The Brain That Wouldn't Die

Year Of Production: 1959 - Filmed in thirteen days for around $125,000.
Year Of Release: 1962
Running Time: 85 Minutes
DVD Released By: Synapse
Directed By: Joseph Green
Writing Credits: Rex Carlton, Joseph Green
Filming Location: Tarrytown, New York

Starring: Jason Evers, Virginia Leith, Leslie Daniels, Adele Lamont, Bonnie Sharie, Paula Maurice, Marilyn Hanold, Bruce Brighton

Tagline 1: Alive...without a body...fed by an unspeakable horror from hell!

Tagline 2: It's madness, not science!

Alternate Titles:
The Head That Wouldn't Die (1962)

Interesting Bits of Trivia:
Original plans were for last reel to be in color, with the doctor's head being cut off. Scenes were filmed with rats menacing the head.  There were also several mistakes in this film which included the following:  The film ends with the title "The Head that Wouldn't Die" instead of "The Brain that Wouldn't Die".  After Kurt has his arm ripped off by the beast in the closet he stumbles through the house, smearing blood on everything, including the chair in the entryway. However, when the doctor is bringing in his newest "patient" she sits in this chair, which is now entirely free of blood.  At the end of the movie, it is obvious that the monster's mask is tied in the back.  During the "Body Beautiful" contest, the MC announces that there are five finalists, but he only brings out four.  At the end of the film in the killing of the doctor by the monster, the latex skull cap on the monster is ripped and hanging loose and you can see Eddie Carmel's hair underneath!




Cast Of Characters
Dr. Bill Cortner: Bill is a brilliant doctor who's been working on a way to bring the dead back to life, transplant limbs and organs, and all in all make the world a better place to live in.  Unfortunately, his experiments didn't all go as planned, and one of them got downright ugly.  There's a scene in here where his hair is sticking up and he's got a really high forehead and he ends up looking like Eraserhead.

Jan Compton: Well she was pretty and sweet until she lost her head in a car accident.  After that she went on this really bad PMS kick.  Whatever Bill juiced her up with, it gave her mental powers and allowed her to control this freak in the closet.  Who's the freak in the closet you may ask?  Well it ain't who you might expect, I can tell you that much.  I will tell you that the freak in the closet does look like someone you may well recognize.  Read on to find out who.

Kurt: He's Bill's assistant.  Before he was Bill's assistant, he was a surgeon himself.  Unfortunately, an accident in the lab caused him to lose his arm.  Bill's experiments gave him a chance to have his arm replaced, but unfortunately for him, the replacement arm looked more like a leg with a foot on the end.  He starts out being a pretty good guy, and ends up being a jerk, which is kinda weird, but I guess if I had to pick my nose with a big toe, I'd be kinda jerky too.

Dr. Cortner:  Man is he a pain in the butt.  He's Bill's father and like Bill, he's also a surgeon.  He's only in this movie at the beginning and all he does is bitch at Bill about how his experiments are unethical and about how he shouldn't be playing god.  I'm glad he wasn't in it long because the philosophical discussions he was having with Bill were really bogging down the movie.  I think he should just take a laxative and chill out for a while in the can with a good book.  Might give him a more easy going outlook on life.




The Plot
Dr. Bill Cortner has developed a way to not only bring the dead back to life, but to allow bodies to receive organ and limb transplants without rejecting them.  His experiments get put into full practice however when his fiance is decapitated in a car accident.  He manages to bring her severed head back to life and then goes out looking for a new body to attach the head to.  Will his twisted plan come to fruition?  Will another poor girl die so that Jan can have a new body?  Will the thing in the closet ever stop banging it's head on the door?  What about poor Kurt and his foot lookin' hand?  And whatever will become of poor Thelma Lou?  Ok, so there isn't actually a Thelma Lou.  But wouldn't it have been cool if there had been?



What The Hell???
1. "Let me die!  Let me die!"  Those are the first words we hear as we start the movie.  Unfortunately this cool opening is followed by some cheesy lookin' Twilight Zone style credits.  Once the credits are done and overwith, we open the movie in an operating room.  A doctor has just lost his patient. So the patient is laying there dead and as I'm watching this scene, I just noticed something.  The nurse / anesthesiologist is holding the patient's wrist with one hand and holding the breathing mask over his face with the other.  Now tell me somethin' here.  WHY?!?!?  The guy's dead!  I don't think he needs someone holding his hand and I damn sure know he doesn't need to breathe anymore.  Anyway, after the doctor goes off on some rambling philosophical trip about how he didn't save his patient, the other doctor, who happens to be the guys son, asks his father if they can try things his way now.  Hell, we're only two and a half minutes into the movie and it's already starting to feel like Re-Animator.  This looks like it just might be pretty cool.

