The Sender (1982)

A mysterious amnesiac tries to commit suicide in a spectacular – if not particularly effective – way.  When he’s taken to a mental hospital for treatment, his doctor starts experiencing a series of strange events which she soon suspects her John Doe #83 caused.

Telepathy keeps showing up in the movies for better or worse, and this is, on the whole, an interesting variation on the theme.  What is particularly striking here is that the Sender can’t control his gift, so it is deeply tied into his subconscious and his dreams.

This gives us a series of striking and often creepy displays of his strange powers, which build slowly to a stunning sequence when one of the doctors tries to “cure” him in a particularly nasty sort of way.

A lot of people will find this one a bit slow, particularly in the beginning, but if you let it, it does sort of get under your skin after a while.  Quentin Tarantino listed it as his favorite horror film of 1982 – but when you consider that the competition includes John Carpenter’s The Thing, Poltergeist, Tenebre and Creepshow, that probably says more about Quentin than about this film!

There is one idiot moment at the end so they can put in a spectacular explosion (turn off the gas!  Open the doors!  Break a few windows!  What’s so hard about that?).  You’d think by now someone in Hollywood would have figured out that the audience is smarter than that.

Nope.  They’re still doing it, last I checked.

There’s an interesting claim here that science has proven that there is a psychic link between mother and child that disappears after the first few years.  Well, not really:  parapsychologists have been studying the notion for years, but there really isn’t any solid evidence.  I suspect that this belief may be because mothers who breastfeed get very attuned to the physical needs of their children and these moments of communication may be the result of knowing the child’s rhythms, or recognizing small signals – like motions or small noises – but not  consciously noting them.

Oh, well. I guess we can forgive a little dubious science – and an idiot moment or two.  This is a creepy and often scary little film which has several pretty good scenes, a few surprises, and a fairly sympathetic “monster”.

You could do worse for a midnight movie.


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