Forgotten Film Synopses: Lunatics: A Love Story

This blog contains a film SYNOPSIS -  spoilers and plot points are revealed throughout. Where personal reservations on film details are concerned, you peruse at your own discretion.

Recently the unbelievably awesome FrogsLady informed me my favorite movie streaming site had new links to a film I hadn't seen since the VHS days, but was adamantly searching for again - Lunatics: A Love Story.


After weeks of periodic searches everywhere from OVguide to Google, the site had come through on my request and added 3 new links, which Froggy had brought to my attention. Although obviously ripped from VHS itself, I didn't mind it on Megavideo, since the less-than-perfect quality is a small price to pay for viewing this obscure but cult favorite film once again.

Definitely something a few of you can literally relate to, LALS is one of those films anyone enjoying a trippy ambiance, unorthodox relationships and romances, the breaking down of personal barriers, or exploration into the ills of the mind simply can't pass up. Despite its seemingly dated FX and 20-year-gap, the film remains unsurpassed in its realms of contrasting nightmarish climate between psychological play and real life, as well as clinical exactitude, wrapped up in a package of dark humor and adventure.

Hank (Ted Raimi) is a reclusive poet confined to his decrepit LosAngeles apartment. The choice to never leave even for his daily mail, or to coat the walls in aluminum foil, aren't exactly his, though. Hank happens to suffer from the most classic form of paranoid schizophrenia with delusional tendencies, which have plagued him severely, particularly in the past 6 months.

No time is wasted in revealing poor Hank's predicament, as the film jumps right into the viewer getting a twisted taste of his psychiatric nature. Alone at night, Hank will hallucinate on deadly spiders living within his brain; their breaking out of the tissue giving credence to the notion something isn't right and there seems to be very little he can do to help it.

But even more disturbing is the mad doctor who awaits outside the door, ready to perform impromptu surgery on Hank should he try to get away. If left unchallenged too long, the Doc will crash through the walls, bringing his staff along with him to help, setting off a literal battle of strength and wills between a gloved hand aiming a surgical saw and Hank's desire to live.

Distraction is a tactic which holds no solace in many cases, either. Trying to find some tunes on the radio is a hell in itself.

On top of that, with family living States away, Hank's only means of association with the outside world involves random calls to newspaper Escort Service ads or the billboard chat-line advertisement across the street. This hardly helps him, though, as telephone operators and voice recordings tend to frequently ridicule Hank, claiming he's dialed straight 6's or will purposely misdirect his calls. Alas, Hank is determined to keep trying to obtain some form of companionship, even after the sexy billboard model comes to life only to leave him in the same sick fashion.

It's through one of these attempts that one fateful evening, he gets a hold of Nancy (Deborah Foreman), a down-and-out woman new to the L.A. area and in severe trouble.

Nancy had up and walked out on her conservative family to take off with Ray (Bruce Campbell) and begin what she thought would be a new and exciting life out west in the big city. Yet ending up at a seedy motel before having the last of her money stolen by the two-timing asshole wasn't quite what she expected.

         Indie film legend Bruce Campbell is multi-cast as Ray, the Doctor, and Edgar Allen Poe

Cast out of the building and broke, Nancy carries her little potted plant through the streets of L.A., taking a wrong turn which lands her in the middle of a street gang's territory. After grabbing the leader's gun and using it, Nancy runs off to the bus terminal to hide out in a phone booth, where she decides to pay this weird guy on the line a visit.


Making it to Hank's apartment was a creepy endeavor, but even more creepy is Nancy's discovery that there's more to Hank than a penchant for poetry, an ear to lend, and a seemingly kind demeanor. Taken aback by his apartment's state alone, it isn't long before Nancy witnesses one of his physical bouts with the unseen PhD assailant.

                                   "Have you ever thought about committing suicide?"
                                                  "What put you in the mental hospital?"
                                                                "I tried to kill myself."

Nearly shooting Hank, she decides it best if she bolts from his apartment, but almost immediately Nancy is spotted by the same goons who've been hunting her all night. Knowing the story and wanting nothing but his new-found love interest's safety, Hank finds it's now or never.

Resolving to face his demons once and for all, he suits up, arms up, and prepares for a series of showdowns which culminate in his facing the ultimate nightmare: the massive killer Spider Queen!


In the meantime, alone and scared, Nancy dips in and out of alleyways and dumpsters to elude her gang of enemies. Pretty soon, the weight of the night's events take their final toll on her, and she resolves herself to the notion it may be a better option to make use of the gun she'd stolen from the head honcho - on herself.


All is not lost, though, for at just the right moment, in pure fairy tale fashion, our hero Hank emerges suddenly from the mist, to direct Nancy to "shoot down" the demon Spider Queen, break his bat in half over the gang leader's back, and knock out the returning Ray with its flying splintery remnants in one fell swoop.

With his demons finally destroyed, he urges Nancy to live with him no matter what her hangups and reservations. With her realization finally giving her a new and extraordinary lease on life, the couple walk off into the dawn, where for the first time in years, both are able to live a normal and joyous life, even attending Hank's brother's wedding many miles away - and as Nancy's once sad little potted plant shows, true love and kinship can never die.


film (c) 1991 Renaissance Pictures
Uploaded 08/05/2011
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