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Impulsive - sex, voyeurism, suicide, murder......... good movie too...
merklekranz8 December 2008
Viewing "Impulse" is a very satisfying experience. Unpredictable films are such a rarity, when one comes along like "Impulse", it is something to embrace. The script is logical, and extremely creative. Meg Tilly, Tim Matheson, Hume Cronyn, and Bill Paxton, give believable performances. This could have played out like a zombie movie, but "Impulse" is far superior to any boring "zombiefest", and originality shines through in almost every scene. You get the feeling that something like this could have actually happened, even though the script is pure fiction. From the "grabber" opening till the credits roll, you will be fascinated. Very entertaining and definitely recommended. - MERK
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This film DOES make sense!
ritaskeeter-17 May 2006
OK, first of all, ignore the last person' review. They admit to falling asleep through it so it's no wonder they didn't understand what was going on!!! As thriller/horrors go, this film ain't too bad, it is certainly very watchable. Right from the opening scenes you get a general idea exactly what is going to be the cause of all the craziness that follows, and come the end you are proved right with everything being made clear.

I enjoyed this movie, it was quite eerie at times and as old films go it was passable. Great to watch late at night! I give it a generous 7 out of 10.
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Lost cult film ?
vanfolc18 August 2007
Warning: Spoilers
Im not a big Tim Matheson fan but i have to admit i liked this film.It was dark and a small bit disturbing with some scenes a bit edgy,i don't know were to classify this film its a bit SF and a bit horror slash thriller.I saw this at about 2.00am or so on my local channel there was nothing else on so i decided to watch it.If you have not seen this film id recommend it its not really that bad,the characters are interesting enough but not really explored to their full potential which could have made this film even more better.I don,t know if this film went to the cinema but it felt like it was made for TV or went straight to video,i for one would buy this if it,s on DVD it fits well with my type of film and has a small bit of the X-FILES story attached to it.Government undertakings or shifty corporations involved in dodgy shadowy dealings.Overall a good film.
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Inventive and disturbing
heedarmy9 February 2000
The idea of a town going slowly mad is not an original one, but it's cleverly handled in this disturbing little film, which eschews gruesome horror in favour of an accumulation of telling detail. Well worth viewing.
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Half-Remembered But...
loganx-211 June 2008
Part of me doesn't know how to rate this, because I saw it years and years ago, but it's one of those films which left a vivid impression on me. "Impulse" is the story of a town who due to an unknown chemical in the milk supply(the townspeople never know) begin to lose all impulse control.

What follows are increasingly disturbing scenes, which flow into each other, blankly, as a sheriff opens fire on young delinquents, a mother watches nonchalantly as her children light one of her friends on fire, doctors turn off life support, and sexual laws and norms completely breakdown. It's a bleak film, where impulses like curiosity, the desire to save others, are spare, and sex and violence all but absolute by the films apocalyptic end, involving a government cleansing with a crop duster. One of those odd sci-fi films you watch late at night and confuse for a dream till see the box in the video one day. Be interesting to take a second look.
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Stephen King-style small town horror
Leofwine_draca4 June 2018
Warning: Spoilers
IMPULSE is an under-appreciated and little-seen US horror flick of the early 1980s. It's no masterpiece - the budget is a little too cheap and the pace is a little too slow for that - but it works a treat as a story in the Stephen King mould, with a small town being assailed by a mysterious virus which forces people to give into their worst impulses. It also reminded me of James Herbert's THE FOG a little. The capture of small town behaviour is well realised, while the various set-piece sequences really stand out, with the berserk sheriff being a highlight. The strong cast includes Tim Matheson, the great Bill Paxton, and Meg Tilly, who as anyone who has seen PSYCHO II will know, is a fine actress.
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Old people are crazy. Also, Bill Paxton.
idontneedyourjunk29 September 2017
Warning: Spoilers
A very small earthquake in a very small town appears to be the cause of everyone becoming increasingly crazy. The heroine's mother attempts suicide, which brings her back to her home town with her boyfriend. Some crazy stuff happens, such as;

-old people play kickball in the street

-an old guy urinates on the boyfriend's car

-old people suddenly try to rob a bank that they're in

-the old sheriff shoots a shoplifter in the back with an M16. Okay, it's America, so that one isn't so far-fetched. But old people are crazy.

