This film deals with subject matter later made famous by The Matrix and while it doesn't have nearly the budget, Mindwarp is still quite enjoyable.
Angus Scrimm always seems to be the bad guy and he plays it so well. Campbell shows that he might have been a better fit than Keannu when it comes to a Matrix flick... then again, it would have made The Matrix into a very different movie I think.
While not perfect and generally not well known, Mindwarp is good fun with plenty of post apocalyptic mayhem and lots and lots of mutants to bring it about.
The similarities to Total Recall will make themselves apparent right away, but Mindwarp doesn't take long to throw you into a post-apocalyptic world you'd expect to see The Road Warrior loitering around looking for an opportunity to relish what was thought to be a dried up natural resource. While Mindwarp can be considered a sci-fi film on the surface, it's most likely a horror film at its roots and that becomes apparent as soon as you realize who's a part of the cast. Bruce "don't call me Ash" Campbell plays the love interest for Marta Martin's Judy while The Tall Man himself, Angus Scrimm, portrays the villainous Seer. While the uniting of these two actors in one film is exciting to horror fans, aficionados may be disappointed when they realize that both Campbell and Scrimm basically have glorified cameos in the film. Neither of their parts seem very large once the film ends, but at least you get to see Campbell get infested by leeches and basically no-sell throwing up his intestines.
Mindwarp is gloriously grotesque, as well. It doesn't even try to shy away from blood or gore, which is fantastic for bloodthirsty horror fans. A perfect example is the meat grinding device the Seer uses as punishment to individuals who disobey him. The device is made from parts you'd find in a garbage dump along with a plethora of human skulls. After the unfortunate victim goes through the machine, their blood is spewed into a bathtub where the Crawlers, a deformed cannibalistic civilization that lives underground, drink the victim's blood. But with all the comparisons to horror come many of the same downfalls many films of the genre have. Mindwarp was made in the early 90's and the leftover cheese from the 80's makes its way into the film practically effortlessly. That means the few attempts at humor in the film will probably make you verbally groan. The acting is also over the top, Campbell and Scrimm have their moments but the wild card is Marta Martin. Her acting is really terrible early on in the film, but slowly gets more tolerable as the film progresses.
Although you'd probably expect more from a film starring legendary horror icons Bruce Campbell and Angus Scrimm, Mindwarp blends the horror, sci-fi, and thriller genres fairly well. The film still has enough cheese injected into it to make it feel like it was made in the eighties; when horror films were at their peak. So while the acting sometimes leaves something to be desired, the concept is surprisingly great and would even go on to influence sci-fi films you're probably more familiar with like The Matrix. Mindwarp is half Mad Max and half The Hills Have Eyes with a little bit of Total Recall thrown in for good measure. This quirky, blood-soaked post-apocalyptic gem is worth unearthing if you're a hardcore fan of horror or sci-fi cinema.
Don't get me wrong, The Chin Man and low budgets go together like Kid Rock fans and wife beating. This is actually a futuristic horror: in an eerily Matrix-like premise 7 years before the fact, disillusioned Judy is fed up with plugging into a computer-generated alternate reality designed to take mankind's collective mind off the horrors of the real world. Once exiled from this "dreamland," she faces the barren post-apocalyptic terrain with lone human Stover (Campbell) for protection. The land-dwellers are menaced by cannibalistic "crawlers"who live throughout a series of tunnels underground.
Sounds kinda cool, right? Well it is, kinda. The problem is that soon after we get the setup, we are plunged into the underground amongst the crawlers and don't see the light of day again until the very end. That's a lot of time to spend in grimy tunnels and poorly-lit chambers (what do you expect? It's underground!) as our heroes try to escape. The makeup effects for the ghoulish crawlers are nothing very special but some of the violence & gore is still pretty potent. One particular scene showing the plucking out of an eyeball and subsequently passing the screaming victim through a giant bladed juicer so their blood can be drunk by the gathered mob shan't be quickly forgotten. Did I mention the victim is a 13-year old girl? Tell me you've seen THAT one before. *Ulp.*
Marta Alicia as Judy is not a very good actress - the credits precede her name with 'Introducing' and might as well have used 'Exiting' as far as movies are concerned. IMDB shows a long list of TV appearances but very little filmwork, although somehow she found her way into J.J. Abrams' Star Trek as 'Medical Technician.' The sets are pretty good, and I liked how the crawlers mined not only to expand their network of tunnels but more importantly to find objects and technology: intact lightbulbs, gears, motors from appliances, all buried from the civilization-ending war. They also throw in a twist ending long before it has become all the rage, which makes it fairly easy to spot.
Possibly worth a look for Bruce fans although he doesn't have as much screen time as one would like. Expect more 'Fi' than 'Sci' and a good amount of the red liquidy stuff that leaks from skin when brutally stabbed.