With no less than eighty-six horror films released in 1988, it is no wonder that Pin got lost in the shuffle. This quiet psychological horror film had to compete with the likes of Phantasm II, The Serpent and the Rainbow, Maniac Cop, and a slew of “Slasher” films, sequels and the re-make of The Blob.
Sandor Stern directed and wrote the screenplay for Pin. Adapted from a novel byAndrew Neiderman and if you’ve never heard of him, I’ll just point out that he was the ‘ghost-writer’ for V.C. Andrews from 1986.
Pin aka Pin a Plastic Nightmare – Is about a family that is just about as dysfunctional as you could want. Pin is an anatomically correct plastic dummy. He is life sized and covered in clear plastic (all the better to see his muscles, bones and organs). He sits in a chair in Doctor Linden’s office, naked save for a towel over his lap. Dr Linden it turns out is a ventriloquist. He provides the voice for Pin, who he uses to ‘break the ice’ with his younger patients. He needs Pin because he is not a very communicative person. He has such a problem that he uses Pin to teach his own children about sex. Doc Linden is played with icy aloofness byTerry O’Quinn, fresh from his top notch perfomance in The Stepfather (1987). O’Quinn would go on to more impressive roles culminating in his pivitol role as John Locke in Lost (2004 – 2010). In Pin O’Quinn’s portrayal of Linden is spot on. This is a man who expects much from his children, especially his son, and yet does not know how to communicate with them.
Mrs Linden as played by actress Bronwen Mantel, obviously suffers from OCD so badly that she has plastic covers on all the family’s furniture. She even tells her son Leon that he can no longer play with a friend, because he looks diseased. Leon answers back and gets a slap for his angry retort. Unfortunately we are not able to read a lot into Mrs Linden’s character. She is there to provide a somewhat two dimensional version of a cleaning obsessed woman, who is also a good cook. But like her husband, she cannot communicate with the children either.
David Hewlett and Cynthia Preston play Leon and Ursula Linden with confidence and an impressive ease. The fact that they had worked together the previous year on the feature The Darkside obviously helped them to bond as the on-screen brother and sister. Hewlett especially impresses as the psychotic Leon who has believed since childhood that plastic man Pin is alive. Ursula has known since their first meeting that Dad was providing the voice for Pin, but she has never tried to convince Leon of it.
Once Doc Linden realises that Leon has developed an unhealthy fixation on Pin, he decides that Pin must go. He loads Pin into the family car with Mrs Linden and then speeds off to a convention where the good doctor decides that Pin must stay. Unfortunately, the fact that Doc has been a bit “weirded out” by Pin means that besides speeding on wet roads, he spends too much time looking at Pin in the rear view mirror. The combination of speed and inattention causes the car to crash and sic transit Doctor and Mrs Linden.
With the departure of Mom and Dad, Leon descends even further into the belief that Pin is real. And at this point we the audience start harbouring the belief that Leon might just be right.
This film deals with sexuality and the growing pains of becoming sexually aware. Yet for all the heavy sexual overtones, there is very little sex in the film. We get one glance of sister Ursula’s feet against the backseat window of a car and one flash of topless nudity when Leon unsuccessfully tries his first bid at sex.
The film has a bit in common with the South Korean film The Tale of Two Sisters. Like Two Sisters there are scenes in Pin that are absolutely, one hundred percent cringe worthy. Yet we as the audience cannot help but watch. The director does not hesitate to ”lose the music” in these excruciating scenes and it helps to sell the film.
The film has been likened to Psycho and I don’t really get the link. The only thing that it has in common is that it does indeed feel like a Hitchcock film. It is brilliantly paced, moody, creepy, and sometimes downright sad. Although I do suppose the end of the film could be linked to Psycho’s ending.
So If you get a chance see this film. You will not regret it. And if it doesn’t become a firm favourite…I’ll eat my plastic covered man.