Bill is the heroine's brother, he and his father run a very small dairy farm that doesn't have any cows, but somehow produces enough milk for the town. No sterilization, no pasteurization, hell, it's not even covered, it just sits in a big open vat before being poured into bottles.

While the boyfriend starts to go crazy, he discovers old pictures that the brother has of her sister, and kills him.

She then drives away while the whole town is now burning after everyone starts a riot.

A quick cut to the end (because many scenes make no sense), the boyfriend discovers the earthquake broke open a sealed pit that is leaking something into the water that is being used in the local milk (she didn't drink any). He then discovers the "government" are spraying the town, and they shoot him. The heroine sees him getting gunned down, and rams the shooter, killing him. She then walks away, the end.

End credits reveal the entire town mysteriously die (from the government spraying, presumably).

Starring: Anne Haney, an old woman who steals from the bank, goes on to play Judge Travelini in LA Law

John Karlen, he's been playing cops for 30 years, but here ends up as a dairy farmer

Meg Tilly (whom I often mistake for her sister, Jennifer), most famous for The Big Chill, recast in 3 movies after receiving injuries, took a 15 year hiatus to raise her children, came back to starring in Bomb Girls, 6-part miniseries that turned into 2 seasons and a movie

Tim Matheson, did a lot of kid's cartoons in the 60s (Jonny Quest, Sinbad Jr, Young Samson & Goliath, Space Ghost (and recently Scooby-Doo in 2013)), most famous as Vice-President on West Wing and Dr Breeland on Hart Of Dixie. He also appears in the latest Jumanji movie.
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Great film for the right viewer!
vitalymakievsky22 March 2022
Firstly to enjoy this film, you have to have some basic knowledge, on how various, governmental agencies and the military industrial complex conduct themselves. Lots of real examples, that have been declassified under the FOIA, or just available but ignored by the big press.

Secondly, this film will not entertain people who love the super fast pacing of modern big budget films which rely to exploit your senses by ridiculous nonstop fight scenes, CGI cars that defy all laws of physics, etc. Impulse, doesn't have the slow pace of 70s westerns, but it is slow enough where you have to think carefully about what the characters are thinking and feeling.

I'm sure the horror junkies who especially love zombie films will enjoy Impulse...given that the viewer has the first or second parameters, listed above.

You, know who you are so either skip this for Fast and Furious 23, or enjoy this hidden gem.
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gridoon2 November 2002
"Impulse" is a movie for which I had relatively high expectations: the idea of people losing the ability to control their impulses and totally disregarding all the established social rules sounds very, very intriguing. However, the result we get here is (despite a few unexpected twists) a disappointing and very slow-paced (there is a dialogue-free passage where a man simply walks around for about seven minutes) thriller. George Romero had used basically the same story ten years earlier in "The Crazies" - and he did it much better. (**)
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Good entertainment.
Hey_Sweden20 February 2023
Warning: Spoilers
Big city girl Jennifer (Meg Tilly, "Psycho II"), a dancer by profession, goes back to her small hometown with her boyfriend Stuart (Tim Matheson, "National Lampoons' Animal House"), a surgical resident, in tow. Jennifers' mother (Lorinne Vozoff, "Heart and Souls") had snapped and attempted suicide, and when Jennifer & Stuart get back, they find that the local populace ALL seem to have lost their minds. They're all giving in to their basest impulses, having no more moral filter. And very few characters in this thriller seem to be immune to this epidemic of madness.

"Impulse" is a solid, entertaining 80s example of the "small town going mad" genre populated by films like George Romeros' "The Crazies" and its remake. While it really lacks the style and social comment of a filmmaker of Romeros' caliber, it's properly intense and disturbing, in its best moments. It does get the viewer thinking about how ugly things could get in any burg if we all started doing any bad things of which we could conceive. A highlight sequence has Jennifer trapped inside a burning garage. All in all, the tone is commendably grim, and the cast give very effective performances. The location shooting in Northern California gives it great atmosphere, and the score by Paul Chihara ("Death Race 2000") is first-rate.

The cast also includes the wonderful Hume Cronyn ("Cocoon") as the local doctor, John Karlen ('Dark Shadows') as Jennifers' father (a dairy farmer), Bill Paxton ("Aliens") as her brother, Amy Stryker ("The Long Riders") as her good friend, Claude Earl Jones ('Dark Night of the Scarecrow') as the Sheriff, Robert Wightman ("Stepfather III") as Howard, and the great character actor Peter Jason ("They Live") as a mysterious government man.

