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The Lawnmower Man
Directed by Brett Leonard
Produced by Gimel Everett
Written by Brett Leonard &
Gimel Everett (screenplay)
Starring Jeff Fahey
Pierce Brosnan
Jenny Wright
Jeremy Slate
Mark Bringleson
Dean Norris
Austin O'Brien
Geoffrey Lewis
Rosalee Mayeux
Ray Lykins
John Laughlin
Music by Dan Wyman
Cinematography Russell Carpenter
Editing by Alan Baumgarten
Lisa Bromwell (VHS edition)
Distributed by New Line Cinema
Release date(s) United States:
March 6, 1992
May 7, 1992
United Kingdom:
June 5, 1992
Running time 108 min. (Theatrical version)
140 min. (VHS version)
Country United States
Language English
Budget $10,000,000 (estimated)
Gross revenue $32,101,000 (USA)
Followed by The Lawnmower Man 2: Beyond Cyberspace

The Lawnmower Man is a 1992 American film written by director Brett Leonard and producer Gimel Everett which is loosely based on the Stephen King short story of the same title. It stars Jeff Fahey, Pierce Brosnan, and Austin O'Brien and was released by New Line Cinema in 1992.

An earlier short film also titled The Lawnmower Man, a more faithful adaptation of the short story, was directed by Jim Gonis in 1987.[1] See the "The Lawnmower Man" article for more information about this film.



Dr. Lawrence Angelo (Pierce Brosnan) works for Virtual Space Industries. His part in "Project 5" involves increasing the intelligence of chimpanzees using drugs and virtual reality. One of the experiment's chimps escapes using the warfare technology he was being trained to use. Angelo is revealed as generally a pacifist, who would much rather explore the intelligence-enhancing potential of his research without having to apply it for military purposes.

Jobe Smith (Jeff Fahey), the "lawnmower man" of the title, has an unspecified learning disability; he lives in the garden shed owned by the local priest, Father Francis McKeen. McKeen's brother, Terry, is a local landscape gardener and employs Jobe to help him with odd jobs. Father McKeen, who is apparently Job's guardian, takes to punishing the challenged Smith with a belt when Job apparently fails to complete his chores. Their interaction indicates that the abuse is habitual as Job requires little prompting from the Mckeen to remove his shirt to receive lashings on his back.

While Dr. Angelo records audio notes about needing a human subject, Jobe is mowing his lawn. It turns out that Peter, the young son of Angelo's neighbors, is friends with Jobe. Angelo invites them to play some virtual reality games and persuades Jobe to participate in his experiments, telling him it will make him smarter. Jobe agrees and begins a program of accelerated learning, using nootropic drugs, virtual reality input and cortex stimulation. Dr. Angelo makes it a special point to redesign all the intelligence-boosting treatments without the "aggression factors" used in the chimpanzee experiments.

Jobe soon becomes smarter, and Dr. Angelo starts taking Jobe to his lab at work to use the technology there. Jobe begins having sex with a young rich widow, Marnie, during his daytime job; he learns Latin in an hour-and-a-half at the lab at night. Jobe starts to have telepathic and hallucinatory experiences, but continues with the experiment at the lab, until an accident makes Angelo call a halt. The project director, employed by a mysterious agency known as The Shop, keeps a secret watch on the progress of the experiment, and soon swaps Angelo's new medications for the old Project 5 "aggression factors".

Jobe acquires telekinetic powers and takes Marnie to the lab to have sex with her in virtual reality; but something goes wrong in the simulation and Marnie cannot move and starts to panic. The experience is so traumatic that she is permanently brain damaged. Jobe's powers and abilities continue to grow, although the treatments seem to be affecting his mental stability, and soon he takes revenge on those who abused him when he was "dumb"; Father McKeen is engulfed in flames, a young man named Jake is tortured by a "lawnmower man" continually mowing his brain, and Jobe directs a real lawnmower to run down Peter's abusive father. Jobe makes the investigating police officers attribute it all to "bizarre accidents".

