The Brain That Wouldn't Die
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The Brain That Wouldn't Die

Some movies inherently are difficult to assign a specific grade. As an expectation hard to any critique a movie the entire review is reduced to an overly simplistic designation of quality whether it be some stars, a letter grade or the trademarked binary judgment of "thumbs-up or thumbs down. While many films are conducive to such a grading system, many for which it just doesn’t work. Personally, I found the latest release of the 1962 movie, ‘The Brain That Wouldn’t Die.' Released in 1962 I remember going to the movie theater to watch this as part of a Saturday afternoon matinee. Back then it was long before the explosion of media that could inundate us with advertisements. How interest in the film would be stalked by a poster in the theater informing us of next would be featured. For this film, the poster was a pretty young woman, her head wrapped in bandages in her eyes wide open in terror. It is sitting in a trade connected to a myriad of strange electronic equipment. Placed about the large block lettering of the title there is no ambiguity as to what the movie was about. This movie was the intersection of several major cinematic archetypes the mad scientist, misuse of technological advances and a twisted expression a romantic obsession. This history of the difficulty in assigning a specific grade to a movie comes in. From a technical perspective films like this were indubitably not up to the industrial, artistic standards the audience has come to expect. The thing is these are not our major concerns as reset net familiar old theater passing the time on an afternoon free from school. He wanted to have fun and as corny as these movies that were they provided it did good measure. Now many of these movies have had releases and DVD and are some have even been remastered by high-definition. The Brain That Wouldn’t Die is one of the latest releases from Shout Entertainment. Their catalog of Blu-ray and DVD releases is a veritable collection of childhood memories for many of us. The lines of television series are the best of almost any distributor in the films they released represent some of our fondest memories the beginning of our love affair with movies.

Very few evil overlords will mad scientists start out that way, circumstances would have to accumulate to achieve that result. In the case of Dr. Bill Cortner (Jason Evers), his life was dedicated to diligent study that would culminate with him becoming one of the most successful surgeons of his time. As is frequently the case with someone who has reached the pinnacle of his career has shrouded him with a degree of hubris that he would find it impossible to deny. This pushed him to experiment with methods and techniques far beyond those considered acceptable. The opportunity to use his new technology came about in a patient of his father’s was pronounced dead in the emergency room Dr. Cortner managed to save the patient using one of his most daring experimental techniques. Little did he realize that he would have a far more personal incentive to perfect that he is working on. His fiancé Jan Compton (Virginia Leith) was involved in the terrible car accident that left her decapitated. Cortner gathers up to separate head and rushes to his laboratory. Upon arriving at his laboratory, he placed Jan’s head in a tray of nutrients hooking it up to monitoring devices; The head regains consciousness. A sight that was entertainingly enjoyable to the ten-year-old watching or that inner child that wants to return to when cinematic excellence was less important than good old fashion escapism.

Doc Cortner now is faced with a unique conundrum; his betrothed is nothing more than a head. He might be a mad scientist, but Cortner is after al a man an there are fundamental requirements better served with a complete body. As any researcher who routinely deals decapitated patients realizes obtaining a complete body donation is exceedingly troublesome especially when there are added constraints such as attractiveness and the fact that a body still living before the commencement of the attachment improves the viability of the subject. Cortner realizes that there is also a practical concern not formally part of the procedural protocol is required; the donor should be some whose sudden disappearance will not overly involve the authorities. Cortner begins his search in a strip joint where he could readily assess the aesthetics of the potential donor. After all, it will be a major part of his future wife.

The progressive aspect of this story is it cares enough to demonstrate some measure of concern for the disembodied head. Jan is sufficiently aware of how dire her condition is but mostly she is in a world entirely consisting of unrelenting pain. Jan has inexplicably developed psychic abilities and telepathically compels with a disfigured creature held captive in an adjacent room to kill the scientist. The lab assistant, Kurt (Anthony La Penna) is killed by the creature but conveniently only after a few chores were completed. The creature is released thanks to the lock being carelessly left undone. It is so difficult to find competent minions to assist with immoral research. Rather than go outside looking for a body replacement the doctor decides to have one come willingly. He brings a’ figure model,' Doris Powell (Adele Lamont) home with him. She has a beautiful body, but her face has been tragically scarred. Cortner lures her with the promise of plastic surgery.

Has you can see by this appraisal numerous plot holes plague the script the least of which is how Jan’s head suddenly developed telepathy and mind control. But as previously mentioned this movie was not intended for the erudite aficionados of cinematic artistry. It was meant to offer a brief escape from the doldrums of the week and let the viewer kick back and have a little bit of fun. In fact the more you think of the film, the less you will be able to enjoy it. Shout Entertainment has a well-deserved reputation for respecting the fans. Whether it is providing complete sets of an entire television series or restoring a cult classic film to a pristine condition, they have never disappointed me in the quality of their releases. The high definition video required for a Blu-ray edition was made possible by utilizing the original 35mm negatives makes for an experience better than he have in the theaters,

bullet-High Definition (1080p) transfer from the negative – restored to its uncut version (1.66:1)
bullet-Mystery Science Theater 3000 episode – "The Brain That Wouldn’t Die" (in Standard Definition)
bullet-Audio Commentary with film historian and author Steve Haberman and writer Tony Sasso
bullet-Alternate Scene from the International Cut
bullet-Theatrical Trailer
bullet-Still Gallery

Posted 12/21/2015            10/02/2017

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