The front of this DVD from Troma proudly touts the presence of Spanish horror icon Paul Naschy and seventies Blaxploitation king Fred 'The Hammer' Williamson. This is a little misleading. They both appear in the film, but only for short periods of time. So if that's the reason you're after this movie, you can stop reading now unless you're a completist. Naschy is dead three minutes into the film and Williamson doesn't appear for much longer. Spoilers? Mild ones at best, but hey, I picked up the movie for their appearances and was disappointed in that aspect of the film, I figured you might be too.
With that out of the way, State Of Mind is a decent little European thriller with enough going for it to make it worth checking out. Jack (Don Hannah) and Ruth (Lisa Gaye) are driving around quite contently when a car accident finds them in a serious situation, as fire erupts around them and burns them as well as a hitchhiker they picked up.
A strange woman who happens to be a former nurse finds them and takes them into her home with hopes of nursing them back to health. She may have more up her sleeve than what is first apparent though, and they soon find themselves in a bad scene.
Meanwhile, Detective Loomis (Fred 'The Hammer' Williamson) is trying to piece together a few strange clues and figure out just what on Earth is going on. It turns out that an inmate from the local insane asylum has escaped, and is thought to be in the area where the car crash occurred. And speaking of the car crash, why weren't there any bodies recovered from the wreckage?
The plot isn't going to win any awards for originality and at times it reminded me a bit of Misery but those similarities are really only on the surface. State Of Mind is a well paced thriller with some solid gore and some very competent performances from its cast members. The direction isn't overly flamboyant but still manages to carry about it a reasonably slick sense of style that is both eye pleasing and gritty – two things a good thriller should always aspire to be.
State Of Mind is presented in a fullframe presentation that is washed out and murky looking. Compression artifacts are present throughout, especially in the blacker parts of a shot, and the whole thing looks too dark.
The two channel audio on the disc sounds ok, the levels are well balanced and everything is, for the most part, pretty easy to understand. There's not much happening in the way of channel separation at all, nor are there any real directional effects but you won't have a problem following the story as it goes along an while a little bit of the dialogue is slightly muffled, most of it sounds pretty decent.
The back of the case, as is the usual with Troma, claims that the disc is 'jam packed with Tromatic special features!' and while that may be a slight exaggeration, it's not too far off the mark – though the extras, as far as quality goes, are a mixed bag. First up is a poorly shot video introduction from Troma head honcho, Lloyd Kaufman, who claims that the film is lovingly re-mastered. It's not. There is a reasonably interesting commentary track with producer Jan Doense and screenwriter Phil Van Tongeren who have no shortage of things to say about the film, including pointing out all the spelling errors over the opening credits sequence. They seem to have had a good time working on the film and remain enthusiastic about it, even if they are well aware of its shortcomings. There are a few awkward gaps of silence during the track (most notably in the scene where the two female leads are in the tub together!) but that doesn't take away from it too much. These two are also interviewed in a separate segment, and while a lot of the same ground is covered and it's a bit repetitive, it's interesting none the less.
Producer James Desert and director Reginald Adamson are interviewed and while a lot of the material gone over in this piece is also covered in the commentary track, it's still nice to get the directors perspective on the film, which he has no problem reiterating in front of the cameras. Star Lisa Gaye also gets in front of the camera for an interview, and by the time we get to her there's really not a whole lot left to cover save for her personal experiences working on the film which is what she concentrates on for the most part. James Desert does a special effects demonstration that is only mildly interesting. A still gallery and scene selection are also included on the disc, as is a Troma weblink and a music video by Purple Pam for their song A Kick In The Head which was directed by Lloyd Kaufman and has absolutely nothing at all to do with this film.
If you're picking this one up for the presence of Paul Naschy or Fred 'The Hammer' Williamson, you'll likely be disappointed as they only play minor roles despite their top billing on the case. If you're wanting a decent b-grade thriller though, State Of Mind does the trick. The DVD quality leaves a bit to be desired but there are plenty of extras, some interesting and some not, on the DVD that make it worth a rental.
Ian lives in NYC with his wife where he writes for DVD Talk, runs Rock! Shock! Pop!. He likes NYC a lot, even if it is expensive and loud.