The Borrower Film Details
Overview: 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.
Review: With his stock on the rise due to the slow-building success of the brilliant HENRY: PORTRAIT OF A SERIAL KILLER (1986), someone gave John McNaughton 2 million bucks to make a second feature. Filmed primarily in 1988, THE BORROWER ended up sitting on a shelf for several years until “Henry” finally received a proper (albeit limited) theatrical release in 1990. The delay was likely caused by two favors: 1. It was distributed by Cannon, who were having major financial problems at the time, and 2. so it could piggyback off of “Henry”s excellent reviews and publicity. Long story short, it didn’t work. “The Borrower” failed to come anywhere near the critical OR commercial success of the director’s previous film. Instead, it quickly faded from view after its initial VHS release. Even now, the film is hardly ever discussed. Most interviewers just skip right over it when questioning McNaughton as if it doesn’t even exist. One may assume all of that means this is awful, but that turns out not to be the case at all. If anything, this film is underrated and deserves much better treatment than it has received over the years. Things open aboard a spaceship where a bug-like alien criminal receives the worst punishment an alien can receive: being “genetically devolved” into a human (ha!) The alien (Robert Dryer) is then banished to Earth, where he’ll be forced to live out the rest of his days in the company of primitive Earth scum. Oh yeah, there’s one other tiny little problem; because the aliens haven’t quite mastered the de-evolution technique, the alien’s head will occasionally explode and he’ll be forced to acquire new ones every now and then. The banished alien is then dropped off and his head promptly pops. Thankfully a redneck poacher (HENRY co-star Tom Towles) is around to become the first donor. Alien Towles manages to get a ride from a bimbo teenager (Zoe Trilling) after she runs him over and eventually finds himself wandering the streets of downtown Chicago, where he’s befriended by a homeless man (Antonio Fargas). Things start to escalate from there. Rae Dawn Chong and Don Gordon play a pair of detectives trying to uncover why decapitated bodies and random heads keep turning up all over the city. What separates this film from numerous others of its type (aside from a very unusual premise) is McNaughton’s ability to find quirky humor in the bleak urban setting. The grimy, seedy downtown Chicago of “Henry” is pretty much the exact same Chicago seen in “The Borrower.” Druggies, thugs, hookers and homeless people lurk in the alleyways. People urinate right in the street and drop rats into someone’s dinner at a soup kitchen, gang members shoot up diners and – in addition to the alien killer – there’s a violent serial rapist (Neil Giuntoli) on the loose. Hell, there’s even rampant degeneracy in places you may not expect, like at a hospital where a doctor (Tony Amendola) is so busy screwing a nurse he doesn’t seem to care that people are literally dying all around him. Even paying attention to minor details in the background, you’ll notice things like posters for child abuse. Everything pretty much is laid out to illustrate that this can be an ugly world we live in, which pretty much just confirms that the alien’s punishment was an apt one! While this could have easily ended up being depressing, it’s not at all because there’s humor, satire and / or social commentary around every turn. Instead of slapping together a routine sci-fi action buddy cop pursuit film, McNaughton is aiming for something a bit different here. When it works, it’s great. When it doesn’t, you’re zipped right along to something else so it hardly even matters. The film also offers up many odd, hilarious and memorable scenes. My favorite is when a couple are lying in bed watching “The Garbage Pail Kids Movie” (!!) while their son’s amateur rock band (“I like the part about killing your parents.”) are downstairs being attacked by the alien, who’s been reduced to wearing a dog’s head! And then there are other bizarre scenes that, quite frankly, I have no idea what exactly they were shooting for, but the set pieces are all entertaining, bizarre and / or humorous. This film frequently receives two criticisms and both are valid. The first involves the special effects. While Kevin Yagher’s gore makeups are really good, there’s no explanation behind why the alien’s body size and skin color changes with each head swap. The second criticism involves the ending. Well actually, this film really doesn’t have an ending. It more kind of just stops and the credits roll. I’m not sure if they ran out of money or time, but concluding things on such an anticlimactic, rushed note leaves a bad taste in your mouth. Regardless, flaws and all, this is conceptually a lot more sophisticated and clever than numerous other ordinary horror and sci-fi films from the 80s and 90s that get a lot more undeserved love and attention than this one does.
Country: United States
Duration: 92 min
Genre: Comedy, Horror, Sci-Fi
Also known as: The Borrower,Borrower,O exogiinos,Alienkiller,Los ocupantes,Depredador galáctico,Инопланетянин в чужом теле,Ameaça do Espaço,Ο εξωγήινος,ボディ・チェンジャー,The borrower, le voleur de têtes,Il cacciatore di teste,Mutación asesina