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Brain Dead – 5


Director – Adam Simon

Cast – Bill Pullman, Bill Paxton, Nicholas Pryor, Patricia Charbonneau, George Kennedy, Brian Brophy, David Sinaiko

Release Year – 1990

Reviewed by John of the Dead

I had been trying to track down Brain Dead for a very long time, but finding it without having to buy the DVD kept me from this effort…until it surprising wound up on Netflix Instant Streaming. This seemed like the type of film I would enjoy – a cheesy film with a zany story – and for the most part I was given just that. While the cheese is there and the storyline delivers on giving me something obscure, I wanted more from Brain Dead and its very mediocre direction. All of this also comes despite the casting of two of my favorite actors, Bill Pullman and Bill Paxton, who sadly were not able to save this from resulting in a mediocre experience.

Dr. Rex Martin (Bill Pullman), a top neurosurgeon who studies brain malfunctions that cause mental disease, is contacted by Jim Reston (Bill Paxton), an old high school friend with a problem that only Dr. Martin can fix. Reston is now a successful businessman working for Eunice, a large conglomerate, and is in need of Dr. Martin’s assistance in reaching the mind of John Halsey, a former Eunice employee and genius mathematician who turned mental patient and took his money-making secrets with him. It is now up to Dr. Martin to try and help his friend and Mr. Halsey without losing his own mind in the process.

From the get-go I immediately thought to myself “Damn, this looks crappy.” due to the grainy and very amateur cinematography. The editing is very choppy and it gives you the feeling that the film is going to suck, as such films usually do, and without a forgiving heart this will most likely not satisfy you. I enjoyed watching Bill Pullman and Bill Paxton working together in a virtually unknown horror film, and despite the unfavorable elements around them they managed to keep some of my attention. The direction from Adam Simon really held the film back, and after seeing that he also directed Carnosaur, which is a literal piece of crap, I realized that I went into this film expecting too much.

The storyline, written by Charles Beaumont (The Masque of the Red Death, Burn Witch Burn, “The Twilight Zone”)is where things really get whacky as we follow Dr. Martin desperately try to escape the mess he found himself in. He believes he is helping Mr. Haley and Mr. Halsey, but despite the genius that he is he finds that it is he who is suffering mental issues. Dr. Martin’s life has unexpectedly been turned upside down as he begins to suffer strange hallucinogenic episodes that grow stronger every day. Soon enough it becomes unclear to him whether or not he really is a doctor imagining that he is a mental patient or a mental patient imagining that he is a doctor. I found these constant twists and turns to be a bit hectic and somewhat annoying, and while the “horror” is there if you put yourself in his shoes I found that this story was nowhere near what I expected, nor was it anything amazing in the end.

Overall, Brain Dead is a film that should have been much better, but horrible direction really held it back. The story is a decent one that keeps the viewer guessing but is far from the better efforts that have come from Charles Beaumont.

Rating: 5/10

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