What started off as a sequel to The Hills Have Eyes, Mind Ripper evolved into a sci-fi horror film featuring a monster who sucks the brains out of hapless scientists in an underground bunker. If that doesn’t sound amazing, how about the fact that Wes Craven is the executive producer and his son, Jonathan Craven wrote and produced the film. Still not convinced? How about the fact the film stars Lance Henriksen, who to this day still regrets being in the movie. Yeah, I knew that one would entice you…
Deep in the desert (technically, a tiny area in Bulgaria that kind of looks like the desert, but not), a group of scientists find a man on the verge of dying. They bring him into their bunker and inject him with a virus that is meant to regenerate him and let him live. However, as the military often does, they want this virus to be used as a super soldier program instead of a cure for diseases. Lance Henriksen’s character doesn’t agree and leaves the program. Meanwhile, the remaining scientists, one of which is played by the super hot Claire Stansfield, are continuing their research, and unbeknownst to most of them, the lead scientist is speeding up the study, causing the man to grow super huge, and lust for delicious brains. The supercharged man breaks free, and all hell breaks loose. Time to call in the big gun: Lance Henriksen (along with Giovanni Ribisi in his feature film debut, yummy Natasha Wagner, and her dipshit boyfriend.)
Who’s to say if maybe we would have been better off with an actual The Hills Have Eyes sequel (although, the plot was supposed to take place in space=ugh!), but Mind Ripper turns out to be a pretty darn enjoyable horror film. Sure, the flick reeks of that 90s horror look we all love to hate, but there are plenty of highlights to keep horror fans invested. The killer, a hulking Fabio lookalike is interesting as the monster, who shows some remorse and regrets some of the things he ends up doing. The special effects by Image Animation (Hellbound: Hellraiser II, Candyman) are enjoyable given the limited budget. One scene, in particular, was the most disgusting, gut-wrenching thing I’ve witnessed in a movie before (hint: toe). The look of the Mind Ripper can be laughable, with his bulbous head, but the phallic appendage that protrudes from his mouth, all wet and slimy, is pretty gnarly.
Nevertheless, Mind Ripper isn’t all roses and slimy appendages. No, it’s got some cringe-worthy acting, a plot that doesn’t bother to explain much, a leaking radioactive can that doesn’t come into play, and an ending that has not one, not two, not three, but four jumpscare conclusions. However, I can’t help appreciate what they were going for, especially considering the history behind the film and the budget provided. Sure, it’s a cheesy 90s horror flick starring a Lance Henrikson who wishes he was someplace else, but the flick offers enough fun to make any hardened horror fan smile.
88 Films have released a damn solid Blu-ray (Note: Disc is Region B locked), with a fancy limited slipcover, and a reversible sleeve. Also provided is an enjoyable, and informative, essay on the flick by Callum Waddell. The man does make a pretty good argument for justifying this as being called The Hills Have Eyes III (it was released under that name in some countries.)
The video transfer for Mind Ripper is a new HD transfer from the original negative. As I said the film does have that 90s look, but the HD transfer is solid all around. There are a few scenes where the clarity isn’t quite there, but overall it’s fantastic looking. The same goes for the audio, with a DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 track, that is both loud and clear. English subtitles have been provided.
As for special features, we have a 41-minute interview with Jonathan Craven, who discusses getting the film made, working under his father, and the struggles of branching out from under his heavy shadow. He provides plenty of funny stories about the filming locations and the local “talent.” All and all, it’s an excellent interview. Rounding the features out is a trailer that announces that the film is from the Wes Craven, who brought you Wes Craven’s Nightmare. Yeah, not sure what they mean by that.
If you like low budget, 90s horror, you’re going to get a kick out of this cheesy horror flick. 88 Films have released a Blu-ray that deserves to be displayed proudly on your horror shelf.