2.  The doctor's son Bill convinces him to let him go ahead with his experiments on the corpse.  Funny thing is though, for a corpse, this guy sure breathes a lot.  Seriously, you can watch his chest and stomach go up and down and up and down.  It's going up and down so much it's almost making me seasick.  It is funny though.

3. Now they're gonna open this guy's chest cavity and massage the heart while the other guy works on the brain.  When old Dr. Cortner cuts into the guys chest, it looks more like he's cutting a cake.  Anyway, somehow Bill managed to get into the guy's head and expose his brain without ever really touching him.  No wonder the guy died, apparently his skull was half missing to start with.  Anyway, Bill stimulates the guy's brain with electric shocks and actually brings the guy back to life.  Now that it's all over, they're closing the guy up.  Old Dr. Cortner is stitching the chest closed.  Now, I'm no doctor here, but don't you have to cut the guy's chest cavity open and split his ribs apart to do a heart massage?  I think that would take a lot more effort to close up than just throwing a few stitches in there.  Anyway, now that the operation's all over with, we get to listen to Bill and old Dr. Cortner have this big philosophical conversation about the ethics of his methods.  This whole conversation get's really old by the time it's over.

Reviewer's Note: One of my readers, Tony Conigliaro, who's a paramedic wrote to me and let me know that an open cardiac massage is actually performed by making an incision under the sternum, cutting through the diaphragm and then inserting your hand through the incision up under the rib cage where you proceed to squeeze the cardiac muscle.  Thanks to Tony for sending me that information.  See, I told you all I wasn't a doctor.

4. The nurse Jan is not just a nurse, she's also Bill's main squeeze and fiance.  After the operation is all over, Jan and Bill are heading out to this cabin that his family owns in the mountains.  They're stopped by a nurse who gives the doctor a message that something terrible has happened at the cabin and that he needs to get there right away.  See, the cabin is where he does all his experimentin' and stuff.  So anyway, on the way up there, he starts speeding up and going faster and faster.  Frankly he's driving like an idiot.  Anyway, he wrecks the car and although he gets tossed out of the car and ends up with just some bruised ribs, his girlfriend wasn't so lucky.  She sorta, you know, lost her head.  He retrieves it from the car and wraps it up in his coat and then goes running off towards the house.  Fortunately, they were within running distance when he stacked it.  You know what they say about most accidents happening within five miles of home.

5. DAMN!  That ain't no cabin, that's a freakin mansion!  What an awesome house!  He goes banging on the door and his assistant Kurt answers it.  He goes running in and even though Kurt is trying to tell him about the accident that happened there earlier, Bill won't listen.  His only concern is getting Jan's head hooked up to some tubes and electrodes and what not so he can save her life.  I'm wondering what the point is.  I mean, what are you gonna do with a talking head?  I guess you could start your own sideshow or something.

6. She's kind of unconscious, but she's mumbling.  I'm wondering how the hell she's supposed to be talking with no lungs to push the air and probably not much of a throat left.  Bill is planning on finding her a new body so that he can transplant Jan's head onto it.  Turns out also, that Kurt was one of Bill's experiments.  Seems that he lost his arm and the good doctor transplanted him a new one.  Unfortunately for Kurt though, something went wrong, and he ended up with a hand that looked more like a gnarly old foot.  Hell maybe it was a foot and it was dark in the operating room so Bill didn't notice or something.  God, wouldn't that be nasty?  Having athlete's hand?  Imagine the smell.
7.  Kurt convinces Bill to look in the closet before he leaves to find a new body for Jan.  Bill relents and heads off to the closet.  This is where I paused the movie so I could catch up on my typing.  I haven't seen this movie since I was a kid and I barely remember it at all.  I wonder what's in the closet?  Let's unpause the movie and find out.  Can you feel the tension?  I sure can.  Here we go!  AWWWWWWW MAN!!!  I feel so cheated!  He opened up this little view window in the door and this thing that sounded like a hobgoblin with a sinus infection started makin' all kinds of racket.  BUT THEY DIDN'T SHOW IT!!!  What a gyp man!

