Monday, March 21, 2011

Rare Flix: The Brain (1988)

How is this not on DVD?!?  This 1988 horror film has every aspect that should make it a cult classic alongside stuff like Evil Dead II and Re-Animator.  However, this film is very rare, thanks to some confusion about the film's ownership and a lack of DVD release.  How did I find it?  Let's just say that it fell off a truck. So what is The Brain about?  It's about a giant, killer brain.  You were expecting something more?  The film is notable for it's wacky premise, actual use of the title creature (watch enough of these films and you expect to see nothing until an hour in) and it's casting.  What's so special about the casting?  The film stars David Gale, the master villain from Re-Animator and Bride of Re-Animator.  That's all you really need to know, right?  Will this Rare flick live up to it's...lack of hype?  Put on your thinking cap in order to match wits with...
The film begins with a matronly-woman watching a show called 'Creative Thinking.'  As it turns out, this is an outlet for an evil scientist (Gale).  The 1980's- a decade of forced irony.  The daughter has a freak-out/dream sequence right out of Prom Night 2 before inadvertently-killing her mother.  Oops.  We see the creature behind it: a giant, gray brain.  This is not a normal brain a la The Brain from Planet Auros, however.  This thing has a face- an ugly one- and a big set of fangs!  It's like a giant brain mixed with a piranha!  In what's either a good or bad move, we see a lot of the monster right away.  I'm all for it, since the effect is cool, but other people may certainly disagree.  The story jumps to focus on our two protagonists, a generic teenage guy and girl.  The guy is sent to the Institute run by Gale after he pulls a prank on a teacher.  He's put in a room and the Brain attempts to control his mind.  However, he manages to keep his free will.  This angers the creature, especially since he's having the female scientist appear topless.  The creature makes one more attempt on the guy as he drives home, but the guy survives the crash.  He has another freak-out in a pizza parlor where his lady friend works at, leading to him being locked up.
While our hero is locked away, the Brain will play!  Pushed by Gale, the creature continues to exert his power over people and this leads to more death.  Our hero makes his escape, while his girlfriend and another guy try to break in from the other side.  What a coincidence!  Our hero runs down stairs and hallways for a bit (something we'll see more of) while guards, a henchman for Gale and the Brain itself give chase!  He ends up in the Boiler Room, where he meets up with the others...but not Mankind.  A man can dream, right?  You can kind of see what's going to happen, right?  Yeah, the guy with the pair dies.  Don't worry, he'll get his Poor Bastard of Cinema segment soon enough.  The pair escape and go to the guy's house, only to show up right around the time that the mother gets brainwashed by 'Thinking.'  What does she do under the Brain's control? Only cut her husband in half with a chainsaw!  Ouch.  Our heroes need to come up with a plan and fast.  So far, all they've done is have sex.  That solves one problem, I suppose.
Unfortunately, this film has only so many tricks in its arsenal.  Our heroes run for a bit, but the lady gets captured.  Our hero tries to convince his family that he's not a killer, but they are still under the creature's control.  'Thinking' is made into a national show (how?), so our hero goes to the taping to put a stop to it.  The Brain senses his arrival, however, and taunts Gale into taking care of the kid.  He runs some more (I told you) and even passes through the same locations again.  Throw in the fact that I don't think he ever changes clothes and you get a film that appears to be looping.  He breaks out his lady and the pair flee from the Brain monster one last time.  They get cornered and the Brain tries to eat the girlfriend.  Using a bit of science from earlier (a Chekhov's Gun?), he makes the Brain explode.  In the Epilogue, the whole thing just kind of wraps up without much dialog.  What happened to Gale?  We get one last jump scare with the Brain and the film Ends.
Brain smash!  Brain eat!  The plot of this movie is a bit silly, but it works for me.  It's a pulp, horror film from the 1980s, so I don't expect The 400 Blows or 8 and 1/2.  The idea of a giant brain controlling people through a talk show is just one of those premises that you can't get mad at.  They don't try to have it make a lot of sense.  They don't try to explain where the Brain came from or how any of this works.  You may call that lazy'd be right.  Even so, I'm still not mad at this movie.  The acting is generally-good, although the Supporting Cast tend to overact in a lot of the key scenes.  They just can't play crazy too well.  Gale, however, makes up for most of that.  I did like his henchman too, but that was mostly due to his giant eyebrows and matching beard.  The effects are the real selling point here.  The Brain monster looks cheap at times, but almost always looks interesting.  I love this design and really want to have this thing in my living room.  I wonder if those Canadians saved it.  If you can find this movie (and I won't suggest how), you really need to see it.  Is it a classic?  Not really.  Is it a fun film from the '80s that a lot of us have never seen?  Yes.  Track it down, Internet people.  As a bonus, the film is all about safety at home...
Up next, a film whose cover was featured on Impossibly-Cool Cover Art gets a review.  It's '70s-tastic.  Stay tuned...

1 comment:

  1. yeah, The Brain, I simply love that flick! I mean, it's bad, really bad, but at the same time it's so brilliantly entertaining!