Ghost in the Machine

Director: Rachal Talalay

Reviewed by Paghat the Ratgirl

Rachel Talalay directed the likeable, feminist version of Mad Max (1979), namely, Tank Girl (1995). So I would've guessed she'd be okay at making horror films, too. But Ghost in the Machine (1993) pretty much sucks donkeyballs. I guess that's why her directorial career landed her a lot of episodic television work, not movies.

Ghost in the MachineOur key characters are a single mom (Karen Allen), her obnoxious thirteen year old son Josh (Wil Horneff), grandma (Jessica Walter), Axel the dog, & a blue-eyed psycho killer named Karl (Ted Marcoux) who gets killed in a funny car crash & whose spirit gets into mom's electronic address book.

When Karl dies, lamentably poor animation shows us his soul going into the light. But it's the light of the world wide web & electrical wiring, the address book being his central headquarters for no very sensible reason. From his new location he bakes one guy in a kitchen by "reprogramming from within" a microwave oven.

The main surprise here is in casting Karen Allen as the mother, Terry Monroe, as she's no teen babe as are usually presented fresh for the slashing. It's about the only thing that suggests a woman might've been directing, selecting a protagonist who is not just the standard-issue last-babe-standing.

Josh passes his time in a virtual reality game at an arcade, wherein kids are stalked by the killer from within the game. This provides the opportunity for still more of the worst animation ever, though incredibly enough, some of the live-action sequences are even more foolish than the animation.

When Josh figures out there's something in the system that's after his family, Axel the dog is already killed. Another guy in Terry's address book is nearly killed in a computerized crash test. The various set-ups for death are in the main badly staged & executed & contribute less to story than to just increasing the action content.

Carol (Shevonne Durkin) the babysitter is next on the "address book killer's" list. This provides the "cute teen babe" victim sequence which that Karen Allen couldn't fulfill. There's a big threat to the toddler, too. Threats against infants & puppies is pretty much what this turkey has to resort to.

Bram Walker (Chris Mulkey), computer hacker, is trying to find out who the killer is, assuming as he does that it's a fellow hacker rather than someone who actually lives inside the net. Bram serves as Terry's love interest, two of the unsexiest people imaginable, so yuk.

What we've just suffered through is a terrible combination of Lawnmower Man (1991), Pulse (1988), & Shocker (1989). For climax the killer manifests as crappy animation outside the computer so he can stalk Terry in the usual psycho killer movie manner. The particle excellerator schtick that puts an end to it all was even lamer than all the lame stuff that lead up to it.

copyright by Paghat the Ratgirl

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