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The Sender
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The Sender More at IMDbPro »

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13 out of 16 people found the following review useful:

Truly underrated horror film.

Author: HumanoidOfFlesh from Chyby, Poland
10 September 2004

A suicidal mental patient(Zelijko Ivanek)turns his horrific nightmares into reality by choosing receivers for his demented thoughts from the local hospital.Psychiatrist(Kathryn Harrold)realizes the young man's power and tries to save him."The Sender" is a very creepy horror film that has slick production values.The acting is surprisingly good and the film perfectly mixes reality with unsettling hallucinations.There is only a little bit of blood,but the atmosphere of dread and fear is easy to feel.There are some wonderful moments of pure horror like the scene where an Etc machine is switched on and an entire operating room erupts in a slow-motion explosion.The film is relatively obscure,but if you get the chance watch it.8 out of 10.Highly recommended.

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12 out of 16 people found the following review useful:

This is an excellent sleeper hit!

Author: Andy Steinberg ( from South Hadley MA US
17 March 2003

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I think this movie got such a low overall rating because most people didn't understand it or appreciate it, perhaps it didn't strike so close to home as it did for me. The telepathic man who is either channeling his evil, crazy dead mother or creating her ghost through his own powers was the most haunting and chilling since Norman Bates in Psycho. The scenes in the mental hospital were incredibly accurate, having worked in one myself. The female doctor trying to help the telepath was very touching, and although I thought that the other doctors and cops would turn out to be two-dimensional villains I was pleasantly surprised when they turned out to be normal human beings with faults and compassion in the end. The times that the telepath projected his horrors onto others in self-defense was difficult viewing, disturbing yet necessary and very important. The scenes with lobotomy and ECT should remind all of us of the very real non-fiction horrors buried in American medical history, experts so sure of themselves that they self-justify doing terrible things to peoples' brains. I won't give away the ending but it was very ambigious and shocking.

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8 out of 10 people found the following review useful:

An excellent "lost" horror film

Author: preppy-3 from United States
24 May 2000

This film was released with an glut of really bad horror films in the early '80s and got lost in the shuffle. That's a shame--it's one of the best of its type. There's no masked killer chasing down brain dead teens. It's about a young man (Zeljko Ivanek) committed to an institution because he tried to commit suicide. He believes his dreams can kill. A kind psychiatrist (Kathryn Harrold) tries to help him. Then his creepy mother (Shirley Knight) shows up insisting he be put in her care--but she keeps disappearing.

There's very little violence or blood and guts but it's very scary and suspenseful. The ending is (now) old hat but was pretty original when this film was released. Any movie that can scare you silly with a shot of a middle-aged mother walking to her son (see the movie to find out why it's scary) is one hell of a horror movie in my book! Add to that a beautiful music score and excellent performances by Knight and Ivanek (who has gone on to be a top character actor). The only debit is Harrold who's pretty terrible. Still it's well worth seeing.

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6 out of 9 people found the following review useful:

* * *1/2 out of 4.

Author: Brandon L. Sites ( from Click on my name for over 500 horror movie reviews!
14 September 2002

A doctor (Kathryn Harroler) tries to find out why a telepathic young man (Zelijko Ivank) is unleashing his nightmares and visions into the minds of the staff and patients and causing them injury. She thinks his weird mother (Shirley Knight) my be part of the cause. Crisp, suspenseful thriller with a solid premise and good production values & performances. One of the best horror films from the 1980's.

Rated R; Violence.

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5 out of 8 people found the following review useful:

Why isn't this film more famous?

Author: (Vomitron_G) from the Doomed Megalopolis of Blasphemous Technoids
12 August 2009

More people should really seek out and watch THE SENDER. And the less you know about this film before going into it, the better. All you need to know about the plot, is the set-up. The film begins with a skillfully crafted, ominous scene in which a man (John Doe #83/The Sender) tries to commit suicide (how, you just have to see!). He doesn't succeed, and gets submitted to a mental hospital. From there on, the doctors have to find out who he is, and what his problems are. And rest assured, the more they discover, the creepier things get. This is a rather unique film, worthy of a bit more recognition. A bit slow in pace to some, perhaps, but for me the pace and rising tension were perfect. If any of you enjoyed films like Richard Franklin's PATRICK (1978) or Douglas Trumbull's BRAINSTORM (1983) - this one's maybe a bit of a stretch, as it's more sci-fi/thriller/drama orientated - then THE SENDER comes highly recommended.

