Plot: Hank (Ted Raimi) hasn’t left his apartment in over six months, a situation that has raised the suspicions of his neighbors and of course, has him on edge, since he feels trapped inside his own home. The self imprisonment is thanks to some horrific delusions that plague Hank, from spiders that crawl all over his brain to doctors that want to perform strange procedures to unsolicited rap performances. But he is trying to fight back against these hallucinations and has started to wrap his apartment in tin foil, with the hope this will offer him some protection. He also seeks out much needed human contact via a phone sex service, but when he dials the wrong number before one session, he talks to Nancy (Deborah Foreman), a woman with troubles of her own. He invites her to his apartment and while the two strike up a quick friendship, Hank’s delusions kick in and he scares her off. But now that he has fallen in love, can Hank overcome his fear of the outside or will he lose Nancy forever?
Entertainment Value: As the title suggests, Lunatics: A Love Story is indeed a love story that involves some lunatics and is one of the stranger tales of romances out there. I mean, not many love stories involve phone sex, brain spiders, and psychotic delusions, all blended into an oddball comedic formula. The narrative is of course quirky, putting some bizarre twists on the usual romantic elements, sometimes trying a little too hard to be off the wall. I think most of the weirder touches work well, but some of the odd stuff does come off as forced, though with such an emphasis on wackiness, even the forced ingredients aren’t much of a reach. In other words, you can tell the filmmakers wanted to craft a movie aimed at cult audiences, so they pushed a little hard at times, but overall, it captures the right atmosphere. I love the special effects especially, as they might be low rent, but they’re super fun and to me, fit in perfectly, given the off kilter vibes of the rest of the movie. I also like that despite being an over the top comedy, the paranoia and claustrophobia of Hank’s mind are so well conveyed, as a lot of movies would gloss over those atmospheric elements. So if you like offbeat comedies with low budgets but high ambitions, give Lunatics: A Love Story a look.
The lead role here is in the capable hands of Ted Raimi, who is often found in smaller, supporting characters, but he is also a competent lead and he is a good choice for this Hank’s kind of off the wall persona. I think he is able to bring a lot to the role, as he plays the mental stress of Hank’s condition well, but also the optimism of breaking the hold it has over his mind. So despite being an often silly comedy, Raimi gets some skilled acting in, not just laughs. As he has shown in many other roles, he can also convey the kind of manic, wild humor the role needs and he is great at being unstable, but likable, which is important to Hank’s character. Deborah Foreman is fun to watch as always, with her usual level of charm and screen presence on showcase. I don’t know that I found the chemistry between she and Raimi to be effective, but this is such an odd romance, that never really dampened the experience. The cast also includes Bruce Campbell, George Aguilar, and Brian McCree.
The Disc: Umbrella Entertainment’s DVD release of Lunatics: A Love Story looks more than watchable, but does leave a lot of room for improvement. A new master or high definition treatment would be most welcome, but for a DVD release of an older master, this looks reasonable. The image has solid sharpness and bright colors, but shows some signs of age and softness. So for what it is, this disc looks good, but of course, we’d love a brand new scan to bask in. No extras.