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Blu-ray Review

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Pulse (1988)


Starring: Cliff De Young, Roxanne Hart, Joey Lawrence and Matthew Lawrence
Distributor: Eureka Entertainment
RRP: £20.99


Certificate: 18
Release Date: 22 February 2021

Young David is staying with his dad Bill and his partner Ellen. It should be a time of bonding, but Bill is often at work or otherwise busy. Integrating with the local kids doesn’t exactly go to plan either, as only a younger boy wants to be friends. Left to his own devices for much of the time, David takes a keen interest it what happened in the house across the street. Everyone thinks that the owner went crazy and wrecked it, but Old Man Holger tells him that electricity is a living presence whose voice can only be silenced by getting rid of anything that can hear it. When a series of electrical ‘accidents’ occur in his dad’s house, he tries to warn them, but Bill just believes his son has caused the incidents himself for attention. But when Ellen is badly burned in the shower by a ‘faulty’ electric water heater and Bill is trapped in the cellar with water and electricity short-circuiting, even his father cannot deny the truth of the matter. With Bill and David attempting to save each other’s life, this life and death situation might prove to be the bonding they could never have imagined...

Pulse, from 1988, is one of a number of techno-horror movies which emerged in the 1980s – the most effective of which was, arguably, John Carpenter’s Christine, adapted from the Stephen King novel. However, whereas many of these films involve teenagers, this one takes the much more relatable route of family and the strained connection between a boy and his separated parents (although the mother is never seen). This fact makes the plot much stronger than it might otherwise have been. The acting performances are all pretty strong. The boy David is played by Joey Lawrence, and is pretty compelling. Bill is played by Cliff De Young, also known for his roles in the films Shock Treatment, and Flight of the Navigator. Roxanne Hart’s Ellen is a very convincing support role – aside from being pretty good-looking.

Although this film is innovative in its own way, the lack of a tangible physical force removes a good percentage of the fear factor. I’m not saying that if these events happened to you and I they wouldn’t be terrifying. It’s simply that everything happening with wires, circuitry and all functions controlled by them in the average family home is shown happening in extreme close-up. This is both fascinating and dull when the process is over-used. Nevertheless, there are some nice set pieces such as the aforementioned shower scene, the TV brainwashing and the garage scene. In the latter, David is trapped in the garage where the thing in the wires attempts to choke him with carbon monoxide fumes and smoke from a fire. Paul Golding’s film isn’t a revelation, but it passes an entertaining hour and a half. It also helps showcase techno-horror from the 1980s, in the same manner that Demon Seed from the 1970s represented the same sub-genre, with a technologically advanced new apartment beginning to control the life of its occupant.

As part of its Eureka Classics range, Eureka Entertainment has presented Pulse for the first time on Blu-ray. The first 2000 copies incorporate a Limited Edition Slipcase and Collector’s Booklet featuring a new essay by film scholar and author Craig Ian Mann. Special Features include a Brand New Commentary by author and film historian Amanda Reyes; and Tuning in to Tech Horror – video essay by writer and film historian Lee Gambin. This potted history would have been informative if not for the monosyllabic tones it is told in.


Ty Power

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