Brain Damage

January 28, 2012 8 Min Read

Review by: Fusion3600

Plot: What’s it about?

When Brian (Rick Herbst) wakes up one morning to discover his pillow covered with blood, he knows this morning will different from all the others. Brian has been sick and resting in bed, but this blood covered pillow business seems insane, and the source is soon located. The blood has come from a hole in the back of Brian’s neck, which appears to be the result of a bite of some manner. Then, Brian’s room is flooded by a strange blue liquid and his ceiling suddenly morphs into a gigantic eyeball, of all things. As if these events were not enough, Brian soon finds out just what caused that bite, a small worm like creature with the cutest eyes. The creature’s name is Aylmer, and he has the sweetest voice and a hook, he has injected Brian with a hallucinogenic fluid, which caused the whole eyeball incident. Of course Brian wants more of the special fluid, but Aylmer has a demand for his goods. In order to attain more of that wonderful fluid, Brian must feed Aylmer his favorite food, human brains. Brian is hooked already it seems, since he agrees, but how far will Brian’s need for this strange fluid become, and will he ever be able to give it up?

This is one of the most insane, creative, and fun horror movies of all time, although I am not sure if it qualifies as true horror. In any case, the creature effects and blood content seem to be enough to warrant an inclusion, even if the movie seems more like a slapstick comedy at times. But come on, nothing goes better with slapstick than a small worm that eats human brains and dispenses hallucinogenic fluids, right? Of course the storyline seems to be a message about the dangers of addiction and the extremes it can send people to, but that’s not crammed down your throat. I mean, who can listen to an anti-drug message when there’s blood splashing across the screen and some wicked creatures are dancing about? The make-up effects in this movie are awesome, as are the creature effects, which might look a little out there, but are very effective. Some very strange and disturbing, as well as hilarious scenes of gore are also found in the film, all of which provide all the elements you could want from a movie like this. I recommend this film and disc highly, and those who follow the genre will want to add this one to their collections right away.

This film was written and directed by Frank Henenlotter, who has become an icon in horror even though he only has five films to his credit. While his filmography is limited, Henenlotter’s skill and talent are most certainly not, as is proven with this, and all his other films. Henenlotter’s works might not win any mainstream awards, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t good movies and a riotous romp to watch. His films are innovative and offbeat, which is a welcome thing in the horror genre, where most movies are simple rehashes with no real advances present. Even though he usually works with low budgets, Henenlotter always manages to offer a polished and impressive film, complete with terrific gore and creature effects to dazzle the eyes. If you like the style of this movie, make sure to check out Frankenhooker and the three Basket Case films, I think you’ll enjoy those as well. The acting in this movie is not Academy Award caliber, but for a film of this nature the performers do a more than adequate turn. The lead is played by Rick Herbst (Crossing The Line, Warlock III), who is good even though he is called on to work under some very unusual situations. The rest of the cast includes Gordon MacDonald (The Thin Red Line), Theo Barnes, Jennifer Lowry, Vicki Darnell (Frankenhooker), and Lucille Saint-Peter.

Video: How does it look?

Brain Damage is presented in a 1.85:1 widescreen transfer, which is not enhanced for widescreen televisions. While the image is not anamorphic or pristine in nature, I do feel this is the finest looking version of the film available. The colors are vivid and never bleed unless they’re supposed to, and the flesh tones look normal and free from distortion at all times. The contrast is also top drawer, with well defined shadows and very high visible detail levels. I did see some very minor compression errors, but nothing to be concerned with.

Audio: How does it sound?

This releases features a solid but unremarkable mono track for audio, which seems to have all the elements in order. This movie has some really cool sound effects, so I would have loved a remastered surround track, but this one is adequate for the material. The music is never distorted and the effects do sound good, though not as distinct as I would like. The dialogue is also clear and without serious flaw, and the volume is consistent and acceptable.

Supplements: What are the extras?

This is a special edition release, and it has some wonderful bonus materials included. You’ll find theatrical trailers for Brain Damage and Basket Case, as well as a complete filmography on the director, Frank Henenlotter. The inclusion of an isolated musical score should delight fans of the film, since the soundtrack album was never made available. The final supplement is an audio commentary featuring Henenlotter, novelist Bob Martin, and indie filmmaker Scooter McCrae. This track is driven by Henenlotter, who recalls all sorts of memories and stories about the film’s production. He talks about nearly every aspect of the film, from ratings to budget, so you won’t want to skip this one. It is also worth noting this release includes the uncut and complete version of the film, which is certainly a bonus in my opinion.

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