Brainlock (1993) – By Duane L. Martin

 This movie could have just as easily been called Brainfart since the people who lose their memory in it eventually get it back after a day or two, so it’s kinda more like a fart than a permanent lock. But anyway… Why did they lose their memory in the first place? Ah, therein lies the story. Actually, scratch that. The memory loss thing is only a small part of it and only happens to three people in the movie, so I guess that therein doesn’t lie the story. But at least it’s a part of it.

So what’s it all actually about? Well, there’s this guy. That’s not unusual since most movies have a guy in them somewhere. Usually if there’s not a guy then it’s a movie about women in prison abusing each other, but that’s a whole different kind of movie. Anyway, there’s this guy who’s a land developer in Florida, and he has two moronic sons. One’s a cowboy thug type and the other is a doofy nerd of questionable sexuality. The land developer teams up with a corrupt congressman to create a new nuclear power plant near the town. The plot goes deeper however.

See, there’s a liberal girl who runs a liberal newspaper in town and she’s been all over this guy like stink on…well whatever stink sticks to. Anyway, her father, who used to run the paper, was doing up a big expose on the guy before he had an "accident" and ended up dead. Now she’s running the paper and trying to expose the crooked developer and the corrupt politician on her own. What she doesn’t realize is that the developer has his hands in other dirty dealings as well. He’s hired two scientists to create this formula that affects the DNA of plant life and causes it to "forget" how to grow. He wants to spray the orange groves all around the area with it so he can buy the land out cheap and develop it for a major profit. The formula however has one other effect that they didn’t anticipate. When someone’s sprayed with it, they lose their memory for a couple of days.

I don’t want to go through the whole story, but basically the corrupt congressman gets sprayed with the stuff, turns into what amounts to a dorky and awkward adolescent kid with amnesia, and winds up being a tag along with the reporter as she works to expose the evil developer for what he really is.

Frank Delle is a name that may sound familiar to you. Not too long ago I reviewed his film Beer Drinkers in Space and the awesome documentary he made about the making of it called Keep Drinking Men!, and I did an interview with him here in the magazine the following month. This particular film was made nearly half way between those other two and was basically made using the video technology that was available at the time. Here in Frank’s own words is how it was created…

"I wrote, shot, directed, cast, edited, lit, and did craft services for the whole shootin’ match! A friend of mine, Steve Wooldridge, held the boom mic and did script continuity. We shot it on 3’4" U-Matic SP video with a 3-tube Hitachi broadcast camera. I edited it to Beta SP on a CMX A/B roll linear edit system. I routed the video through a Grass Valley DVE and I created a slight strobe effect to give it a film look. I shot it with a Black Pro Mist 1/4 filter to soften the video. Keep in mind, this was when computer editing was in its infancy, so editing to tape you had to keep in mind generations, so you had the best quality. So I edited the movie in order, from the opening credits to the first scene, then to the second scene, and so on. I had to make sure the scene was exactly how I wanted it before I moved on to the next scene, because if I went back to make changes to a scene, it would affect everything that followed. Quite possibly, making me re-edit everything past the edit I’d just made. So, it took a little while to cut the scene and make sure it was right, before moving on. And with linear editing, you only had two audio tracks. So a lot of the time I used audio recording techniques, where I would bounce two tracks down to one on another tape deck, add a second track, then bounce all three back to a single track on the master, leaving me a single open track. The movie is in mono, but has dialogue, sound effects, music, and wild audio all mixed in. It was trial by fire, but a great learning experience. A lot of work, but I’m happy with the results."

The DVD of this film is of rather poor quality on a visual level. It looks over compressed and you can tell that it was shot on video using 1993 equipment. Still, it’s not horrible and certainly not unwatchable.

As far as the quality of production is concerned, it’s actually quite good. The acting by almost everyone in the film was above par, the editing was smooth and coherent, the sound was recorded at good levels and the camera shots were all well set up and nicely done. One thing I especially want to mention about the film that impressed me is the music. It was high quality real movie music, and I asked Frank where he got it. He said that it was music they had in the music library at work. The funny thing is, the music all fits so well with each scene it’s used in, you’d never think it wasn’t actually scored specifically for this film. It really added a lot to the overall professionalism of the production.

When it comes to the story, it was actually quite a fun plot with goofy characters and an enjoyable progression of the storyline. While the congressman became annoying at times after he was shot in the face with the chemical and lost his memory, he also had moments where he was quite funny. The questionable sexuality of one of the developer’s sons was quite funny as well because he kept going on about Barbie Dolls and such and it was really irritating his brother.

Most of the humor in the film worked quite well, though I think if the acting had been a bit better and come off as less rehearsed and "read" in certain points, some of the humor could have worked a little better. This is true also for some of the slapstick moments in the film. Still, all in all it was a fun little ride and I definitely had a good time watching it.

I got to meet Frank Delle and his awesome wife Laurie at the It Came From Lake Michigan film festival at the end of October. That was a great experience for me as I virtually never get to meet any of the great people I have contact with through the magazine. I’m happy to say that the because of the festival and how well his documentary Keep Drinking Men! has been received, he’s now got the itch to get back to film making and he’s currently working on a new script that’s sure to be a blast. After having fun with his two other films and having been totally impressed by his documentary, I can’t wait to see what he does with this new film once it’s completed.