Sunday, December 18, 2011

Ain't That a Psychic in the Head!

Psychic Experiment  (Lionsgate, 2011)

Before the Camera:

Adrienne King  (Friday the 13th)
Reggie Bannister  (Phantasm)
Glenn Morshower  (Dead and Buried)
Debbie Rochon  (Bikini Bloodbath Christmas)
Kathy Lamkin  (Texas Chainsaw Massacre '03)
Denton Blane Everett  (TV's Lone Star)
Eryn Brooke  (Imago)
Natali Jones  (Zombie Campout)
Brad Maule  (TV's General Hospital)
Brandi Price  (Grim)
Melanie Donihoo  (Possum Walk)
Krystn Caldwell  (Jacob)
James LaMarr  (Begging Your Pardon)
Peyton Wetzel  (Witchcraft 13: Blood of the Chosen)
Mel House (the movie's director, pulling a Hitchcock!)
Katie Featherston  (Paranormal Activity)

Behind the Camera:

Directed by Mel House

Produced by Mel House and James LaMarr

Written by Mel House

I first became aware of this movie when I was compiling a special Maniacal Movie Poster Monday theme post featuring Adrienne King movies to tease my Friday the 13th Coast to Coast Toast Post (which, by the way, is a lot of fun to type) and I added the poster for the movie - then called Walking Distance - to the posters for Friday the 13th Parts 1 and 2. I then mentioned it when Adrienne called me for my winning photo in Crystal Lake Wines' contest, and she told me it wasn't out yet, but had played a few film festivals and was scheduled for video release under the new title Psychic Experiment in December. It's good to know the right people, knowhutImean?
     The story kicks off with newspaper clippings over the opening credits. I was trying to keep an eyeball on them and on the cast and crew credits, so I couldn't read much past the headlines, especially since they clippings are burning as we see them. So, between the flames and the glimpses of the articles we get the gist that a small city somewhere is experiencing a strange variety of weird and unusual occurrences and disappearances and deaths. Into this freaky situation comes young Doctor Cole Gray (Everett), starting work with Dr. Louise Strack (King), the head of a scientific research firm right smack in the middle of the plagued city. Hmmm, do you think the scientists at the research joint might have something to do with the weird things going on?

Cole is advised working for this lady will bring him to Strack and ruin...
Well, you're not the only one, as several people, including investigative TV reporters, FBI agents, and crusading college students are teaming up in various configurations and coming at the place from all angles, trying to figure out just what's going on. And they all discover that a lot of the events are occurring around one man: Joseph Webber (Bannister); a convicted child molester trying to get back to a normal life, but now plagued with visions even worse than those his bad impulses used to bring on. As the mysteries deepen for the characters, things take a turn for the icky as horrific burned apparitions - still on fire mind you - begin appearing out of gruesome bloody organic bags that pop up right out of walls near several unfortunate characters. These creatures do all kinds of terrible things to their victims, from a simple torching using their own burning limbs to stripping faces off, and even melting people into globs on the ground! At first these seem to only be visions the victims are having, until other characters begin seeing the beasties and fighting them. It becomes obvious - from the title if nothing else - that someone is using this burg as a giant petri dish for a horrific experiment. Paging Dr. Strack...

Reggie Bannister really hated the wardrobe socks he was provided.

So, almost thirty years after she last appeared on camera playing a fictional character, Adrienne King returns to movies for this interesting low budget science fiction horror flick., having been enticed by writer/director Mel House's script. And it is wonderful to see her again - with her characterization of the coldly clinical Louise Strack a highlight of the movie. It's also a lot of fun to see horror luminaries Bannister, Lamkin, Rochon, and Featherston stopping by - as well as old pro Morshower. Some are in the movie more than others - Featherston, in particular, is really just a cameo - but it's still cool to see everybody. The rest of the cast are less seasoned, shall we say, but everybody works hard to keep the movie on track. There are some great squishy moments with lots of blood and gore, and a smidge of nudity too, all pluses. The effects are a combination of well done physical prosthetics with some CGI; which works fairly well. Of course, no CGI is perfect - it has a built-in visual look that often calls attention to itself; but then so does stop motion animation, which I love, so I'll cut the computer effects some slack. House has some big ideas to show here, and he's not daunted by a medium low budget, with effects work happening in almost every scene and some fairly big setpieces involving burning buildings and city streets under siege as scads of extras try to evacuate. And I say more power to him. Too many filmmakers with the same resources would have either given us a by-the-numbers slasher movie - you know, the kind with too much talking and too little killing - or a standard issue CGI monster movie like MegaDinoOstrich. These filmmakers are trying something a little different; and if they are somewhat hampered by budgetary limitations, or an occasional CGI effect that is a little shaky; or a performance here or there that is a little more enthusiastic than polished - this is still well worth a look. I also appreciated the movie's serious tone - another thing that happens too often in movies on the lower end of the budgetary scale - far too much ironic and snarky humor. Psychic Experiment is a dark movie, and it stays consistent in tone; there are no winks to the audience, which is just how this story should be told. I did find myself having a chuckle at one major character's eventual fate, but I won't take up "space" spoiling it here - and it's not played for laughs, it was just so unexpected and cool that I laughed in response. On the negative side, this is a very densely plotted movie, and there were times I lost track of who was working for who, and there are a lot of characters to keep up with - but as the burning beasties reduce the cast list this problem eases, and the movie never derails despite carrying a heavy plot load.
    If you enjoy movies where reality is coming unravelled, and nightmarish imagery threatens to rule the day, you'll probably enjoy this movie. All others need not apply.

Let's Get Out of Here ?

I'm not entirely sure, but I think I might have heard The Line during one of the crowd evacuation scenes. More research is required.

Eye Candy ?

Because there were several attractive ladies in the movie, and because it is the Christmas season, I'm throwing membership out to a gaggle of the female cast members! Welcome to the list, ladies!

Katie Featherston - already a member,
but any excuse to run a picture...yowza!

Melanie Donihoo

Debbie Rochon - MILFeriffic!

Eryn Brooke

Natali Jones

And of course horror hottie
Adrienne King!

Buddha Man's Capsule Review

Buddha Man says "Psychic Experiment certainly has
ESP - Entertainment Solidly Provided."

Thanks very much Mr. BM, and until next post, you Can Poke Me With A Fork, Cause I Am Outta Here!


  1. Hey, this sounds pretty awesome - and the cast is just ace: Reggie Bannister, Adrienne King, Shannon Lark... hell yeah!!

  2. MM - yeah, I enjoyed it for sure - I'll be interested to see what you have to say if you review it...

  3. Katie Featherston, WTF? LOL Well, I think of Steven Tyler as eye candy so I guess anyone can qualify. IMO Paranormal Activity is a comedy NOT horror--I seriously cannot believe you listed Katie as a horror luminary, you an Adrienne King fan. *shakes head sadly* ;)

    This sounds like it's good for a few chuckles and creeps as I like Adrienne and Roger.

  4. MB - you get cranky around Christmas! ;)