Violent without being particularly gory, "Impulse" knows how to reel you in with its opening sequence, and rarely offers a let-up until its rather downbeat conclusion. Incidentally, I would disagree with the notion that this is too slowly paced; I think its pace is just right, and appreciate the fact that the filmmakers don't try to rush through this story.

Written by Nicholas Kazan ("Reversal of Fortune") and Don Carlos Dunaway ("Cujo"), and directed by 80s genre specialist Graham Baker ("Alien Nation", "The Final Conflict").

Seven out of 10.
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Earthquake Triggers Social Earthquake.
jehaccess630 October 2008
Warning: Spoilers
I got this DVD after seeing Meg Tilly in 'Masquerade' and wanting to see some of her other efforts. I must say Meg looked very graceful in her opening ballet scene. Meg's IMDb biography mentioned that she started out as a ballet dancer. Her dance training really shone through in this scene.

The film starts out with a mild earthquake in a small rural town. Since the film opened with this incident, I knew that it would figure prominently in the plot. Soon afterward, the town residents start to loose control of their impulses.

The film slowly declined as the plot unfolded. The premise seemed sound enough, but nothing ever really gelled in the film. Bill Paxton was plain weird as Meg's sexually deviant brother. His stash of provocative pictures of his sister really creeped me out, more than the violence in the film.

I never really understood how the vault of toxic chemicals even happened to exist. The remote rural location seemed far from ideal for a chemical weapons production or storage location. If the stored substance was so dangerous, it would eventually escape due to deterioration of its abandoned storage vault, never mind an earthquake. Even the densest bureaucrat would realize the holocaust a leak would produce and have the site cleaned up before the facility was closed. The vault was ideally placed to contaminate the local water table. For all these reasons, the plot failed to maintain credibility.

It was kind of eerie to watch all the old cars and travel back to a pre-internet world. It is sobering to realize how much the world has changed in the last 25 years. For this reason alone, I will return to this film someday.
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An Unsettling Experience
baldbassman23 April 2007
Warning: Spoilers
I saw this movie on TV late one night years ago, but it was a disturbing experience that has stayed with me to this day.

The premise may seem a bit unoriginal - due to an earthquake, a hidden underground store of a toxic nerve agent in the hills above a small town is breached, and a microscopic amount of the substance finds its way into their food supply. The inhabitants of the town begin to lose their ability to exercise restraint over every whim and base desire that floats through all of our minds from time to time, and that normally we know we simply must not act upon.

The pace of the movie is slow, but for me that only added to the creeping unease as the townspeople's behaviour slowly starts to unravel. There are several surreal and very unsettling scenes that have remained etched in my memory all this time.

It raises interesting questions about what we could all be capable of if we gave in to our most feral instincts. Did I enjoy it? I'm not sure 'enjoy' is the right word. Did it make me think? Definitely. I'm still thinking about it. Scary stuff.
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Insulting, non-suspenseful, and poorly-made to boot...
moonspinner5513 November 2009
City girl Meg Tilly receives a horrifying phone call from her mother and, understandably shaken, returns home to her family's rural digs, only to be faced with a mystery: why are all the homespun residents acting out in bizarre and unsettling ways? Radiation thriller, with barely a nod to ecology, has small town residents going berserk, which (laughably) includes two women gazing at each other with desire in a public place and Tim Matheson receiving oral attention from a girl on an office bench. The picture is too silly for words, wasting Tilly's wistfulness and quiet intensity on trash while forcing itself into a corner it can't possibly hope to get out of. Some of the cinematography by Thomas Del Ruth is good (particularly a fire sequence set inside a garage), though he is let down by the scrappy editing--and a fairly bathetic finale. Simplistic screenplay has nary a surprise nor a shred of originality up its sleeve. *1/2 from ****
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Good things and bad things
Wizard-816 November 2009
This is a kind of a mixed review. First, I'll get to the stuff that I liked about "Impulse". The movie doesn't try to do too much right away, instead attempting to slowly build a sense of terror. The protagonists are less stupid than what you usually get in a movie like this, figuring that something is wrong fairly early on. The actions of the sick townspeople are believable and creepy. And some of the photography is really good, giving the viewer some striking images.

