The Austin Chronicle

Lunatics: A Love Story

Rated PG-13, 87 min. Directed by Josh Becker. Starring Theodore Raimi, Deborah Foreman, Bruce Campbell.

REVIEWED By Marjorie Baumgarten, Fri., May 29, 1992

Crazy love: Raimi style. Hank (played by Theodore Raimi, brother of legendary Sam Raimi -- director of the Evil Dead movies and Darkman and who co-executive produced Lunatics) hasn't left his apartment on Hope Street in six months. You see, there are these spiders in his brain and doctors who shoot x-rays and thrust hypodermics through his walls. That's why he's completely covered his apartment walls in aluminum foil. Hank's totally insane, no question of that. Still, he's an endearing sort of schlemiel, one who you can root for even though he's clearly doomed. Into his life comes Nancy (Foreman, the original Valley Girl), a bit discombobulated herself -- an Iowa girl left stranded and penniless in the big city by her cad boyfriend. She's ill-equipped to deal with the harsh realities of urban life and finds herself at the top of a vicious street gang's hit list. Turns out, Nancy's hiding in a phone booth just as Hank's phone call to a 900-PARTY line gets scrambled (Hank's telephone seems only to dial 666). Nancy's the first party girl who hasn't hung up on him outright. Moreover, she promises to come right over. But once there, even Nancy realizes that Hank's certifiable. Yet, they manage to connect and touch each other emotionally. Both fancy themselves as poets, still Hank's hallucinations and general weirdness give Nancy cause for flight, thus leaving Hank forlorn. His heartbreak is so extreme that it prompts him to venture from the apartment to regain his lost love. It's a classic fable, only with immense gobs of dementia tossed in. Armed with a baseball bat and wrapped in about a dozen rolls of aluminum foil, Hank emerges from his solitary confinement. Hallucinations threaten his path every step of the way. These interior visions of Hank's are the movie's most interesting aspect. For the most part, they're cheesy, low-budget effects yet they manage to be wonderfully creative, creepy and fun. What's lacking is any real punch to the story and though Raimi and Foreman are sweet and likeable as Hank and Nancy, their characters are never deeply involving. Director Becker began working in film with his junior high pals Sam Raimi (Becker did lighting and sound on Evil Dead) and Bruce Campbell (lead actor in Evil Dead and dual roles in Lunatics as both Nancy's cad boyfriend and a doctor behind Hank's apartment wall). Becker's first feature film is called Thou Shalt Not Kill... Except, which is billed as the story of the U.S. Marines versus the Manson family.

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