In addition to the usual reviews and comments you would find on a horror movie blog, this is also a document of the wonderfully vast horror movie section of the video store I worked at in my youth.

Tuesday, April 2, 2024

Horror Movie Guide: The Brain That Wouldn't Die

The next film in the Guide is perhaps one of the most recognized B-movies in existence, and yet one I had never seen - Joseph Green's 1962 movie The Brain That Wouldn't Die. I, and I am sure you, at least know the iconic image of actress Virginia Leith's head in a tray hooked up to various amounts of rigging and equipment. I feel I must have seen the MST3K episode at some point, but it was so long ago now, who knows?

After his girlfriend Jan (Leith) is decapitated in a road accident, a maverick surgeon Dr. Cortner (Jason Evers) keeps her head alive using his new experimental transplant procedure.

So yes this is primarily what I expected. I find the majority of these weird curiosities of the atomic age are "come up with a good hook or title" and then just pad the rest to make it feature length. What am I saying, that is the nature of most B-movies in general, isn't it? Nevertheless, The Brain That Wouldn't Die does go back and forth between lab scenes to mostly superfluous burlesque shows and beauty pageants that the good Doctor is cruising for new subjects.

Virginia Leith as Jan in The Brain That Wouldn't Die.

As good a surgeon as Cortner must have been, he was a shit driver, as that inciting accident was totally avoidable and not even serious from what I could tell. Then I had to chuckle that Cortner's first reaction to seeing his dead girlfriend was to pick up her head and run with it. Then again, that is the inherent nature of TBTWD really. Run with it. I mean, that cat fight scene? You might as well had Jerry Lewis come in and mug to the camera.

It makes me sad that Leith - whom was actually "the Girl" in Stanley Kubrick's debut film Fear & Desire that I saw for the first time recently - had such a terrible time on this picture that she wouldn't even come back for post. That may explain the ghoulish fake head that appears in the long shots of the lab.

I have to admit that I was shocked to see boobies in a film from the early sixties, but I guess that is what Tubi meant by "uncensored". With my expectations tempered, I guess my only disappointment was that after all that talk of the abomination locked behind the door, it turned out to just be a dude in a mask -  think Richard Kiel crossed with Michael Berryman. And that ending - quite abrupt!

The Guide didn't seem to think much of it, but that is to be expected. 

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