Now, the bad stuff. The movie is ultimately TOO slow for its own good. If things were speeded up a little bit, the movie would have had an acceptable pace. While some of the photography is good, much of the movie has a flat made-for-TV feel (not surprising, since this was made by the ABC television network.) The revelation of what's causing the mayhem is not done by detective work, but more feels like the screenwriters were getting near the end and felt they had to reveal it right there and then. The ending is also unsatisfying, leaving several big questions unanswered.
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Another Slightly Scummy Eighties Movie.
Son_of_Mansfield18 September 2005
Warning: Spoilers
A fantastic idea, about losing control over animal impulses, is bogged down in simplistic thought and poorly directed scenes. The film starts out creepy, but becomes muddled in scene after stilted scene of sex and violence. There is a distinct dirty vibe in the movie that never seems to go anywhere. A man pees on a car, the sheriff tries to shoot some delinquent kids, and a mother stands by as her kids attempt to burn one of her friends. It is all so vile. Only one character, Tim Matheson, has any other kinds of impulses such as curiosity. There are a few effective scenes such as Hume Cronyn's doctor playfully cutting off the oxygen to one of his patients and Tim Matheson introducing tiny Tim Matheson to a young girl. Meg Tilly is completely wasted in a boring role as is Bill Paxton. It is really Tim Matheson's movie and he is not bad. The main problem of the movie is lazy direction that kills every scene before it has a chance to live.
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Very missable
zworg220 November 2003
I have been known to fall asleep during films, but this is usually due to a combination of things including, really tired, being warm and comfortable on the sette and having just eaten a lot. However on this occasion I fell asleep because the film was rubbish. The plot development was constant. Constantly slow and boring. Things seemed to happen, but with no explanation of what was causing them or why. I admit, I may have missed part of the film, but i watched the majority of it and everything just seemed to happen of its own accord without any real concern for anything else. I cant recommend this film at all.
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Makes sense to say the least!
GOWBTW11 June 2015
Coming home should be reminiscent and subtitling. However, when a relative and the rest of the town started acting peculiar, then you start to wonder. In the movie "Impulse", it makes a whole lot of sense. Meg Tilly play Jennifer, a city girl whose mother called her and started to act erratic and who later shoot herself in the head. Tim Matheson plays Stuart, her husband who helps out with the family. Earlier, there was a earthquake, and after wards things were fine. Wrong. After the quake, people began to act violent or sexual. The bar scenes are always going to be unpredictable. Until one of the locals breaks his own fingers. Or how about the bank worker who lets a customer grab the money then go to the bar and become very unreasonable with Jennifer. Though Jennifer was the only one who didn't drink the local milk. It seems to be the cause of the insanity of the town. Since Stuart did work in the medical field, he was able to find out the cause of the insanity. Even though infected himself, he still have the guts to root out the cause. Very nice movie, could have more to it. Watchable. 2 out of 5 stars.
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This is a film that can leave a lasting impression...
genxjeff19 March 2006
Warning: Spoilers
I think that that creator(s) of this film's concept deserves a lot more accolades than they probably ever received. It isn't an Oscar caliber film of course, but, at least for me, this film has left a lasting impression since I first saw it back in 1984 (in the theatre).

I don't think this is (and hope it isn't) a spoiler, but: imagine acting on your impulses. Doing the first thought that pops into your head, saying the first words on your lips... No restraint, no conscious, nothing holding you back from saying or doing the things that, as intelligent adults, we know we shouldn't actually say or do. If anything, this film only scratches the surface - It doesn't go as far as it could go.

In a time when Hollywood seems obsessed with remaking older "classics" to try and cash in on today, wouldn't it be nice to see them remake an older film of modest success, for the sake of taking it to the next level? A bit further, or even to explore what the original crew didn't, wouldn't or couldn't deal with 20 years ago?

That's just my opinion anyway. :o)
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It's in the water...again!
paulclaassen5 August 2023
Warning: Spoilers
Despite its all-star cast, 'Impulse' has very little to offer (for me, at least). Categorized as horror, there's very little horror elements here. Thriller will suffice, at best.

Shortly after an earthquake, Jenny's mother calls her - ranting and calling her names, and then she shoots herself. So Jenny (Meg Tilly) and her boyfriend Stuart (Tim Matheson) then visits her home. Soon, the towns people start behaving strangely - mostly rude and crude.

Stuart and Jenny discover the water is polluted by toxic waste. As the towns people become infected, their quest for survival begins. Yeah, we've certainly seen this premise before. It's in the water...again! The film felt like fragments of other films sewn together. And if you must know, it doesn't have a satisfactory ending, with no explanation for the events.

