This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is 31-days-of-halloween-2020.jpg

Since the entirety of October is officially Halloween this year (shut up, you!), we at Psycho Drive-In have decided to attempt to fill the month with thirty-one recommendations for horror-related movies, comics, books, TV shows, toys, games, and everything in-between. It’s gonna be a grab-bag of goodies we feel you should be exposed to, whether you like it or not! But don’t expect your standard suggestions for Halloween fun, we’re digging into some stuff that we love in the hopes that you might make this October a little bit weirder than usual.

Weirder in a good way. Not like what’s going on outside in the hellscape of 2020.

Man vs. technology or man’s fear of technology has been a theme of the horror genre dating back to Mary Shelley’s novel Frankenstein. After over 200 hundred years and countless films, plays, cartoons, and television shows based on the novel, we still marvel at the many innovations and inventions that that are introduced daily.  Our literature and films indicate that hidden behind the gasps of awe and wonder, many of us cringe and cower at the implications that science and technology may one day surpass humans…or has it already?

As a Xennial, I remember a world in which I carried 50 cents in my car at all times just in case I needed to use a payphone. I now carry a small computer with me in my pocket and can be called, messaged, or texted at all times.  I also have access to almost any information I may need to settle Trivial Pursuit arguments or find a location if I am lost. I can remember living in a world before everything and everyone went digital 24/7.  In some ways, the advances in technology are mind blowing, but, at the same time, I am disappointed that I do not have a jetpack. Television and film from the 1980s and 1990s dramatically impacted my expectations of future technology.  Like everyone else, I felt that we were on the cusp of a new technological age.  But how much trust and power given to technology is just too much?

The video arcade boom of the late 1970s and the transition to the home game console of the early 1980s led to the movies WarGames (1983) and Nightmares (1983) the first action and horror movies respectively centered around video games.  Video games have become such a staple of our culture, that they are have also bled over to an interesting category of horror and sci-fi films.

The Lawnmower Man (1992) is a strong early entry to “the video game gone evil’ horror subgenre.  Yes, it shares its name with a Stephen King short story that appeared in his collection Night Shift (1978), but the relationship ends at the title and a few lines of shared dialogue.

Early copies and trailers of the film proclaimed it as “Stephen King’s The Lawnmower Man,” but King later sued to have his name removed.  New Line Cinema had obtained the film rights to the original King short story and an unrelated script titled Cyber God.  “The Lawnmower Man” was a much more subtle title and had the Stephen King name value.  Eventually, King won, his name was removed, he got even more money, and the title stayed.  Cyber God, although appropriate, gives off more of a B-movie vibe while The Lawnmower Man is more ominous.  I also find interesting that the title of the movie brings the focus on a person while the plot centralizes on Virtual Reality and the power of computers.  The title without a reference to computers goes against what we were expecting.

The Lawnmower Man (1992) had cutting edge effects for its time.  They were done by Angel Studios Inc. which eventually became Rockstar San Diego, Inc. and is responsible for games Red Dead Redemption (2010), Grand Theft Auto V (2013), and Red Dead Redemption 2 (2018). The effects are laughable by today’s standards but are not a distraction.  When watching the movie, the effects just seem dated along with the clothing and hairstyles, but do not take away from the acting and the story.

Dr. Angelo (Pierce Brosnan) works for a government agency and has been using Virtual Reality and some type of injections to increase the intelligence of monkeys.  When one of the monkeys escapes, Angelo is forced into a hiatus.  He is obsessed with his work and continues his work in the laboratory he has made in his basement.  He decides to expand his experiments to human trials and applies them to Jobe (Jeff Fahey), a childlike local man who is intellectually impaired and mows lawns.

Jobe becomes so intelligent, he surpasses Angelo and evolves into a new stage of human being that has merged with technology.  He has also become mad with power and is out of control.

The Lawnmower Man (1992) is an enjoyable modern take on ideas presented in the novel Frankenstein), but it also seems like a bit of a ripoff of Daniel Keyes’ 1966 novel Flowers for Algernon. Everything aside, it entertains as well as makes the viewer think differently the next time they logon to the Internet or asks Alexa to play music. 

(Visited 229 times, 1 visits today)