Written by / 5/08/2017 / No comments / , , , , , ,

RUMMAGING THROUGH THE LOST CULT HORROR FLICK 'PIN'

Hereby one of our favorite horror starlets Cynthia Preston YEAR: 1988
Adding a layer to the otherwise cliché twisted persona so he's not just another young tortured soul...
The Canadian horror flick PIN came out a year after THE STEPFATHER; that movie starring and this one featuring Terry O'Quinn — here he's a strict father who, a doctor by trade, uses a medical dummy... wherein all veins and innards are visible... to speak to his children. Although very different, and only having Canada in common, both THE STEPFATHER and PIN share the same visual aesthetic and budget, but PIN is more of a PSYCHO clone, albeit a unique and extremely original one, borrowing from the iconic Hitchcock thriller right down to the image of a static and spooky human figure/silhouette staring out the upstairs window (or a SENTINEL, perhaps). There's one scary house in every neighborhood and this is it... Peaking the curiosity of the same neighborhood kids that double as hardcore bullies at school, targeting the doc's passive son, Leon, played by David Hewlett once he's of age, in high school, after what seems like a backstory but is really Act One of the standard Three...

PINScore: ***1/2
As for the plot, PIN is the only solace in the poor kid's life, and the title, on the poster, DVD, VHS and even the opening credit itself ends with a three-period ellipsis as the rest of the word is covered up — that being the medical dummy's full name, based on the legendary children's story puppet who turns into a jackass when he parties and can't tell a lie without it showing. So Pin's first master, controlled by father doing his best Edgar Bergen/Charlie McCarthy imitation, throws his voice while teaching both shy son and curious, confident daughter about everything ranging from the the birds and the bees to your basic household chores...

PIN the dummy before & after: Going from Peter Weller-esque to Preppy
What seems like a short story in itself when as the kids are young has a beginning, middle and.. Skip to high school, and Leon needs the doll to continue his education — terrified and annoyed by the opposite sex, he begs that PIN be allowed to be moved from dad's office to their home. The most important death of this body count horror allows for Leon to be free. So PIN, his sister, and for a little while, a bickering aunt live at the house...

Looks like it comes from KISS OF DEATH
The suspense mounts whenever someone wants to change Leon's life... or those who point out he doesn't have a life. Writer/Director Sandor Stern uses nightmare darkness and spooky shadows within the house and really puts you there with each victim, all targets for different reasons, and horror film buffs, within each of our subconscious expectations, often root for whoever the antagonist is since that's what the movie's about, and the party must go on, especially in this case, given Leon's sour childhood and Hewlett's smooth, slowburn performance: The acting and direction are combined neatly, adding a layer to the otherwise cliché twisted persona so he's not just another young tortured soul..... And yet it's really just a partial performance since his alter ego finishes the job (think Norman Bate's with mother's wig)... He's out to kill anyone, and that's where little sister, now grown into a promiscuous and downright gorgeous teenager, comes in as a handy buried lead/ingenue who was there all along, but at the 11th hour becomes extremely important...

More Cynthia Preston
While this isn't one of those TEXAS CHAINSAW, FRIDAY THE 13TH or HALLOWEEN style slasher flicks with the female sole survivor as part of the built-in template, leading to a final chase between the hunter and the prey, Cyndy Preston is the one person we're meant to care about, and  not because she's innocent and chaste, as is usual within the usual "horror movie rules." Her sexual prowess  got her in a jam, making her brother more protective and determined to let PIN rule her life as well. Meanwhile, her new boyfriend, introduced at the crest of Act Two, becomes another of Leon's targets, and then some, providing the audience suspense as the film nears its end. The tension throughout is aided by the synthesizer soundtrack, although higher in pitch and late-80's glossy compared to the man who helped (along with Tangerine Dream) invent that uncontrived, ominous, dark and moody horror score  John Carpenter.

Cameo of our friend, Helene Udy
A creative hybrid of sub-genres such as haunted house, psychotic teenager, and a dash of mad scientist, PIN works despite overlong scenes meant to build up the characters — already covered during the childhood sequences so at times the dialogue's like a broken record. Yet the biggest let-down is when PIN goes from the "naked" see-through bonafide medical dummy to donning clothes and a stupid blond wig, to look like his master, and so, this feature's creature isn't as frightening or eerie. But, all in all, for a horror movie night with your friends, gathered around the couch — while you might want to poke fun since that's what's expected, you might just find yourself getting into the killer's mind, and, last but not least, he's perfectly voiced by "That Actor Who Always Plays A Bad Guy," and is now the second-billed anti-hero in BETTER CALL SAUL — Jonathan Banks. Without being seen, he winds up stealing the show: sounding like a passive demon's inner-thoughts, and providing a creepy element that not even Norman Bates's mother couldn't pull off.
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