8.  So the doctor tells Kurt to keep it locked up in the closet while he goes out and finds a body for Jan.  He heads off to the local, well, it's not really a strip bar because the girl who's dancing seductively to slow music doesn't actually strip or anything.  Kinda reminds me of the place that one of the martians went to in Mars Needs Women.  So the doctor watches this girl dance, and then while the doctor sits down, she goes into what looks like a broom closet and changes into a normal dress.  She comes out and sits down with him and then she gets up and walks back into the broom closet which actually turns out to be her dressing room.  He follows her in there and she gives him this whole rap about how she can either hand out with the stiffs in the front or she can hang out with her friends in the dressing room.  I'm not sure why he's farting around with this girl when time is so essential.  Why don't he just get her back to the house and do what he needs to do?  Maybe after he's done, he can cut off Kurt's head and replace it with this chick's.  Then he can feel pretty, oh so pretty...

9.  While the doctor and the floozy are are hangin' out in the dressing room this other chick from the front who also happens to be one of the dancers, comes back in the dressing room.  She messes the whole thing up and the doctor ends up leaving.  After he leaves the two girls get into an argument, and after the second girl makes a nasty comment to the first one, the first one slaps her.  Now picture this.  Actually you don't have to picture it because I'm going to use it for my clip.  I haven't laughed this hard at anything in a long time.  The first girl winds up to slap the second.  The camera cuts to a close up of the second girls head and face.  Suddenly, an arms comes into the shot and slaps the second girl, REALLY HARD!!!!  Oh man it was awesome!  It was so funny that I backed it up and watched it about four times.  It's just one of those Oh my god! moments.  Anyway, I noticed something odd while I was rewatching it so I stepped through it frame by frame.  The arm that came in and slapped this chick wasn't the first girls arm at all.  In fact, it wasn't even a woman's arm!  It was a very hairy man's arm with a great big ham hock of a hand attached to the end of it.  Oh man, I'm still laughing!  So the two girls end up having this cat fight on the floor, and as the scene ends, the camera cuts to a shot of two wall hangings on the wall with cats in them, and you hear this 'meow' sound.  Not a cat sound, but literally someone saying 'meow'!!!  God, I think I hurt myself I was laughing so hard!
10. Back to the lab, now that I can finally breathe again, and we find Jan in the dish still.   She's finally conscious, and starts lookin' around the joint.  Now she's talking to whatever's in the closet, and she's finally using a raspy weird voice instead of a real one.  Not that it matters since she shouldn't be able to talk anyway, but still, at least it seems more normal for her situation.  Whatever's in the closet isn't talking back to her by the way.  It just sounds like whatever it is, is banging it's head against the door.  She's telling the thing in the closet how she hates the doctor for what he's done to her, and how together, they can get revenge on him.  The thing in the closet just keeps banging it's head on the door.  I keep picturing something like Sloth from The Goonies chained up in there or something.  Like they'll open the door and the thing will be like, "Baby, Ruth, Baby, Ruth."
11. Kurt hears stuff goin' on through the door and finally gets up enough nerve to walk in there.  Jan is talking to Kurt now.  He's telling her that locked behind that door, is the sum total of Bill's mistakes.  They're having this conversation now about the doctor's work and how he replaced Kurt's arm time after time, but none of them ever turned out right.  They always ended up warped and twisted.  He used to be a surgeon, but after an accident in the laboratory, he had to have his arm amputated.  Jan understands why Kurt has been helping him.  After he explains that the new serum the doctor developed and is pumping into her head, will stop her tissues from rejecting the new body.  She tells him that the serum is having results that he never dreamed of.  That it's given her power and that her brain burns with it.  She also tells him that she's in contact with that thing in the closet and she starts talking to it and it starts pushing hard on the door like it's going to break out.  Kurt gets a little intelligence at this point, freaks out, and runs out of the room.  Frankly, if I was him, I'd just turn off the equipment and let her go.
12.  The doctor goes out the next day, driving the streets of town, stalking women, and looking for the girl who's gonna donate her body to science.  He finally meets up with one that he knows, but just as they're about to leave and go back to his place, a friend of hers comes up and asks for a ride to a beauty contest she's going to see.  Naturally, it's the Miss Body Beautiful contest.  While they're there, the friend of his tells him about this girl who has the nicest body she's ever seen, and that she's always locked up in her art studio posing for paintings.  He decides that that's he one he's going to use.  If he was Fuad Ramses, he'd have a body by now.  Fuad was good at finding victims.
13.  Back in the lab, Jan is talking to the thing in the closet, telling it how the doctor intends on killing someone to get her a new body and about how they have to stop him.  The thing in the closet just keeps banging it's head on the door.  No wonder it's so angry all the time.  It must have a hell of a headache by now.
14.  The doctor arrives at the girls studio where he finds her in a leopardskin bikini posing for some middle aged "photography" students.  Bill comes in and sits down.  Man, this girl is one serious bitch.  She just told him that she doesn't date men and that she hates all men because of what one did to her once.  I assume she got raped or something.  Oh man, apparently the guy who hurt her burned the side of her face or did something freaky to her and scarred her up pretty bad.  Bill convinces her that he can help her and make her beautiful again.  He just told her that he'll take her back to the house and help her there.  He finally convinces her to go with him back to the house and manages to stop her from telling anyone that she's leaving with him.  Well he found the body, now he just has to get her back and get it done before Jan manages to get the thing in the closet out into the light of day.  That would be bad.  Somehow, I have the feeling though we're gonna get to see this thing by the time the movie's over.  Why do I have that feeling you may ask?  Well, it could be because it said something about it on the back of the box.  That was my first clue anyway.

