By Nick Durham
It’s been a while since I’d seen The Lawnmower Man, actually it’s been quite a long time. So long in fact that I remember more of the video game (yes there was a video game tie-in to the film) than I do the actual film. In fact, I remember the promotional material for the film more than I do the actual movie itself. I distinctly remember trailers and TV spots that had a tagline that was something similar to “from the mind of Stephen King” or something to that effect. Well, turns out there was a short story from King called The Lawnmower Man, but that’s pretty much where the similarities between prose and film come to an end. In fact, King even sued New Line Cinema over attaching his name to the movie because he knew this had practically absolutely nothing to do with his short story, and actually went back and forth with the studio in court over it before they finally removed his name. Off-screen drama aside, the film has made it’s Blu-ray debut (here in the States anyway) thanks to Scream Factory, so let’s dive on in.
Released in 1992, The Lawnmower Man revolves around scientist Dr. Angelo (Pierce Brosnan) who uses virtual reality to increase the intelligence of chimpanzees. The company Angelo works for (which is actually funded by “The Shop”, which Stephen King lovers will instantly recognize) seeks to use his VR work for military purposes, whereas Angelo wants to help the world. Angelo manages to convince simpleton greens keeper Jobe (Jeff Fahey) to be his human subject in an effort to increase his intelligence, and things appear to be going well…but of course that doesn’t last long. Soon enough, Jobe has gained all kinds of crazy abilities from reading minds to manipulating objects, and things escalate from there, leading to a virtual reality showdown between Jobe and Angelo courtesy of early 90s CG effects which were weird looking then, and are now just flat out hilarious to look at.
While The Lawnmower Man means well in the department of wanting to deliver some genuine thrills, the whole film feels haphazardly slapped together. Not to mention the fact that this is another case of smart people (namely Angelo) doing pretty damn stupid things and being surprised at the end results of which. Despite all that though, 25 years later the film is still somewhat fun, even in spite of itself. Brosnan and Fahey are actually pretty good, and horror stalwarts Geoffrey Lewis and Near Dark hottie Jenny Wright are here in supporting roles as well.
Scream Factory’s Blu-ray release of The Lawnmower Man is packed to the brim with extras, including two versions of the film: the theatrical cut, and the 140 plus minute director’s cut; both of which have been remastered in 4K. There’s a commentary track on both cuts featuring director Brett Leonard, as well as new interviews featuring Leonard, Jeff Fahey, and more of the film’s crew. There’s a bunch of deleted scenes, trailers, TV spots, conceptual sketches and artwork, and more besides as well. Scream Factory really poured a lot into this release, which is a very good thing for fans of this flick. For those of you that have never enjoyed this film though, there’s nothing here that’s going to win you over.
All in all, Scream Factory’s release of The Lawnmower Man is a must own for fans of the film to say it lightly. As for the quality of the film itself, that’s pretty debatable. I know it’s a piece of shit and I enjoy it regardless, and chances are I’m not the only one that feels that way. If you’ve never seen it before, check it out for some 90s cheese and marvel at Pierce Brosnan’s earing if nothing else.