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Brain Damage – 7

Director – Frank Henenlotter

Cast – Rick Hearst, Gordon MacDonald, Jennifer Lowry, Theo Barnes, Lucille Saint-Peter

Release Year – 1986

Reviewed by John of the Dead

After giving us his debut cult classic 1982 effort, Basket Case, writer/director Frank Henenlotter took his time delivering his next bizarro experience, Brain Damage. While not living up to the status that Basket Case achieved, this effort manages to still bring for the the Henenlotter goods in zany fashion, making for a film sure to be enjoyed by fans of his work.

Brian, an average guy living in New York City, one day comes across an independent parasitic brain who promises him enlightenment beyond belief in exchange for allowing him to feed on the brains of other humans. Now hooked on the special liquid the brain uses to grant Brian his phenomena, he must choose between continuing his path of deepening dependance on the brain, or saving his humanity and stopping the brain from claiming more victims.

If you know of Henenlotter’s work then this storyline should come as no surprise to you, and if you are not familiar with his work then WELCOME TO THE SHOW! Henenlotter kicks things off quick, throwing us into this zany story as we follow the previous hosts of the brain, named Alymer, desperately searching for him after he recently escaped their dwelling, but it is too late for them because he now has a new host…Brian. Brain is a typical guy, living with his brother and enjoying a positive relationship with a sweet girl, but all of that will be ruined now that he has Alymer to “feed” him what no one else can. Brian (which I misspelled as “Brain’ so many times while typing this) immediately finds himself hooked on the euphoria that Alymer provides him, but soon witnesses the horror byproduct when Alymer begins killing off those around him, devouring their brains in gruesome fashion. I loved the kill sequences written into the film, and leave it to Henenlotter to give me a kill I will never forget – a kill that came via “deep throat” performed during fellatio. Yup, you read THAT right. The storyline is a very simple one that does not move very much aside from bringing on some conflict here and there regarding Brian’s deteriorating relationship with his girlfriend and his brother, but if you take the film for what it is and just enjoy the ride then the simple storyline should do enough to keep you engaged, and most likely laughing out loud too.

Henenlotter’s direction aided in making this zany story work, and he did so with positive FX despite a low budget. This man has been known for making great things happen with puppetry and insane-looking beasts, and he gives us both of those elements in this film, however there is only one beast to worry about…Alymer. The kill sequences provided by the sleazy brain were awesome and came with both shock value as well as outright fun thanks to Henenlotter’s execution, and with plenty of gore to go around they also will serve as satisfying kills to the gorehounds out there. There really is not much more to Henenlotter’s direction in this piece, he just serves the goods by throwing them in your face and giving you an experience you most likely will never forget.

Overall, Brain Damage is a fun piece heavy on ridiculousness thanks to a crazy plot and equally insane direction that makes for good kills and plenty of enjoyment to go around. Fans of Henenlotter’s work will appreciate this as they know what to expect from the guy, but if you have no Henenlotter experience but find this film intriguing then I say give it a go and enjoy the ride.

Rating: 7/10

  1. ekr1984
    March 12, 2012 at 10:38 pm

    This sounds both parts hilarious and creepy. I’ve got to see it.

    • March 13, 2012 at 2:39 pm

      Absolutely. It is hard to find at times, but it will be worth the search.

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