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What if you could record all your brain activity on tape for anyone in the world to experience? The same smells, tastes, even emotions just as you felt them. Sure you could experience things like skydiving without ever having to leave your couch. Or scale the Himalayans while riding the bus. But then there’s that stench filled cab ride you had last week where your friend threw up on your docker pants. Now a total stranger can enjoy that too. You could even eat a glazed donut burger and still technically be Vegan thus keeping your hipster street creed… because much like your hipster street cred, it’s all in your mind.
In 1983’s Brainstorm, Christopher Walken plays Dr. Michael Brace an eccentric scientist who hangs out with his Chain smoking lab partner Lillian (Louise Fletcher.) Most of their day is spent poking monkeys and wearing wired up space helmets while playing with robots. Normally this is where government grants go to die but one day they discover they can actually record a persons memories on laser tape. It’s the Facebook of the future.They decide to take the invention on the road and record everything they can find with a lab tech wearing a recording helmet. There’s racing cars, going down a waterside, having sex, trying out some equestrian (not necessarily in that order.) Things you could have never experienced yourself without the aide of “TECHONOLOGY!” Their boss loves the demo tape but then boots from the project so it can be packaged up and sold as a home console and to military contractors.
Michael with some free time on his hands uses the new invention for some couples therapy. His wife Karen, played by Natalie Woods is just about to sign the divorce papers until he makes a memory tape for her showing all the good times from their marriage. Scrapbookers eat your heart out. Meanwhile Lillian has a heart attack back at the lab but records her death for scientific study and likely some smut sections at a Thailandese video store. The tape is put under lock and key while the government also takes over the technology to use it for “peaceful military purpose.” Peaceful in that they’ll peacefully torture and brainwash any suspecting commies they can hook it up to. Michael’s son accidentally tries one of these brainwash tapes making him wacko so Michael goes on a crusade to destroy the project once and for all. His robot war knowledge comes in handy as he hacks into the lab computer causing the robots to go on a rampage smashing the brainstorm assembly line. He then gets access to his lab partners death tape so that he can experience some extreme chest pains and the ending to 2001: A space odyssey. While plugged into the death tape at a pay phone, his wife shows up, they hug and he mumbles something about the stars, the Wright Brothers and needing more cowbell. Wow, the hippies were out in full force on this one folks. Barry Goodall says get plugged in with Brainstorm so that you too can experience a couple hours of brainwashing torture. Let’s just hope that Apple or Google doesn’t make one of these things anytime soon.
Check out this trailer for “Brainstorm”