Ultimately, I think this is going to be forgettable. There simply is nothing here that will make me remember it...
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wicked cool
bladeofwar15 September 2000
I saw this movie on SciFi the other day and must say it was like no other. A lot of cool scenes with people doing crazy s**t, cause they're acting on their first impulse and giving no second thoughts to their actions AKA some funny s**t. It didn't seem like it was that old a movie until the dude puts on a sleeveless jacket. Well this is my first attempt at writing a review for a movie so whatever. I'm gonna write more so hopefully they'll get better and if they don't then go cry to your mother!
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Might've worked better as a 45 stint than as a feature film
jordondave-2808511 July 2023
(1984) Impulse THRILLER

A small earthquake happens distilling a small little town called Sutcliffe creating a stir. Then the next scene has a mother calling her daughter Jennifer (Meg Tilly) while living on a big city, talks a bunch of nonsense before she commits suicide by shooting herself. After learning that her mother survived and is in critical care, Jennifer and her boyfriend Stuart (Tim Matheson)then come back to the town for a visit to see how the mother is holding up. But as the film is progressing, more and more people start to act erratic as well with suicidal tendencies! The real problem is that it states the story instead of making something from it, such as how come it took them this long to discover something has been tainted? Or why it had to take a couple of newcomers to find out what the problem is? It has good intentions, but it doesn't go nowhere, for viewers are able to know what the problem is way before the characters do themselves making the overall experience into a predictable one, and rather pointless which might've worked as a 45 minute stint than it would be as a feature film!
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Awesome movie
don_shoen7 April 2005
Warning: Spoilers
I saw this movie back in 1984, we first started watching "This Is Spinal Tap" and after 5 minutes we were ready to fall asleep. So we went instead to see this movie. If you have any conspiracy theory's going around in your head, you will want to watch this one.

The question you have to ask yourself when watching this movie are: Do you think the government would be capable of doing this? (In my opinion there is no doubt that they could)

But I don't want to give out too much information as that would be a spoiler and I think that you should view the movie for yourself.

But, just to let you know, we still talk about this movie 20 years later and trying to explain it to people is not the easiest thing in the world to do.
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Much better than I expected
sausalito-9389314 December 2018
I wasn't expecting much from this when it came on TV and was half-watching while doing computer stuff but it pretty soon drew me in. The characters and their interactions were much more realistic than I expected and the acting was really good. Last night I watched World War Z a big budget 'zombie' film from 2013 starring Brad Pitt and it was really poor - Impulse is a far more mature and involving treatment of a broadly similar theme.
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Do NOT return to your small, isolated hometown
dedeurs19 October 2017
Warning: Spoilers
Thank the Lord of Darkness; no eyliens from outer space and no munsters from the underworld! At least, that's my interpretation. I find comparisons with 'Invasion of the Body Snatchers' and the Zombie franchise way over the line.

In 1984, Meg Tilly still played pretty, vulnerable girls. Eventually she would excel in eccentric or batshit crazy characters. That's when I began to notice her and became a fan. She's one of the greatest 'B' actresses around, and till this day scandalously underrated.

A bit flawed movie (scripting & pacing) but it's worth the watch. There's good (and even modestly hot) action, it does well without special effects, it's by far not as predictable as other films in the genre. And it has a young and radiant Meg Tilly.
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Great entry in the "town goes crazy" subgenre
udar5528 July 2022
Jennifer (Meg Tilly) returns to her small California hometown with her boyfriend Stuart (Tim Matheson) after her mother attempted suicide. The strange part is her mother did it on the phone after she called Jennifer in a rambling rage. The stranger part is everyone in the town has started acting kind of strange after a small earthquake. Something has caused folks to lose the inhibitions and it results in all out chaos with everyone raging or lusting after each other. Wow! Now this is why I love watching movies because there is always an unheralded gem out there like this. Sure, it was done before with Romero's very similar The Crazies (1973), but this is just as engaging. This was Brit director Graham Baker's second feature (after The Final Conflict in 1981) and he handles it so well. There is a great slow build of craziness until things just explode. One great scene has Hume Cronyn as the town doc tampering with the mother's oxygen supply. Another is a scene where Matheson succumbs to the craziness by seducing a bubble gum chewing teenager that is done perfectly with no dialogue. Look for Bill Paxton as Jennifer's younger brother and Peter Jason as a government guy.
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