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The Rewind Zone Gets Ahead With The Noggin-Snatching Antics Of “THE BORROWER”

Thursday, February 15, 2024 | Rewind Zone


You can always depend on Cannon Video to deliver the goods. THE BORROWER is one film among many titles listed in their repertoire. Directed by John McNaughton and produced in 1987 and finally released in 1991, THE BORROWER is a fun sci-fi horror film about an alien serial killer sentenced to the worst kind of punishment for his crimes – being genetically devolved into a human being and banished to the savage planet we call Earth. However, he is warned about the flawed process that involves having to continuously replace his damaged heads because they just happen to explode.

THE BORROWER’s opening scene is the only time you see a clear shot of the alien species. In their spaceship, one has already taken on human form, and the other is delivering the terms decided on by the alien tribunal. Down on Earth, a father (Tom Towles) and son (Bentley Mitchum) are night-hunting deer while smoking and drinking beers in their car – in the middle of nowhere, of course. Suddenly, they witness the ship descend and see the alien unload his cargo. A rumble ensues, ending with the deer-hunting duo shooting the alien-looking one, and the human-looking alien’s head explodes. Naturally, the bumpkin father gets too close to the headless body, and the borrower snags his next head.

As the alien stumbles onto the highway, sporting his new head, he gets hit by a car driven by a ditsy driver and gets a pair of sunglasses. Apparently, aliens love wearing our human shades! She drops him off at a hospital, but looking haggard and bloody, he decides to wander the neon-soaked streets. While observing humans during his exploration of the city, he makes friends with a homeless man named Julius (Antonio Fargas). They sleep, they dine, and the alien (calling himself “Bob”) learns some English. Before too long, Bob’s head starts to inflate. Then, BOOM! Time for a new head. Conveniently, Julius is nearby.

Policewoman Diana Pierce, played by Rae Dawn Chong from Commando (who’s not afraid to shoot a motherfucker), is on the case of multiple headless bodies showing up around town. Diana is getting no leads and assuming motives that are way, way off, leading her to dream of severed heads.

Meanwhile, a lady scientist experiments on the headless bodies and their cells, leading to some cannibalism and a convict escapee rising from the morgue. The horror elements in THE BORROWER are splendid due to the special effects of Kevin Yagher, who’s worked on a plethora of horror movies, including three A Nightmare on Elm Street sequels, 976-Evil, Rumpelstiltskin, Hellraiser: Bloodline, Face/Off and, interestingly enough, The Hidden, which is curiously similar to THE BORROWER.

I must mention the switching of heads immediately makes me think of the character Princess Mombi (Jean Marsh) in one of my all-time favorites, Return To Oz. How that scene was ever considered acceptable for children eludes me. Oh, the ‘80s!

Hats off to any ‘80s or ’90s movie that includes a heavy metal band. Especially one that’s shooting a music video in their house with a VHS camcorder wielded by the ravishing Mädchen Amick. If that’s not enough to pique your interest, THE BORROWER’s alien also amalgamates a dog head!

Yasmina Ketita
Columnist and host of The Rewind Zone. My love for horror and VHS was established while growing up in the '80s, my favourite decade, because it spawned a new generation of incredible practical effects, amazing VHS cover art and most importantly, provides nostalgia. Watching '80s horror movies comforts me in a sentimental way as if being back in those movie rental days.