Jobe believes his final stage of evolution will be to become "pure energy" in the VSI computer mainframe. He plans to enter the VSI computer and from there reach into all the systems of the world, and he promises his "birth" will be signaled by every telephone on the planet ringing simultaneously. The Shop sends a team to capture Jobe, but they are ineffective against Jobe's abilities. Jobe returns to VSI, where he creates millions of virtual insects to attack the guards, and drives straight in. He confronts the director of the project and tortures him before using the lab equipment to enter the mainframe computer. While inside the computer the network connections are disabled and Jobe is trapped in the deceased mainframe looking for an escape code. Angelo primes bombs to destroy the building and joins Jobe in virtual reality to have a minor argument with him. Jobe breaks Angelo's virtual prison and spins around and recovers himself before Jobe easily overpowers Angelo and proceeds to crucify him, then continues to search for a network connection. Peter runs into the building; Jobe still cares for him, and allows Angelo to go free in order to rescue Peter. Jobe finally escapes through a Maintenance Line as the building is destroyed in multiple explosions.

Back at home with Peter, Angelo and Peter's mother (who has implicitly become a romantic interest) are about to leave when their telephone rings, followed by the noise of a second, and then hundreds, all around the globe.


The plot of Stephen King's 1975 short story "The Lawnmower Man" concerns Harold Parkette, who hires "Pastoral Greenery and Outdoor Services Inc." to cut his lawn. The serviceman who arrives to do the job has a lawnmower that mows the lawn by itself while he crawls, naked, behind the mower, eating the grass. The serviceman himself is actually a satyr who worships the Greek god Pan. When Parkette tries to call the police, the mower and its owner ritually kill him as a sacrifice to Pan.

The film's original script, written by director Brett Leonard and producer Gimel Everett, was titled Cyber God and had nothing to do with King's short story. New Line Cinema held the film rights to King's story, and decided to combine Cyber God with some minor elements of King's "The Lawnmower Man". The resulting film, originally titled Stephen King's The Lawnmower Man, differed so much from the source material that King sued the filmmakers to remove his name from the title.

After two court rulings in King's favor, New Line still did not comply and initially released the home video version as Stephen King's The Lawnmower Man. A third ruling granted the author $10,000 per day in compensation and all profits derived from sales until his name was removed.[2] On King's official website, the film is not listed among the films based on his work. The Lawnmower Man was released in Japan under the title Virtual Wars; Fuji Creative's Masao Takiyama is also credited as a co-producer.

The references to the short story include the scene where Jobe kills Peter's father with the lawnmower "Big Red" and the aftermath where the police state that they found part of his remains in the birdbath, as well as the company Terry McKeen works for, Pastoral Greenery.

Aside from using elements of King's "The Lawnmower Man", the film has several elements in common with the 1959 Daniel Keyes novel Flowers for Algernon, which also deals with a mentally disabled man whose intelligence is technologically boosted to genius levels.[3]

The revolutionary computer generated imagery (CGI) created for the film originated from the American developer Angel Studios, later renamed Rockstar San Diego, later known for the Midnight Club series of video games. Though the images were not filmed in real time, they established a perception of virtual reality that worked toward expressing the achievements of actual technology. The supervising sound editor was Frank Serafine, who was hired as a result of his sound creation work in 1982 film Tron [4].

Some of the computer-generated scenes were used in Beyond the Mind's Eye, a video in the Mind's Eye series.


The Lawnmower Man 2: Beyond Cyberspace was released in 1996, and was retitled Lawnmower Man 2: Jobe's War for the video release.

Comic book writer Grant Morrison said in an interview [5] that he was contacted by the owners of the Lawnmower Man franchise in 1995 and asked to write treatments for Lawnmower Man 2 and Lawnmower Man 3. Morrison claims he was asked to "bend the Lawnmower Man series in an X-Men superhero-type direction." Neither of Morrison's script treatments were used and Lawnmower Man 2: Beyond Cyberspace was produced without his involvement.


  1. ^ The Lawnmower Man
  2. ^ "Creepshows the Illustrated Stephen King Movie Guide" Jones, Stephen Titan Books 2001 pp. 75
  3. ^ "Flowers For Algernon Syndrome". 
  4. ^ Tron Wiki
  5. ^

External links

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