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The Borrower

The Borrower (1991) Movie Poster
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  •  USA  •    •  92m  •    •  Directed by: John McNaughton.  •  Starring: Rae Dawn Chong, Don Gordon, Tom Towles, Antonio Fargas, Neil Giuntoli, Larry Pennell, Pam Gordon, Tony Amendola, Robert Dryer, Richard Wharton, Bentley Mitchum, Zoe Trilling, Tamara Clatterbuck.  •  Music by: Ken Hale, Steven A. Jones, Robert McNaughton.
        Aliens punish one of their own by sending him to earth. The alien is very violent, and when the body he occupies is damaged, he is forced to find another.


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Image from: The Borrower (1991)
Image from: The Borrower (1991)
Image from: The Borrower (1991)
Image from: The Borrower (1991)
Image from: The Borrower (1991)
Image from: The Borrower (1991)
Image from: The Borrower (1991)
Plot Synopsis: An alien criminal is genetically devolved into human form & banished to Earth. The problem is that the process has made the creature's body extremely fragile to the point that during a fight with some rednecks shortly after arriving on Earth, its head explodes. The alien then wanders through a nearby city, frequently 'borrowing' the heads of various humans to use as a replacement for its own.

Film Review: Three years after making the bleakly disturbing HENRY: PORTRAIT OF A SERIAL KILLER, director John McNaughton followed up on the success of his debut feature by making this moderately budgeted sci-fi horror flick. The Borrower stars Rae Dawn Chong as a female cop on the hunt for a rapist (Neil Guintoli) as well as genre troopers Antonio Fargas (SHAKEDOWN; HOWLING VI: THE FREAKS) & Tom Towles (FORTRESS; the remake of NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD) making appearances.

The film has had the indignity of being shut down after running out of money, the incompleted film being shelved for two years before seeing the light of day. In its current form, the film does not feature any noticeable narrative gaps except for a badly-rushed ending where the alien takes over an ambulance (one of the worst rush-jobs of an ending in recent genre history).

Bad endings aside, the film's main problem is that it has a plot that is more along the line of "stuff happens" than resembling a fully fleshed-out story. The premise – that of an alien convict who goes around, squeezing people's heads off – is very limited in scope. The idea never develops into anything more than that. Sensing this, the screenwriters toss in a secondary plot about a pair of cops tracking down a rapist that, while a reasonably good story on its own, doesn't fit in with the rest of the film. If McNaughton, who has shown that he can make a serial killer story effective, persisted with the rapist angle, he would have had a decent film instead of the hodgepodge film shown here. On the acting front, almost everybody gives a decent performance. Chong & Don Gordon are well cast as the pair of cops. Guintoli, who would later (rather ironically) star in the Henry sequel, is suitably creepy as the rapist – the scene of him walking out of the hospital dressed in the uniform of a female cop that he had overpowered while said cop is lying on the hospital bed naked is the closest the film comes to disturbing the audience. As for the actors taking turns to play the alien, Tom Towles sets the bar high & gets surprisingly good mileage in playing an alien creature who is wandering around the city, mimicking the behaviour of passers-by & spending the night & following morning at a homeless shelter, but the other actors fail to match his performance exactly.

In the film's favour, the dark humour that McNaughton brings into the mix gives us a rather dark sense of irony. In this regard, the alien represents a hapless harbinger of doom – everywhere it goes, people die, not always by its own hand (check out the scene where the alien is sitting in a café drinking coffee while a bloody robbery is taking place right next to it).

The visual effects are wildly patchy – the bug-like alien in the beginning is quite good but the head-ripping effect is not as well made. Not to mention the fact that the continuity is lousy – not much is done to convince the viewer that the alien's body & head are different.

Review by DigitalRevenantX7 from the Internet Movie Database.