Brainblast (1987)

Look, there is a basic rule every filmmaker trying to make a drug culture film should follow:

Don’t make it while you are high.

There are a lot of things — an incredible, almost unimaginable number of things — which may seem like a great idea when you are stoned that just don’t work once reality sets in again.

Which pretty much describes this odd little Australian film .

Nor is it easy to describe Brainblast in any meaningful way, as the main elements of the plot really don’t become clear until we are most of the way through the movie.

Although, to be fair, the normal concerns over spoilers hardly seem to apply when knowing what’s going on before you watch this one may be your only hope of making any sense of it at all.

So we have people dying from overdoses of a cheap super heroin called “intensity,” which is injected straight into the jugular, using a unique gimmick called a “stinger.”  However, we don’t have much time to worry about this because of all the kids dancing to punk rock bands, the gang of murderous punk drug dealers, an old hippie, a guy wearing a trash can, and a pair of brain researchers trying to develop something which we only get hints about for most of the film.  This is all set against the background of the satiric news updates on the spread of Intensity broadcast by Bleeding Eye News’ roving reporter, Barely Credible (who is played by the director himself, Andy Neyl).

Ultimately, we do learn that the two young girl scientists secret project is a new “drug:” a videotaped series of images which makes you high by stimulating the right parts of your brain.  Best of all, not only would it be cheap, but it would also be safe.  There would be no danger of overdose.

When the drug gang learns what the girls have, they immediately pursue them and kidnap one of their friends.

And, of course, the CIA is after the tape as well, for all the usual nefarious reasons.

But by that point, which we’d normally expect to reach within the first twenty minutes or so of a film this short, we’re most of the way through and we get bombarded with chases, fights, more songs and a lot of psychedelic visuals (not to mention a bit of gore).

Oh, and overdosing on video drugs does prove to have a very deadly side effect or two (Zik Zak! Zik Zak!).

I don’t know.  This is a strange and weird mess, with a few good ideas, some mostly funny comedy and plenty of enthusiasm — but far too many drugs.  It has a very homemade feel to it, with its amateurish acting and simple psychedelic video effects (although their big gory moment is surprisingly well done).  I suppose if you were part of the Sydney Punk scene of the Eighties you might think this was a landmark film.

Even with the scenes of the girl kissing the guy in the Halloween frog costume.

But for the rest of us?  It’s a curiosity  While sporadically interesting, it is too long (even at an hour and a quarter), too slow, too meandering…

You know…like they were doing too many drugs?…



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