15.  Back in the lab, Jan is still trying to get the thing in the closet to bust out.  She keeps talking to it and saying how she has to see how horrible it is and that it couldn't compare to the horror that she has become.  It bangs it's head on the door some more and then she tells it to quiet down because she hears someone coming.  It's Kurt.  He brought the beastie some food.  Wasn't that thoughtful of him?  He's all defensive now and being a jerk.  He says he's not afraid of the thing in the closet, or of her for that matter.  He's being all mean now for some reason.  He's telling her now that the thing in the closet has mutated from what it was when it first came back to life.  I'm not sure why he's being so mean to her.  It's sure a change in character all of a sudden.

16.  WHOAH!  Kurt was over by the door, and when he unlocked the window in the door to feed the creature, it reached out this massive hand and grabbed his arm.  It pulled his arm in through the window and ripped it clean off.  That was his good arm by the way.  The only really stupid thing about this is that it's not squirting blood all over the place.  His lab coat is bloody, but that's about it.  So Kurt meanders on out and tries to escape, but he can't open the door with his gnarly hand, so he wanders back in where Jan is and dies on the floor in front of her.  That creature in the closet has pretty big hands.  I wonder if they got Tor Johnson locked up in there or something?  This whole thing kinda reminds me of that old saying about ripping somebody's arm off and beating them with the wet end.  Anyway, gotta pause the movie for a sec.  I need some corn nuts.  All this blood has me feeling a bit snacky.

17.  Ok, got my ranch flavored corn nuts now which my wife Sharon just stole half of.  Back to the movie.  Bill and the model just got back to the house.  Bill has her sit down and he heads off down into the lab where he finds Kurt dead on the floor.  Kurt's arm is supposed to be ripped off, but his lab coat is all buttoned up and you can totally see his arm bulging out underneath it.  So what's Bill's reaction to all this?  He covers up Kurt's body, and makes up two shots of whiskey for him and the model chick Doris.  He slips a mickey in Doris's drink and she downs it like a sailor on shore leave.  You can tell this chick drinks a lot.  When she downed the whiskey, she didn't even make The Face.  Anyway, the mickey works and she passes out.  But before she does, she makes the brilliant statement, "Bill, you put something in my drink, didn't you?"  It's a good thing this chick is losing her head, because I don't think there was much in it to start with.

