Memory Run (1996)

Karen Duffy stars in a curious but disappointing DTV sci-fi film from Allan A. Goldstein. UK R0 DVD.

The Film

In a dystopic future, things are run by the 'Life Corporation' and their rule is opposed by rebel group 'The Union' who are supplied by criminal groups looting from the wealthy. Andre Fuller is one of these criminals who finds himself betrayed by a fellow gang member and left to take the blame for killing his girlfriend - he finds himself condemned for her murder and sentenced to be used as a scientific guinea pig by 'Life Corp'. He awakens from surgery to find that his conciousness has been transferred into the body of his girlfriend and he is being kept prisoner, he looks to find a way to escape and destroy the Corporation...

Co-written by director Allan A. Goldstein, Memory Run credits the novel Season of the Witch by Henry/Jean-Marie Stine as its inspiration (set in the future, the book sees a rapist sentenced to have his conciousness transferred into the brain-dead body of his victim and then stuggling to come to terms with his new body and identity via series of sexual encounters, the book was written as the writer underwent the process of gender re-assignment and is a very personal exploration of the changes involved). The film soley borrows the gender-switching storyline of the novel, although like everything else in the script, the idea is terribly underdeveloped. Gone is the darkly ironic idea of the gender switch being a punishment for a mysogenist, instead it seems to be a rather gratuitous experiment and not enourmously relevant to the storyline as a whole - there are no real gender issues discussed and Celeste could easily have had a woman's conciousness transposed without needing to change the script.

In fact Goldstein's storyline as a whole never seems quite sure what direction to take and feels far too simplified. Set in an utterly generic dystopic future, we never find out how the 'Life Corporation' has taken-over, or why, there are no attempts to show what life is like for normal people or over what scale of the world the corporation has control, we are just left to assume that corporation is evil. Similarly the rebel groups seem to have no specific motivation or demands and we just have to assume they are good. Even the opening makes no sense as we see Fuller robbing his girlfriend's house, whom he pretends to kill, only to return later to sleep with, only for one of his group to frame him for her murder (as opposed to killing him for certain and framing her?). Obviously wanting to appeal to the straight to video action crowd, the film packs in an excess of gratuitous action scenes during the second half (most of which appear in the trailer) which somewhat dispels the dark atmosphere built up and the latter half of the film takes on a pretty typical action movie plot with the characters trying to break into Life headquarters, when given the storyline, a descent into surreality might have been far more appropriate.

Obviously made on a low budget, Memory Run does a decent job of presenting a typical DTV dystopic feel with blue lighting, old warehouses and smokey city streets - it is let down by a wierd looking mini-sidecar bike that the rebels use to get around which looks more like a kid's toy and rather lackluster editing during the over-long action scenes (although these do at least include some classic squib action). Ambient electronic music is particularly fitting and well used in the background. Interestingly the black suited motorbike helmeted henchmen of the villains seem to pre-empt those of Equilibium (2002).

The lead role here is certainly challenging and Karen Duffy looks good, both in a very confused post-surgery state and later in an action role. The rest of the performances are fine if unmemorable.

An interesting idea is rather wasted on a script more interested in providing trailer fodder action scenes than developing the storyline even slightly. Despite a decent enough production and a solid leading performance from Karen Duffy Memory Run a disappointing film. Not recommendable.

In Brief
Anyone famous in it? Karen Duffy - an American model turned actress best known for Dumb & Dumber (1994)
Directed by anyone interesting? Allan A. Goldstein - best known for helming Death Wish V: The Face of Death (1994) with Charles Bronson and the poorly reviewed Leslie Nielsen comedy 2001: A Space Travesty (2000)
Any gore or violence ? Several bloody deaths.
Any sex or nudity? A couple of brief topless shots.
Who is it for? Of interest only to Karen Duffy fans for her leading performance, not enough sci-fi or action to appeal to fans of either.

Visuals Original aspect ratio - 1.33:1 academy. Colour
Picture quality is very good for a film of this type - clear and with plenty of detail despite the film being usually very dark.
Shot for video premiere so the academy ratio is correct.
Audio English stereo - sounds fine.
Subtitles None
  • Trailer - heavy with spoilers
Region Region 0 (ALL) - PAL
Other regions? Also available on DVD in Australia.
Cuts? Believed to be fully uncut. Titles and credits are in English.



All text in this review written by Timothy Young - 26th November 2014.
Text from this review not to be used without authorization.

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