Aside from the steady pace of lingering creepiness & mystery, I found that there were at least two real "WTF?" moments in this film. Two scenes that took me by surprise in a way I didn't know whether to cheer or be terrified. A very good (psychologically tinted) horror film, indeed! Yes, I'm rating it highly, but compared to some of the trash I watch on a regular basis, this film deserves some extra praises. And Paramount should really make an effort to release a worthy DVD edition of this film, adding a commentary track by director Roger Christian and maybe some other fine special features. Their 2008 release features only the film and nothing more.

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

A film featuring deadly dreams...before Elm Street!

Author: Aaron1375
11 December 2012

I got this film because I read about it from others and it sounded interesting. A horror film that I thought I had never seen! Well, I did indeed see this film as a kid. As soon as it opened I recognized it as the opening scene of the dude putting rocks in his jacket and walking into a lake sparked the memory rather quickly. Well, I kept watching as it has been forever since I had seen this film and it had some good moments, but it could of been a lot better too.

The film does start with a young man trying to commit suicide. He is promptly taken to one of the worst mental health facilities I have ever seen. This is mainly due to what they do throughout the film, I mean all it is missing is that nurse from "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" to make it the the absolute number one worst facility. Well a female doctor wants to assist this man who is suffering from amnesia while another doctor wants to use every extreme method of treating patients hoping to zap the young man out of being suicidal. Well, this young man has certain seems when he dreams or has nightmares he has very powerful telepathic abilities. These abilities make the doctor trying to help him and others in the facility see horrific things. Add the man's mother who appears from time to time seeming to want to help, but her motives are not clear.

The film has its moments, it really is not a hardcore horror film though. In fact, if one were to rate it now it would probably get a PG-13 rating except for one scene near the end involving the young man and another patient after the young man tries to beat up a television. Still, it keeps you wondering where it is going...I am just not entirely satisfied where it ended up. I just find it hard to believe they would have done what they did at the end to the young man as it seems pretty obvious he still needs some guidance. The gore is minimal, and you get scenes with rats and insects as well. The most disturbing scene was one involving a procedure being done on him as the cut look really good.

So this film had its moments, but it was just an okay film to me. Nothing super great or anything. It just seems like it needed more of a point or something. The thing with the mother that was revealed at the end was a bit too obvious as well. Still, it is a lot better than a lot of horror films and it does feature deadly dreams before the Nightmare on Elm Street franchise launched.

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2 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

A film with many facets--all turned on

Author: BloodTheTelepathicDog from north dakota
6 August 2011

Whether you want to categorize THE SENDER as a thriller, horror or sci-fi film, it makes for a rather strong movie in any genre. The plot centers on a doctor/patient relationship between amnesiac John Doe (Zeljko Ivanek) and Dr. Gail (Kathryn Harrold). Kathryn Harrold, as the good doctor, goes to bat for the young amnesiac when her colleague, Paul Freeman, wants to administer electro-shock therapy. But Harrold feels she can reach him without the questionable treatment. Little does she know that everyone, not just herself, can reach him for he is a gifted, yet troubled young man, who has the ability of telepathy.

Images are sent to Harrold via Ivanek which allows her to piece together his past. When John Doe's mother (Knight) meets with Kathryn Harrold, more pieces fall into place, but mother might have ulterior motives. Mother, also, might be a figment of her imagination or another of Ivanek's projected false images. The film focuses on Kathryn Harrold trying to set things in order and thus place the troubled mind of Ivanek at ease.

STORY: $$$ (The story has its strengths and weaknesses. I was quite shocked at how readily Paul Freeman's character accepts Harrold's theory of telepathy before proof is given. If he had any reservations, he became a full believer after the great electro-shock scene. There are numerous biblical references which some viewers will find off-putting, but there isn't any open bashing of Christianity, just the typical subtle Hollywood questioning of faith. Shirley Knight is a religious freak who viewed her gifted child as a reincarnation of Christ and there is a mental patient at Harrold's hospital that calls himself The Messiah).

ACTING: $$$$ (The acting is quite strong. Zeljko Ivanek was cast because he has a natural woebegone appearance with his droopy-dog facial features and Edgar Allen Poe eyes. Appearances aside, the young man gives a very good performance. Kathryn Harrold is very strong in the female lead, giving us a convincing performance as a shrink dedicated to human understanding and not radical treatments. She excels with a rather demanding role that forces her to play a strong-minded woman who must question the integrity of her thoughts when Ivanek begins to bombard her with mental images. Shirley Knight does a fine job in her subdued role while Paul Freeman has little to do but assist Kathryn).

