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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "What's done is done, and what I've done is right...", 3 Jan. 2005
Amazon Customer (The Zenith City, Duluth, Minnesota) - See all my reviews
There are some movies that are gloriously bad and "The Brain That Wouldn't Die" (a.k.a. "The Head That Wouldn't Die", which is the better title because we are talking an entire head not just a brain) is one of the classics in that particular category. You can get a hold of this film hosted by Elvira, Mistress of the Dark, or skewered by the "Mystery Science Theater 3000" crew, but you will have no problem appreciating this example of bad science fiction cinema. This is a movie that should be on every fan's list of the 10 Worst Science Fiction Movies Ever Made.
Dr. Bill Cortner (Jason call me Herb Evers) is unhappy with the outdated surgery practice by his father, Dr. Cortner (Bruce Brighton), who warns him about higher laws and other nonsense. Bill has a fianc?, Jan Compton (Virginia Leith), who keeps talking about how she cannot wait for them to get married. So when they are in a car accident he rescues Jan's head and takes it back to his private laboratory. There his assistant, Kurt (Leslie Daniels), who has a transplanted arm that has not exactly taken from one of Bill's earlier experiments and who also rails against the doctor's plan to find his fianc? (now the infamous "Jan in a Pan") the perfect body. Bill only has 48-50 hours (you have to love the specificity) to come up with a new body and heads for the nearest strip club. When that does not pan out (hehehehe) he starts stalking women on the street and finds his way to a Beautiful Body contest. But Bill will accept nothing less than the best for Jan and that ends up being Playboy Playmate of the Month for June 1959, Marilyn Hanold.
Meanwhile, Jan would rather be dead than be a detached head; besides, she has some questions about the soundness of the whole procedure, which she discusses with Kurt. The rest of the time she carries on a one sided conversation with whatever is on the other side of the bolted door in the basement (Kurt will not let the cat out of the bag, but we know it is pretty bad and that it is another result of Bill's insane desire to play god). In the bloody climax of this film, the situation comes to a head...
Oh, you just cannot have too much fun at the expense of this film. Director Joseph Green and producer Rex Carlton came up with the story, and you have to admit that any movie that combines a talking disembodied head, a monster behind a locked door, and exotic dancers is a movie that is going to be made. Green even gets a bit creative with the camera in the car accident sequence. However, the dialogue and the strong sexual subtext are what really stand out for me in this film. It is amazing that the actors could say some of these lines with straight faces, but it is rather surprising that the sexuality of the film could be so overt. It is very easy to read this film being all about lust: Jan is ready to make Bill very happy and when he is left with just her head he insists on getting what is clearly an even better body so that they can consummate their destiny.
I will go out on a limb...and say that "The Head That Wouldn't Die" is one of the two worst Science Fiction movies that you have to see, along with "Plan 9 From Outer Space." Certainly they are the only 5 star ratings I have ever given to "bad" films.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Man, I wish they still made schlock-tastic movies like this, 5 Mar. 2006
Daniel Jolley "darkgenius" (Shelby, North Carolina USA) - See all my reviews
You think you really know the woman you love - until you take her decapitated head, put it in a pan, and keep it alive with your own special blend of neck juice. Dr. Bill Cortner (Jason Evers), a new-breed doctor who bravely goes where most doctors (at least, those not named Frankenstein) fear to tread, could have just let his fiancée Jan (Virginia Leith) die after her head gets chopped off in an auto accident. Instead, he grabbed her head, hustled it up to his personal lab, set it up all nice and neat in his own special recipe of life-maintaining gravy, and went out in search of a new body for the woman he loved. But does Peggy appreciate everything Bill has done for her? Nooooo. Not one bit. All she does is turn into the mouth that wouldn't shut up and makes "you should have let me die" her new mantra. Apparently, all of her nice qualities were located in her torso because she turns into a vengeful little spitfire who proclaims herself the leader of the doctor's army of mutant creations (all one of them). In her defense, Dr. Cortner is one weird dude with a pretty disturbing hairstyle, but she knew that before she dropped 95% of her body mass. Maybe she's just mad that the selective doctor is seeking an upgrade model for her new body, but you can hardly blame the guy for that. Why settle for pancakes when you can have the whole hungry man's breakfast?
The Brain That Wouldn't Die is everything a campy cult classic should be, with its radical experimental medicine, bloody amputations, a talking decapitated head, a deformed monster, and a really cheap set. It even features some nice point-of-view shots that earn it bonus points in my book. The filmmakers may have had a hard time even remembering the name of the film (it's listed as The Head That Wouldn't Die in the end credits), but The Brain That Wouldn't Die is nothing less than schlock-tastic. Don't buy the regular DVD of the film, though, not when you can get the original film itself included alongside the hilariously heckled version on the Mystery Science Theater 3000 DVD release.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Horror or Comedy?, 16 Sept. 2008
This is one of the scariest and funniest and campiest horror/monster movies I have ever seen. The title sort of says it all - a mad scientist keeps a brain alive and locked in a closet even after its body is destroyed. Of course things go horribly wrong for the doctor and anyone unlucky enough to get near him. The acting is just as good as it needs to be and the director knew he was just putting together a screamer so he just has fun with it. The result is a great early 1960s popcorn flick that I could watch again and again.
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Brain That Wouldn't Die [DVD] [1959] [US Import] [NTSC]
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