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PULSE - 1 Slime
Rated PG-13
Copyright 1988 Aspin Film Society
Reviewed by Andrew Borntreger on 'a long time ago'

The Characters:  

  • David - Matthew Lawrence! Boy staying with his father for the summer (standard divorced 80's family). Carries around a plastic horse toy and generally acts like a wuss.
  • Bill - David's father. When he is not trying to fumigate his son with cigarettes then he is royally screwing up as a parent.
  • Ellen - Roxanne Hart! Bill's new wife, she seems to have a better grasp of social interaction than her husband.
  • Stevie - Joey Lawrence! Young kid who fills David in on the neighborhood's problems.
  • The Old Man - Looks like Freddy Kreuger's grandfather to me, but he is the only one to really understand the evil force at work in this movie (no, not the director).
  • The Jordans - Family living across the street from Bill and Ellen, they were killed by the Pulse. In fact, as the movie starts Mr. Jordan is busy destroying his house with a baseball bat.
  • The Pulse - Evil electricity. Yes, I know it's silly, but that's what it is.

Buy It!

The Plot: 

The idea of a malevolent force living inside the local power lines (and thus, inside your home) is not a bad one. We can probably live with the plot, but what about the movie? The fact that we are treated to multiple shots of stuff like, oh I don't know, the thermostat (accompanied by tense music) to heighten our fear should give you the answer.

Apparently an electrical storm causes something to happen at a substation. Exactly what happens we will never know, because we pretty much see the lightning strike, then spend some time watching different film angles of power lines and equipment overlaid with the opening credits. I think that the lightning strike created "The Pulse," allowing it to travel over the wires finding a safe place to kill people, but do not quote me on that.

Enter Bill, Ellen, and David, the standard (fissionable) elements of a nuclear family. His dad's house might be in a well to do neighborhood, but Bill has installed all sorts of bars on the windows to prevent forced entry. Since the chances of a burglary in this film are probably nil, we can bet they will be unable to leave the cursed house at some point due to Bill's paranoid security measures.

Demonic forces (even ones with polarity) love to torment young children and the little wuss makes a perfect target, so how does it screw with David? By cracking gas mains, making the television go freaky, and eventually turning the home into a flaming death trap. It is all very silly to me, including the grass dying around the house. The current usually stays inside the wires or various appliances, why would plant matter start dying? Guess it just seemed like a "horrific" thing to happen.

If there was ever a movie the Amish would enjoy this is it ("See Jeremiah! Machines are the Devil's work! Now go outside and round up your six brothers for supper."), perhaps that was the audience targeted when it was produced? If so then someone in marketing got fired, probably beat up and then fired now that I think about it.

Things I Learned From This Movie: 

  • High voltage power lines are not very frightening, spooky music or not.
  • Police helicopters are sent to domestic disturbances.
  • Cops drive around upper middle class neighborhoods at night and shine their spotlights in the windows.
  • Gas main breaks are caused by electrical surges.
  • Garage doors are more resistant to battering than most castle gates.
  • Kids always sleep in their socks.
  • Circular saws can precisely fire an irregularly shaped bolt across the room with enough force to knock a man unconscious.
  • Electricity growls before attacking.
  • A sixty pound kid can stop the fall of a man weighing three times that.

Stuff To Watch For: 

  • 5 mins - RANDOM ACTS OF VIOLENCE AGAINST A HOUSE!
  • 6 mins - Oh no! The carpet is soaked!
  • 11 mins - I am pretty sure that your mom, his ex-wife, would not go for the idea of dad "staying over."
  • 15 mins - A telephone pole! Splinters! The horror, the horror!
  • 49 mins - Ellen didn't notice that the garage door looked battered or something?
  • 59 mins - My God, the shower! Run! RUN!
  • 62 mins - Okay, so the evil electricity affected the gas hot water heater, froze the facet open, and locked the shower door?
  • 64 mins - It is a sliding shower door, just kick the damn thing in. Use a lamp to break it? What the hell?
  • 81 mins - Who poured flaming alcohol on the floor?

 Audio clips in wav formatSOUNDSStarving actors speak out 

FileDialog
Green Music Note pulse1.wav Stevie: "And when she turned it on it shot that metal thing right up into her face, shot it up just like a gun. Isn't that bad? It shot it up right through her eyeball!"
Green Music Note pulse2.wav David: "Listen please!"
Ellen: "He seems to think that what happened at the Jordan house is going to happen here."
David: "It comes in through the wires, I saw it and that night that you were gone I felt it!"
Green Music Note pulse3.wav Bill: "You want me to believe that there is some...THING in the house that is trying to kill my son? Come on, that is crazy!"
Green Music Note pulse4.wav Old Man: "It ain't a thing, it's a signal...a pulse, kinda like a voice. So what you've got to do is to get rid of anything in your house that might have ears to hear it."

 Click for a larger imageIMAGESScenes from the movie 

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 Watch a sceneVIDEOMPEG video files 

Video Clippulse1.mpg - 3.1m
Oh no! An immobile circular saw that wants to kill you! Since this is a "serious" movie and the power tool will not launch itself through the air then a more reasonable mode of attack has to be used.

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Comments:Write CommentPages: 1 [2]
Re: Pulse
Reply #9. Posted on June 14, 2010, 09:29:43 PM by Kooshmeister
Re: the locked shower door, the pulse didn't do that. Ellen did, by pulling it shut tightly. A flimsy excuse but at least one that doesn't rely on the evil electricity.
Re: Pulse
Reply #10. Posted on March 02, 2012, 02:41:50 AM by Felicity
I bought this on DVD for about $10. I overpaid.

I thought I would like it because itís í80s, itís horror, and itís got Cliff de Young (and he gets to be a good guy in this one!).

Instead, it was too slick to be a good bad movie, but too cheap to be a good good movie. I should have known going in that it was going to be a trapped-in-a-place movie, and I generally find those boring.

Granted, I did just buy Hide and Go Shriek! today, in which a bunch of teens get trapped in a furniture store at night, but it was only $2!
Re: Pulse
Reply #11. Posted on March 02, 2012, 04:49:50 AM by claws
This one certainly has a following. I wasn't aware until I had internet.
I read a Pulse review in a Video Magazine back in the late 80s, and had the movie on my to-watch list for ages.
I finally found the DVD a couple of years ago and quite enjoyed the film. It's not great but a solid little "home invasion" flick with neat visual effects.
Re: Pulse
Reply #12. Posted on June 19, 2012, 06:50:24 PM by JBFletcher
I believe there is an unfair harshness to some of these comments. I saw this movie when I was a kid and was afraid to use showers that did not have curtains. There is something to be said for taking everyday household objects and making them scary. Even if done really poorly. Maybe sissy 8 year olds were the target audience.
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