SEXUALITY: $$ (There is no nudity in this film--it has a strong story and doesn't need flesh to gather viewers. Be that as it may, Kathryn Harrold gives a quality come-hither performance, never once shedding her clothes though, proving that an actress can be sexy without going nude. The first images she receives are at night, at her home, as she believes a burglar has intruded into her house. Kathryn wears a thin v-neck shirt in bed with, quite obviously, nothing on underneath. Those with a caboose fetish will like the scene when she reaches to secure a window and her backside is fully exposed.

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2 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

great suspenseful thriller WARNING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! SPOILERS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Author: callanvass
26 May 2004

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

awesome suspenseful thriller has great directing VERY good acting and all the characters are amiable and has good characterization the gore is minimal a few blood splashes here and there this was one heck of an engrossing ride it has a chilling ending a great score and very amiable characters this is very hard to find luckily i found at my local video store it was sad haunting and very creepy only one problem it ended too abruptly and it was kinda confusing to understand don't be fooled by the bland looking cover box this is a true forgotten gem that i recommend it highly the dreams are pretty cool and the rats creep me out out the opening scene where he tries to commit suicide was disturbing ***1/2 out of 5 and the scene of him walking the water that was disturbing as hell if ya ask me

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2 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

Better Than Other Films From The Time

Author: Space_Mafune from Newfoundland, Canada
29 September 2002

A young amnesic man is admitted to a mental ward following a suicide attempt. Dr. Gail Farmer is called upon to help him try and regain his memory. She soon discovers the young man possesses frightening telepathic abilities.

This film starts off extremely well and builds up a strong tale full of mystery, suspense and horror. A number of overdone shocks and the final ending however hurts the film. Kathyrn Harrold does provide a tremendous performance as Dr. Gail Farmer.

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4 out of 7 people found the following review useful:

The Sender

Author: Scarecrow-88 from United States
15 August 2009

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

An suicidal amnesiac(Zeljko Ivanek), with enormous telepathic power, is brought into a psychiatric hospital to determine what his identity is. The doctor over his care, Dr Gail Farmer(Kathryn Harrold) begins seeing her patient's own nightmares, seeking to understand why he's plagued by such horrific images that keep him from sleeping normally. Meanwhile, once an attempt at electroshock therapy yields a devastating link to the other patients in the hospital(..not to mention, the staff and security, often experience his nightmares as well), the efforts to heal "John Doe #83" are of a major concern of all involved. It's determined that he is a "sender", his abilities to transfer what he thinks and dreams to others heightened thanks in part to his perhaps deliberate amnesia due to a past traumatic event(s)which is better to forget than re-live. Farmer often receives communication from her patient's mother, Jerolyn(Shirley Knight), by telephone and startling appearances..what makes these visits so strange is the fact that no one else sees her come or go through the hospital into her office. Soon Farmer is led to believe that Jerolyn may be the root cause of what is tormenting "John Doe #83" and she will have to fight for him for his very life might be at stake.

One thing I stand amazed about in regards to the horror genre is the constant discovery of gems that you have never heard of until word of mouth leads you to them. THE SENDER is such an example. Through a few people on this site, I found out about the movie and I was pleasantly surprised to find it available on DVD. Everything about the movie is top-notch. The acting from a superb cast(..especially Harrold, a wonderful, underrated actress and the sterling Shirley Knight with the kind of character who's really spooky), the ever-developing plot always unleashing startling scenes of shock and unpredictable images(..rats, roaches, blood dribbling from shattered mirrors, not to mention the show-stopping electro-shock sequence where the staff are "affected" by their attempt to "help" their patient, sent hurling through the air, crashing into equipment and through windows), really creepy score which hits all the appropriately effective notes, and the stunning cinematography from Roger Pratt(..who's one of the best working today, notable for such films as TROY and a few of the HARRY POTTER movies).

I think THE SENDER is such a success because it handles such a subject as dream transference and telepathy in a matter-of-fact, clinical way, trouble and care provided in developing the characters. In other hands, this could've been incredibly hokey and an object of ridicule. The professional look and feel of the film really sets this apart from other films of it's type. Highly recommended to science fiction / horror fans, also of definite interest to the "asylum" genre crowd, I think. I'm a big fan of "telepath" horror themes, so THE SENDER did the trick nicely. One of character actor Zeljko Ivanek's first big roles and he's very effective in a haunting performance.

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