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While not in the same league as PLAN NINE FROM OUTER SPACE, THE BRAIN THAT WOULDN'T DIE ($25) is one of those movies that are so bad, you canít help but loving every ludicrous moment. I was a kid the last time I saw THE BRAIN THAT WOULDN'T DIE and thought this movie was really cool because a mad doctor had managed to keep his girlfriendís head alive in what looked like an oven roasting pan. Of course, as a kid, I was tempted to try this experiment with my little sister, but that is another story... THE BRAIN THAT WOULDN'T DIE combines sleaze, gore, a shoestring budget and over-the-top acting to tell its story of medical science gone mad. Herb (Jason) Evers stars as Dr. Bill Cortner, a surgeon and research scientist, who wants to push the envelope of life, death and transplantation. Cortnerís unscrupulous methods alarm his father, a respected surgeon, who fears his sonís Frankenstein like approach to medicine will end in tragedy.

THE BRAIN THAT WOULDN'T DIE also stars Virginia Leith as Cortnerís fiancťe Jan Compton, who is decapitated in an automobile accident, while the doctor is at the wheel. With Janís head tucked inside his jacket, Cortner makes a mad dash to his laboratory, which just happens to be in the basement of his country home. Using a new serum he perfected, Cortner re-animates Janís head and then goes off in search of a new body for the woman he loves. Being the forthright medical man that he is, Dr. Cortnerís search leads him to a strip club, as well as a "Body Beautiful" contest. However, while the doctor is out trying to procure a body, Janís head develops a telepathic link with the horrifying failed experiment lurking in the laboratory closet. Jan also turns out to be the chattiest talking head on record, finding plenty of time to torment Dr. Cortnerís assistant Kurt (Leslie Daniels). The plot of THE BRAIN THAT WOULDN'T DIE is as preposterous as it sounds, maybe more so. Is it any wonder that this movie came under the ridicule of MST3K???

Synapse Films has rescued THE BRAIN THAT WOULDN'T DIE from obscurity, making sure that this guilty pleasure is available to the DVD generation in its uncut, unexpurgated form, which includes some gory footage cut from the original American International Pictures release. THE BRAIN THAT WOULDN'T DIE has been given a windowboxed presentation that insures that the entire 1.37:1 image is viewable. Depending on your monitorís level of overscan, you could see a thin black border around the entire picture or nothing at all. The black and white transfer itself is quite sharp and provides a good level of image detail. However, the film element used for the transfer displays a large number of blemishes comprised mainly of white and black specks. Despite this problem, THE BRAIN THAT WOULDN'T DIE looks a whole lot better than an ultra-low budget film from 1959 (1962) deserves to look. Blacks are pretty pure and the image displays a smooth grayscale and very good contrast. Kudos to Synapse Films for getting THE BRAIN THAT WOULDN'T DIE to look this good. Digital compression artifacts do not make their presence known on this DVD.

The Dolby Digital monaural soundtrack is relatively clean sounding, however the limitations in the original recordings are quite evident. Dialogue is always intelligible, although portions of the film sound as if the actors were performing at the bottom of a well. The basic interactive menus have the proper "Saturday Matinee" quality and provide access to the standard scene selection feature, as well as a smattering of supplements. Included on the disc is a theatrical trailer, which is pretty hilarious after watching the feature, plus production stills (with a nudie pic in the batch).

THE BRAIN THAT WOULDN'T DIE is the kind of entertainment that will cause brain rot in critical audiences. However, if you can appreciate the joys of bad cinema, this flick is for you. Synapse Films has done a really good job with the presentation, so if you are an aficionado, youíll want to add THE BRAIN THAT WOULDN'T DIE to your collection.


The Brain That Wouldn't Die (1959)


DVD reviews are Copyright © 2000 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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