18.  Bill throws her on the table and says to Jan that he has to hurry because the drug will wear off soon.  Well Mr. Rocket Scientist, she's laying unconscious on the table.  Why the hell don't you just shoot her up with something extra to keep her that way?  Jeez, for a smart guy, this guy ain't too smart.
19.  Jan tells him that he can't do this and that he must be stopped.  Finally he gets sick of listening to her and tapes her mouth shut.  My wife Sharon is all like, "That's what the other guy should have done."  Unfortunately, Kurt didn't seem like the sharpest pencil in the box either.
20.  On to the barbeque flavored corn nuts now as Bill is preparing for the operation.  Jan is seriously ticked off now and is communicating telepathically with the thing in the closet.  Bill is just about to cut into Doris when the beast starts banging on the door again.  He stops and like a complete idiot, walks over to the door and stands in front of it with his back to it looking back at the operating table.  The window in the door opens, and a hand as big as his whole head reaches out for him.   It grabs him by the head and pulls him back into the door.  The door comes off and we finally get to see this freak of nature.  It does look like Sloth from The Goonies!!!  It tosses Bill around like a rag doll before finally biting a big chunk off his neck.  The lab caught on fire during the fight and as it burned, the freak picked up Doris off the table and carried her out of the lab.  The movie ends with Doris saying to Bill, "I told you to let me die."  That's it, movie's over.  I still got some corn nuts left to see me through the finish work though.  Isn't that cool?



Best Quote

"Who's to tell me to blow if I don't want to.  This is my dressing room too, remember?"

 

- This is cat fight girl number two talking to cat fight girl number one.  This line is totally funny when taken out of context. - (Reviewer's Note: Cat fight girl number two looked like some kind of a transsexual.  She was very manly looking.  I guess that's why it took a manly hand to give her that bitch slappin' she got.)




Video Clip
When prompted, enter bmovie for the username and central for the password.

The Brain That Wouldn't Die
Here's the infamous cat fight scene I told you about. When you watch it, you'll know why I was laughing so hard. The very end of the clip is hilarious!



The Conclusion
After the last movie I reviewed, Hercules In The Haunted World, I didn't know if I ever wanted to review another movie ever again.  I took a week off from reviewing to get my head together and then I had the wonderful fortune to go from a movie as horrible as the last one, to a movie as great as this one.

I remember seeing this movie as a kid, but I only remembered just a tiny bit of it.  I've actually owned this movie for a long time now on a Diamond release DVD, but I had never watched it.  When it came time to do this review, I put the DVD in and the quality was just horrible.  The sound and visual quality of the Diamond release stunk worse than a port-a-potty in the summertime.  I knew I couldn't do a review from such horrible source material, because I'd never get a good screenshot or a good video clip out of it, so I put this review on hold while I ordered the Synapse release DVD of it.  The Synapse release is a must have.  The video quality is beyond excellent, the audio quality is superb, and the packaging is well done and has some great liner notes.  If you're going to buy this movie, you really have to have this particular release from Synapse, otherwise you just won't be able to enjoy it and you'll probably end up feeling like you've been ripped off.

Now to the movie...

The acting was good, though some of it could have been a bit better.  The guy who played Bill, Jason Evers, was a pretty odd choice of casting.  Watching him play this part was a little like trying to get a size thirteen foot into a size twelve shoe.  You can do it, but it won't be the most comfortable fit in the world.  He's supposed to be this handsome and brilliant young doctor, but he's not all that handsome, and sometimes he doesn't seem overly intelligent either.  I can't put the blame entirely on him though, as he could only play what was written for him.  I think a little better writing for his character would have made him a little more enjoyable to watch.

Jan was played by Virginia Leith and did quite a good job of playing a disembodied head.  She portrayed her emotions more than adequately and did a great job with the material overall.  Again though, her part could have been better written.  I think if I was in her situation, I wouldn't be looking for revenge.  I'd just want to get my head back onto a working body as quickly as possible, and I'd be doing everything in my power to cooperate with anyone who could help make that happen.

Kurt's character was fine until he made that sudden switchover from meek and scared to aggressive and harsh.  That was a completely unexplained and unnecessary switch in his personality that didn't make a whole lot of sense.  There really wasn't any point to making him like that all of a sudden except to make his death a little easier for the average audience member to take.  Basically make people dislike him right before he bites it.

At this point, I'd like to send out a thanks to Ron in Texas.  If not for the great fan letter he sent me in which he talked about this movie, I probably wouldn't have gotten around to reviewing this film for quite some time.  I ended up liking this movie a lot more than I thought I would, and it was a great pleasure to do this review.

When all is said and done, the only real problem with this movie were some minor complaints about the writing, but other than that, everything else was great, and I'm very happy to award this film...

B-Movie Central's Rating: 4½ Bees

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