DVD Movie Guide @ dvdmg.com
Review Archive:  # | A-C | D-F | G-I | J-L | M-O | P-R | S-U | V-Z | Viewer Ratings | Main


Joseph Green
Herb Evers, Virginia Leith, Leslie Daniel
Writing Credits:
Joseph Green

A doctor experimenting with transplant techniques keeps his girlfriend's head alive when she is decapitated in a car crash, then goes hunting for a new body.

Rated NR

Aspect Ratio: 1.66:1
English DTS-HD MA Monaural
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 82 min.
Price: $26.99
Release Date: 12/22/2015

• Audio Commentary with Film Historians Steve Haberman and Tony Sasso
Mystery Science Theater 3000 Episode
• Alternate Model Footage
• Photo Gallery
• Trailer


Panasonic TC-P60VT60 60-Inch 1080p 600Hz 3D Smart Plasma HDTV; Sony STR-DG1200 7.1 Channel Receiver; Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.


[an error occurred while processing this directive]

The Brain That Wouldn't Die [Blu-Ray] (1962)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (December 6, 2015)

For an experience in goofy Cold War-era sci-fi horror, we go to 1962’s The Brain That Wouldn’t Die. Dr. Bill Cortner (Herb Evers) performs potentially unethical experiments related to human transplants.

Before too long, Bill needs these techniques for his own personal benefit. Bill’s girlfriend Jan Compton (Virginia Leith) gets decapitated in a car accident, but Bill keeps her severed head alive as he pursues a new “host body” for transplantation.

If I wanted, I could pick apart Brain as a gaudy example of poor filmmaking. Virtually nothing about the movie succeeds in terms of competent cinema, and I could find plenty of problems to discuss.

That seems somewhat pointless in this case, though. With a film as absurd and poorly-made as Brain, I don’t think it makes a ton of sense to dig into all its cinematic sins. Virtually nothing about the movie works in a traditional manner.

For a film like this, I think the primary question becomes whether or not the movie delivers any form of entertainment. Unless it aspired to be terrible, Brain definitely flops in terms of whatever original goals it may have aspired to achieved.

That said, it’s unclear how serious the filmmakers wanted us to take the story – “not very” would be my guess – but I still don’t think they intended to create a flick with no appeal past camp value. Did “hate viewing” exist in the much less ironic world of the late 1950s? I don’t know, but I doubt Brain was made solely as a goofy John Waters-style piece of kitsch.

If it did attempt that, it flopped. Brain offers incompetent cinema with no sense of wit or irony; it just shows what happens when you combine a tremendously low budget and a collection of untalented people.

This means any potential entertainment stems from the “so bad it’s good” domain. Unfortunately, Brain doesn’t work in that vein, as it just seems slow and tedious.

Oh, the flick does offer the occasional campy laugh. Probably the most obvious filmmakers’ acknowledgement of the movie’s absurdity comes during a skirmish between two strippers who aspire to bonk Dr. Bill. As they wrangle, the movie cuts to an image of feline art and overdubs a “meow” sound – I doubt a clearer reference to a catfight existed back in this film’s era.

Outside of a goofy moment or two such as this, though, Brain just seems dull and monotonous. It’s not entertaining on its own merits and it never becomes delightfully absurd. With about 10 minutes of story spread across 82 minutes, the movie simply ends up as a sluggish, monotonous tale without any entertainment value.

The Blu-ray Grades: Picture C/ Audio C-/ Bonus B-

The Brain That Wouldn’t Die appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.66:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. The movie came with an up and down presentation.

For the most part, sharpness seemed pretty good. A little softness cropped up at times, but the majority of the film displayed solid clarity and accuracy. I saw no examples of shimmering or jaggies, and edge haloes remained absent.

Blacks looked positive, as they showed good darkness and depth. Shadows also provided fairly smooth, clear visuals.

Brain fell to “C”-level due to print flaws. The movie displayed quite a few specks, marks, blotches and spots. It also came with a couple of skips, such as one at 9:52 that appeared to result from a brief missing piece of film. If Brain got a good cleaning, it’d be a strong transfer. This one looked too dirty to get a high mark, though.

I also felt the movie’s DTS-HD MA monaural audio seemed erratic. Most speech came across as fairly natural, but more than a few exceptions occurred. Lines could come across as thin and reedy at times, and a few scenes suffered from degraded audio across the board. In those segments, all the elements appeared distant and tinny.

However, that only happened a couple of times. Otherwise, music was decent; the score lacked much range but seemed fairly full. Effects seemed about the same, as they became acceptably clear and concise most of the time.

The source didn’t seem to be in great shape, unfortunately. I heard a persistent layer or hiss as well as hum and some pops. Even when I considered the movie’s age and origins, this felt like a problematic soundtrack.

When we shift to extras, we open with an audio commentary from film historians Steve Haberman and Tony Sasso. Both sit together for a running, screen-specific look at cast and crew, story elements, themes and interpretation, and production details.

Sasso and Haberman combine to give us a moderately engaging chat but not one that seems especially informative. Neither appears to know a lot about the movie’s history or production; they offer a few basics but don’t shed a ton of light on those elements.

This means they mostly either crack on the film or dig into interpretation. Some of the thoughts about themes and meaning seem serious, but much of it comes across as tongue in cheek. In the end, the chat has its moments but lacks a lot of substance.

Next we find an episode of Mystery Science Theater 3000. In this one-hour, 32-minute and 25-second program, they follow the usual format where Mike and his robot pals watch a bad movie - Brain That Wouldn’t Die, natch – and make snarky comments. I admit I’m not a fan of the format, but fans will enjoy this addition to the set.

The disc includes Alternate Model Footage. The one-minute, 26-second segment gives us a variation on the scene where Doris poses for photographers; intended for non-US audiences, this one lets us see some nudity. And that’s fine with me. It lacks audio, but who cares?

In addition to the film’s trailer, we locate a Photo Gallery. Presented as a running three-minute, 46-second reel, it shows 46 stills that mix images from the shoot, publicity pictures and advertising elements. This becomes a decent collection.

Some silly old movies offer campy entertainment, but The Brain That Wouldn’t Die fails on all levels. It’s not fun or enjoyable in any way, as it becomes a plodding, illogical piece without merit. The Blu-ray offers erratic picture and audio along with a decent set of bonus features. I guess Brain enjoys a cult audience, but I can’t figure out why.

Viewer Film Ratings: 1 Stars Number of Votes: 1
0 3:
View Averages for all rated titles.

Review Archive:  # | A-C | D-F | G-I | J-L | M-O | P-R | S-U | V-Z | Viewer Ratings | Main