How about a legitimately good film for a change of pace?  Hey, I live for schlock, but my body does not bounce back from a cheese-only diet.  My figure is excitable, mercurial you might say.  I've been known to gain weight just from peering at kaiju posters (the burbling one-sheet for Varan: The Unbelievable cost me a couple of dress sizes).  1988's Pin has a sterling reputation amongst serious horror nerds.  I knew that it was held in high favor, but since when do expectations - grand or pragmatic - guarantee anything?  In the case of this Canadian crumb of psychosomatic horror, you would be well-advised to believe the hype.

Leon's father is a doctor.  Often times, he and his kid sister (Ursula) fritter the time away by sitting in on Dad's patient visits.  I'm pretty sure that's illegal, but whatever.  Oh, I forgot to mention that Dr. Papa is portrayed by Terry O'Quinn.  He gives off "stepfather" vibes.  If you think that's creepy, keep fucking reading.  He entertains his bored brood by anthropomorphizing a medical dummy and giving it a voice through amateur ventriloquism.  At first, Pin (short for Pinocchio) acts as a harmless educational tool.  Both Leon and Ursula (aged 7 and 5, respectively...sorry for the parenthesis overkill) believe it to be real.  Six years later, we see that Ursula has cracked the code.  She has debunked her father's gambit, but her older brother isn't quite as perceptive.

Poor, poor Leon.  For various reasons that I'll denominate in a minute, his mental faculties never stabilize.  His views of sexuality are warped, to say the least.  Of course, watching a nurse violate the anatomically correct Pin as an impressionable youth probably didn't help matters.  Ew.  But how unstable are we talking here?  Well, Leon learns how to ventriloquize (???) and begins to speak for Pin.  At this point, he can be classified as a full-blown schizophrenic adult.  The parents are now dead.  As for Ursula, she's trying to deal.  Satan bless her, she genuinely loves her brother in spite of his cerebral cachexia.

Okay, I've spent way too much of this review expatiating on the synopsis.  Normally, that's a no-no, but it's important that you know exactly what Pin is about.  The script is rich with subtext, the people are three-dimensional and the acting is incredible.  All of the players nail the nuances of their given roles.  Cynthia Preston deserves an honorable footnote for her sensible, informal performance as the ripened Ursula.  There is such a strong emphasis on character dynamics, the viewer develops empathy for each of the main troupers.  Get it?  Troupers?  On a sidenote, V.R. Troopers is superior to Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers in almost every conceivable way.

Pin is deep, but it also ticks as a menacing genre flick.  The mannequin itself is spookier than thou (I may have just named the next Rob Zombie album), and the score is a mishmosh of gnarled reverberations.  Grievances?  Arraignments?  Citations?  Eh, I can't point to a recognizable flaw, which isn't to say that Pin is the meridian of filmmaking.  It's fucking awesome, though.  FACTOID: Director Sandor Stern wrote the screenplay for The Amityville Horror.

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