Mind Ripper (1995)

Mind Ripper (1995)

The Government Created Him. Now They Must Destroy Him.

A team of scientists in a remote desert research facility find a dying man nearby and use him as the test subject for the new regenerative drug they’re designing for the military. But the experiment goes wrong and the man escapes, trapping the team inside the facility. Former head scientist Stockton, who quit after being unhappy with the uses that the drug was being marketed for, is called for to help out. He was about to set off on a camping holiday with his family and, not being informed of the magnitude of the situation, takes them with him. Soon they are trapped inside the facility too, pursued by a super-human being with a taste for human brains.


Originally penned as the second sequel to Wes Craven’s The Hills Have Eyes, for whatever reason that idea was scrapped and Mind Ripper then became a standalone feature film, with Craven’s son Jonathan co-writing the script and Craven himself taking up an executive producer credit. Whatever the original intention, the outcome is as throwaway as they come – an Alien wannabe which looks like a cheapo 80s B-movie masquerading in a 90s environment.

Comparisons to Alien are evident, lesser so The Thing. Either way, it’s clear that Mind Ripper is just a rip-off from far superior films. It’s a by-the-numbers routine which might work well on low budget but when it’s got big names attached to the production both in front of and behind the scenes, you expect a little better. Maybe if Wes Craven had taken the director’s chair, he might have been able to make something out of the very raw materials on offer. As a result, Joe Gayton’s direction is flat, lifeless and just devoid of any creativity or suspense. What should have been a decent location in the middle of the desert turns into yet another meandering mess of steel frames, corridors and dimly-lit rooms. It could have been set in outer space for all the film really cares about its setting.

Clearly when a film comes across as ‘no one really cared about it during its production’ then the audience is going to feel the same way. Heck, even Lance Henriksen said his bags were packed every day during filming so he could get out there as soon as it was wrapped up. No one cared so why should you? The film is so middling and tiresome that it’s just pointless to sit through. Characters are virtually non-existent, there’s no tension when they’re about to die and the deaths are kind of ‘meh.’ Even the finale is a mess as there are too many stop-start endings as if the director didn’t know when to call it quits. We get one really poor action set piece that you think will be the end but then another one comes along and then another one. You’re actually hoping for the film to end by this point to put you out of your misery.

Henriksen is the main star but as much as I like the guy in his roles, there’s no question that this has to be one of his worst. His character is pathetically written – I mean who in their right mind would let their kids venture into a top secret government facility, let alone allow them to explore and wander off on their own, especially when he knows that something is not quite right. His dialogue is terrible and his character gets out of far too many situations which would have spelt death for any of the other characters. There’s also a really icky sub-plot about how he’s bee a bad father and his rebellious son doesn’t get on with him.

Giovanni Ribisi makes his feature film debut here as the aforementioned son and, whilst he’s a solid addition to the cast, the role isn’t exactly something to get stuck into. It’s one-dimensional padding which serves little purpose to the overall narrative, simply add in a few unnecessary scenes of character conflict. To be fair, at least they get a sub-plot. Most of the other characters in the film don’t get anything even resembling a normal person. They’re simply one-dimensional walking ready meals, designed to purely walk around the set until the monster can get them. Speaking of which, Thor, the monster, looks and acts like a steroid-enhanced surfer for some bizarre reason. The only thing monstrous about him is the Alien-like tentacle that comes out of his mouth to suck brains. It’s a hardly a film to be reliant on special effects and the end result is somewhat cheesy when he does get hungry.


Mind Ripper? More like Money Ripper! Craven and Henriksen should be ashamed to add their names to the credits, especially Craven. It’s the kind of the film that pays their monthly bills whilst they’re waiting for better roles but we all know that they’re both more talented than this. The phrase ‘cash in’ comes to mind and both men have pimped their name out to a turkey of epic proportions here.





Post a comment