PCR past banners
Now in our tenth calendar year!
PCR #490 (Vol. 10, No. 33). This edition is for the week of August 10--16, 2009.

"District 9"  by Mike Smith
Hippiefest 2009  by ED Tucker
Summer Memories: Baseball Hall of Fame  by Chris Woods
FANGRRL Gets BRAINJACKED  by Lisa Scherer Ciurro
DVD Review: Tokyo Gore Police  by Jason Fetters
The Aughts Are Not Great .... .... .... .... .... .... .... h  by Brandon Jones
Jfk Had It Right .... .... The Image .... The Lingo .... The Alternative? .... Why Are They Mad? .... .... f  by Brandon Jones
Michael Vick Seen In Chicago, Ends Up In Philly .... Hmm, He Looked Like A Bowling Pin! .... Usa Vs. Mexico .... It’s Tusker Time! .... .... .... .... i  by Chris Munger
Lions And Tigers And....cheese? Oh My! .... The Stewardess Is Flying The Plane! .... Passing On .... Good Thing He Didn't Call It The "dead And Buried" Tour .... .... .... .... .... My Favorite Films, Part 2... i  by Mike Smith
Archives of Nolan's Pop Culture Review
Archives 2009
Archives 2008
Archives 2007
Archives 2006
Archives 2005
Archives 2004
Archives 2003
Archives 2002
Archives 2001
Archives 2000
Email PCR
FANGRRL by Lisa Scherer Ciurro


Drill the brain. Command the mind. Control the world.

That's the plot summary of the new movie Brainjacked, right there. Local filmmakers Andrew Allan and Andy Lalino are up front about wanting to provide audiences with good old-fashioned horror/sci-fi thrills and chills, and the Brainjacked tagline is up front about what audiences can expect.

I'm happy to say that Brainjacked delivers. After watching a rough cut back in November, I was thrilled to have the chance to see the finished film up on the big screen a couple of weeks ago. Brainjacked premiered to a packed, standing-room-only audience at Clearwater Cinema Café on August 1. (Cast, crew, friends, family and one lucky fangrrl got to see the film the night before the public premiere.)

Drill the brain.

Brainjacked tells the story of the troubled teenager Tristan (Chris Jackson) and what happens to him after he runs away from his extremely dysfunctional home. Alone and homeless, he meets the beautiful, eccentric Laney (Somali Rose), who takes him to a rehab center for runaway teens called The Garden. There Tristan meets Dr. Karas (Rod Grant), who offers Tristan food, shelter, clothing, love, acceptance AND a cure for those devastating migraines he's been getting. Sounds perfect…except that the cure for those nasty headaches involves trepanation, which means being strapped into a chair while Dr. Karas drills a hole in your head. Live alone on the street, hungry and in pain, or join the sinister Dr. Karas' eerie, mind-controlled "family"? Decisions, decisions.

Director Andrew Allan's son Creighton as one of Dr. Karas' victims

Command the mind.

The two Andys' love of classic sci-fi and horror cinema is evident by the many homages throughout the film. Brainjacked is beautiful to watch: awash with vibrant reds, blues and greens that made me think of Suspiria. The retro-futuristic look of The Garden and the short white dresses worn by the young women in Dr. Karas' "family" are reminiscent of Logan's Run. One of the chase scenes called to mind one of the Planet of the Apes movies. (I think maybe Conquest of the Planet of the Apes, but don't quote me on that.) When Laney's mind was being controlled by Dr. Karas, her zombielike, Stepford Wives blank stare was awesome to behold.

Don't get me wrong – there's plenty of originality in Brainjacked. The above-mentioned homages are my interpretation, so besides not knowing if they're intentional or not, I don't even know if they're really even there. (Maybe I've been brainjacked or something.) The cinematography and editing were exceptionally well done and were a big part of what I liked about Brainjacked. (The music was nicely done as well.)
Rod Grant as Dr. Karas

The actors – sometimes one of the weaker parts of local films – were surprising solid in Brainjacked. Newcomer Chris Jackson was good in the lead role, Somali Rose was really amazing and fun to watch, and Joel D. Wynkoop added his usual bit of crazy through his cameo role as a TV anchor. And then there's Rod Grant as the sinister Dr. Karas. Wow. Rod Grant can play creepy like nobody's business. Grant's "evil scientist" role – which came thisclose to being slightly overplayed in a campy way – was perfectly suited for him and will probably typecast him for life. (But he's just so damn good at playing creepy!)

The film, described as a horror/sci-fi ("horror-fi") combination, seems to be a mix of genres. Brainjacked is not quite scary enough to be a horror film, but yet not quite suspenseful enough to be a thriller. It's stunningly beautiful, but yet sometimes borderline campy. There were times when the look of the film didn't sync up with the film's storyline. That's neither here nor there, I suppose, because I enjoyed the movie even though I don't know how to categorize it.

The bottom line is this: Brainjacked is a grindhouse/Giallo mash-up with zombies, blood and gore, some T&A, and an evil scientist who creates mind-controlled slaves by drilling holes in their brains….what else do I need to say?

Control the mind.

Congratulations to LOCAL filmmakers Andrew Allan and Andy Lalino, and to all the LOCAL cast and crew of Brainjacked, on their new LOCAL film. Good job, guys.

I've heard rumblings of additional local screenings in the near future, but haven't heard anything definitive yet. Any news I hear will be posted in the Tampa Bay Area Indie Film News section, so keep an eye out.

P.S. If you're ever offered trepanation as a headache cure, don't do it. Take some Excedrin instead. Trust me on this.

[Photos courtesy of Film Ranch International; used with permission.]

[UPDATE 8/14/09: I had Joel D. Wynkoop's middle initial wrong in my original article; sorry about that.]

"FANGRRL" is ©2009 by Lisa Scherer Ciurro.   All graphics, except where otherwise noted, are creations of Nolan B. Canova.  All contents of Nolan's Pop Culture Review are ©2009 by Nolan B. Canova.