A teenager is part of an interactive video game where he kills innocent victims. Later, the murders become real.


John Flynn


Brian Owens (story), Andrew Kevin Walker (screenplay)
1 nomination. See more awards »





Cast overview, first billed only:
Edward Furlong ... Michael
Frank Langella ... Detective Hayden
T. Ryder Smith T. Ryder Smith ... The Trickster
Amy Hargreaves ... Kimberly
Jamie Marsh ... Kyle
Victor Ertmanis Victor Ertmanis ... Martin
David Hemblen ... Dr. Fromberg
Vlasta Vrana ... Frank
Domenico Fiore Domenico Fiore ... Ken (as Dom Fiore)
Claire Riley Claire Riley ... News Anchor
Tod Fennell ... Young Michael (as Tod Fennel)
Michèle-Barbara Pelletier ... Stacie (as Michele-Barbara Pelletier)
Dean Hagopian Dean Hagopian ... Mr. Keller
Donna Baccala ... Mrs. Keller (as Donna Bacalla)
Jérôme Tiberghien Jérôme Tiberghien ... Mr. Tebb (as Jerome Thiberghian)


A lonely teenage horror-movie fan discovers a mysterious computer game that uses hypnosis to custom-tailor the game into the most terrifying experience imaginable. When he emerges from the hypnotic trance he is horrified to find evidence that the brutal murder depicted in the game actually happened -- and he's the killer. Written by Kevin Ackley <kackley1@aol.com>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


An Interactive Trip To Hell See more »

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for strong violence, and for language and some sexuality | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »

Did You Know?


Is originally based on the computer-game "Brainwaves" (released as "Brainscanners" in Europe after the film was released). See more »


In a mid-credits scene, Trickster says that we've forgotten something and shows the German Shepherd carrying the severed foot back to Michael's house. But the murder where the foot was severed was only in the game and time reset itself when the game was over, thus the victim never died or lost his foot. See more »


[first lines]
Young Michael: [Older Michael lays in bed having a nightmare about the scene of his parents accident, seeing his younger self laying on the operating table calling out] Mom! Mom!
Young Michael: [Michael see's his younger self in the street of the accident over his dead father] Mom! Mom! Somebody help us!
See more »

Crazy Credits

As the end credits start, we hear Trickster say "Wait a minute. Haven't you forgotten something?" and the credits screen shatters as if it was made of glass. It then shows a scene involving the dog with the dismembered foot from earlier in the film, and then the end credits resume. See more »

Alternate Versions

The UK Guild video was cut by 58 secs with edits to a scene where a man is repeatedly stabbed and his foot severed. The cuts were waived for the Optimum DVD release. See more »


References Total Recall (1990) See more »


Make It Now
Performed by Mudhoney
Written by Mudhoney
Produced by Conrad Uno and Mudhoney
Courtesy of Reprise Records
By Arrangement with Warner Special Projects
See more »

User Reviews

Imagine A Nightmare on Elm Street by way of Tron and Wizard of Oz and you'll have a rough idea, more Comedy/satire than horror thriller
10 April 2021 | by IonicBreezeMachineSee all my reviews

Michael Brower (Edward Furlong), a lonely fan of horror films and video games still suffers from lingering trauma (both physical and mental) as a result of a vehicular collision that disabled his leg and killed his mother. Michael's niche interests are a point of ridicule for the student body and a point of contention for the faculty who equate such interest on the level of rape and narcotics. When Michael's only friend, Kyle (Jamie Marsh) tells him of a new interactive horror game called Brainscan, Michael calls the info number and is sent a copy without having placed an order. The game delivers on fear, but the presence of a malevolent entity known as The Trickster (T. Ryder Smith) blurs the lines of reality with the horror of the game appearing in real life.

Brainscan was one of the few Slashers still released to cinemas in a time where the genre was mostly on the decline and entries were dumped on Home Video or cable. While slasher series such as Leprechaun, Child's Play, and Candyman did emerge during the 90s, most of them couldn't hold audience interest and were met with either diminishing margins or sequels going straight to video. One of the last film's to be released by Gaumont/Columbia joint venture Triumph Releasing Corporation before reorganizing as Sony Releasing Corporation, Brainscan was a critical and box office disappointment upon release opening at a dismal 10th place upon initial release and withdrawing from theaters two weeks later. While Brainscan isn't a lost horror classic by any means, I think it does have more on its mind than most give it credit for.

The movie was released shortly after the moral panic on video games in the early 90s spawned by games such as Night Trap and Mortal Kombat that lead to the congressional inquiries of 1993 as well as the establishment of the ESRB so the industry could self regulate (not unlike the moral panic of the 30s that put an end to Pre-Code Hollywood with the establishment of the Hayes Code). Brainscan has a rather subversive attitude to its subject matter, playing devil's advocate for gory horror films and violent video games at a time when they were very much under attack. The movie even goes into breakdowns of the appeal behind this kind of entertainment with Edward Furlong's character Michael discussing such entertainment as an escape while David Hembeln's Dr. Fromberg makes hyperbolic statements on Michael's entertainment choices comparing viewing of horror films to Rape in one scene. Even once the terror of the movie begins, the movie uses its framework as a way of breaking down how we project ourselves into these types of entertainment as a way of contrasting and exploring our underlying fears in a fantastical exaggerated sense that serves as an outlet to help us understand our fears. It's a really smart breakdown of horror that feels genuine.

While the movie's take on horror from an analytical view is certainly well done, the movie as a horror film itself will be somewhat disappointing to people expecting a fright fest. T. Ryder Smith as The Trickster, a entity who appears to Michael through the video game and makes causal wise cracks about murder and mayhem is trying to be a digitized take on Freddy Kruger, but at no point is he legitimately scary and I'd equate him more with something like Beetlejuice but even Beetlejuice could be a little threatening despite being a comedic character. The Trickster I found more aggravating than funny or intimidating and the choice to model the character with an exaggerated Punk Rock style just seemed more confusing than anything else. Most of the kills in Brainscan happen off camera, and even when we do see them they're fairly tame in comparison to the high points of kill scenes in Friday the 13th or Nightmare on Elm Street. Brainscan while interesting in playing Devil's advocate for Horror films and video games isn't really all that interested in being a horror movie itself and plays more like a dark comedy.

While Brainscan will be disappointing to those expecting a digitized Nightmare on Elm Street as promised by the advertisements, Brainscan shouldn't be completely written off. The movie isn't all that scary, but it tackles the genre from a deconstructionist point of view looking at the appeal behind the genre and the purpose it serves its fans. While the movie doesn't want to be a horror film itself, it's production design and attitudes shows a real love, respect, and understanding of the genre. As long as people set their expectations correctly and are okay with a darkly comic coming of age story that happens to have horror iconography without much actual horror, Brainscan shows it does have a brain.

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Frequently Asked Questions

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Release Date:

22 April 1994 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Brain Scan See more »

Filming Locations:

Montréal, Québec, Canada


Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$1,725,000, 24 April 1994

Gross USA:


Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

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Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Dolby Stereo


Color (Pathécolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »

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