripture that her mother is quoting isn’t even in the Bible, so it goes to show you how far off her rocker that woman really is.
Think you had it bad when your parents wouldn’t let you play Nintendo for a week? Carrie’s mother locks her in the closet with nothing but a photo of Jesus. Carrie is not allowed to have friends, go outside, wear makeup or anything else that would make Carrie appear to have a sliver of fun or normality. At this point, you can’t help but feel bad for Carrie, especially with Sissy Spacek’s performance as the wide-eyed, pale titular character. But there’s something about Carrie that she isn’t telling anyone; she has the ability to move things with her mind. Telekinesis.

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At first, she only seems to be able to make something happen quickly when she becomes overly emotional, enraged. But throughout the course of being locked in the closet or in the privacy of her own home, she realizes if she focuses hard enough that she can fully control her power. This could come in handy… or we could get a sweet spin-off where she fights the X-Men, since she’s basically Jean Grey. A redhead that can move things with her mind and becomes way too powerful when she loses her shit? C’mon now.

carrievphoenixHer classmate and one of the girls from the locker room fiasco, Sue, starts to feel bad for Carrie and decides to do something nice for her; she wants her boyfriend Tommy (the Great American Hero, William Katt), a good looking young buck who happened to like one of Carrie’s poems, to ask Carrie to the prom and make sure she has a good time. No tricks, no mean pranks, nothing. Just a good time. Understandably, Carrie is reluctant, but Tommy insists until she says yes. But Sue’s friends Chris and Norma, played by Nancy Allen (Robocop) and PJ Soles (Halloween) in very ballbusting performances, aren’t just gonna let Carrie have a good time. Chris gets her boyfriend Billy (Mr. Saturday Night Fever himself, John Travolta) to go along with the ultimate prank after some, ahem, oral persuasion that is gonna give Carrie White a night that she will never forget.

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Unfortunately for them, it may also be a night they will never forget or should I say escape! It’s one of the most iconic horror movie climaxes in movie history, being eerily shot by Brian De Palma as he opts for a dual shot of Carrie’s reactions mixed with what she is doing telekinetically as the vibrant lights turn on, doors slam and things move, creepy strings begin to swell and tense, but never break and then people begin to die.

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Most people would consider Carrie to be a horror movie classic or even a staple and in that regard, I have to agree. Carrie unintentionally shaped not only supernatural horror, but it’s “surprise” ending has been mimicked time and time again in horror films, even to this day. In fact, the creators of Friday the 13th said they wanted their movie to end the way it did, because they had just seen Carrie.

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Of course, the final scare type ending has been done to death and has well passed worn out its welcome, but it still works with Carrie and it’s welcome, because it was done right and it fit. That’s probably because it’s a well put together movie, from the cinematography to the characters, I thoroughly enjoy the film. Carrie’s classmates violently and relentlessly harass her for her upbringing, her own personal views and for not being athletic or anything else out of her control or she chooses because she likes or wants to be an individual for. Basically, her classmates are proto-YouTube commenters, which is very interesting that the way these kids act is probably more relevant today than it was back then, because of “social justice warrior” that don’t quite get it or the surge of bullying that seems to plague the US. Her torment drudged up memories of being bullied myself and I wanted to hug poor Carrie. Sissy Spacek brought the character to life and made her someone you actually care about, which is more than what you can say about most films, especially the remake. (“But The Rage was The Tits!!!” 😉 -Still DP, and I highly doubt Mr. Goon will concur. ;))

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Scream Factory’s beautifully repackaged Blu-ray with new (and of course it’s reversible) is more than just a pretty looking package, it’s also a pretty looking presentation with a brand new 4K scan of the film. This is pretty much how I imagined the film looking in theaters when it first debuted. Compared to the older DVD I have, there was a HUGE improvement over the video and audio quality. Most of the dust and scratches are gone, but in an older film like this, you kind of miss them. Aside from the usual trailers, photo gallery, TV spots and what have you, Scream has loaded a second disc full of special features that include all new interviews with the main cast and crew as well as some older features thrown on the disc for good measure. There’s a few hours worth of stuff to keep you busy and to get your money’s worth.

carrie_beautyshot300dpi-1It’s not a forgotten gem and it’s not an overlooked movie, but Carrie is remembered just as it should be; a classic that has inspired countless other horror films throughout the years. There is a reason this film holds up to this day; the characters are relatable and, this part is key, it’s still scary.

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Ho-stess’s PS- #TBT to the night of the “Carrie Prom”, here in LA last month. 🙂 xoxo

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(If you followed me on Snapchat, you could’ve seen all this magic unfold in real time… #DianaPrinceXO #JustSayin’ 😉 xoxo)

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(I realize that’s the darkest, poopiest vid ever, but I LOVE that fluffy pink dress, so it’s still gettin’ posted. 😉 xoxo)