GORE IN THE STORE
Film, DVD, Blu-Ray & Streaming Reviews - By Fans For Fans
THE BRAIN ****
Directed by Edward Hunt.
Starring Tom Bresnahan, David Gale, Cynthia Preston, George Buza, Susannah Hoffman. Horror/Sci-Fi, Canada, 91 mins, cert 15.
Released in the UK on Limited Edition Blu-ray via 101 Films on 1st August 2022.
Did you know that 1950s sci-fi/horror classic THE BLOB was remade twice in 1988? Obviously, there was the official Chick Russell remake (itself due an official UK Blu-ray release, surely?) but there was also THE BRAIN; okay, it isn’t officially a remake of THE BLOB but it is so close in story and structure that it may as well be, and if nothing else it would make a great double feature with the Chuck Russell movie, if you can get hold of it.
Anyway, the plot is the usual twentysomething teenage misfit – in this case Jim (Tom Bresnahan) – who is a bit of a bad boy, likes to play pranks, has a beautiful girlfriend but could be so much more if only he applied himself. The local police officer doesn’t like him, the school principal wants to suspend him and his parents just don’t know what to do with him, until they are introduced to Independent Thinkers, a local television show hosted by Dr. Anthony Blakely (played by RE-ANIMATOR’s David Gale) who promises to be able to control rebellious teenage behaviour. The thing is Dr. Blakely and his team are themselves being controlled by a giant sentient brain whose ultimate goal seems to be to instigate mass compliance followed by world domination, and Jim is onto them and their dastardly plan, whatever it actually is.
Bringing together elements from such 1950s/’60s classics as the aforementioned THE BLOB, INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS and THE ATOMIC BRAIN, THE BRAIN is an absolute hoot of a sci-fi/horror movie if you approach it in the right way, i.e. don’t go expecting something on the level of THE THING or THE FLY, and instead lower your expectations to something akin to Tobe Hooper’s INVADERS FROM MARS, only not quite so tedious.
The big sell of this movie is the gloopy practical effects, and THE BRAIN does not disappoint on that score as the giant rubber brain with huge sharp teeth – yes, a brain with teeth and a snarling face, because it just has – devours people, presumably consuming their intelligence, soul or whatever (don’t worry about it too much – the scriptwriters didn’t) and getting stronger. And whilst the sight of grown men with their legs sticking out of the mouth of a very angry alien brain monster would probably not go down too well with the more socially conscious and culturally sensitive audiences of today, this movie was made in the 1980s, where the 1950s was fetishised, burly men with weird hair weren’t afraid to make idiots of themselves for the sake of a cheap laugh (just like Dr. Blakeley’s enforcer Verna, played by brilliant character actor George Buza), and women just appeared topless for the sake of it because… well, this is a 1980s horror movie.
Yes, THE BRAIN is a ton of fun and can proudly sit amongst the B-movie madness of NIGHT OF THE CREEPS, THE STUFF and KILLER KLOWNZ FROM OUTER SPACE for some retro sci-fi action with a contemporary twist, but is it a **air quotes** good movie? The answer to that is not really, mainly thanks to some shoddy performances from pretty much anyone who isn’t David Gale or George Buza – even the brain puppet itself puts in a stronger performance than most of the human cast – and a bit of a lag in the middle where the writers didn’t really know what to do with the characters apart from have them run around a bit more than they did in the first act, running into Dr. Blakely and Verna and then running away again, several times over. It gets a bit repetitive and should have been the opportunity to actually put some plot in place where we can really get to find out what the brain wants, but it isn’t that kind of movie. Even some more gratuitous nudity or gooey kills would have done but teenagers running about seems to be the extent of it (which is pretty much what the original THE BLOB did too, so it isn’t that far off the mark as a tribute).
Nevertheless, THE BRAIN is still a wild ride if you keep those expectations down and just let the low budget 1980s goodness wash over you. It isn’t as strong as any of the previously mentioned sci-fi/horror movies but it definitely isn’t without its charms, and coming backed with no less than three audio commentaries and a slew of cast and crew interviews – including George Buza, who still looks like a stocky gorilla, although he has sorted his hair out – it means you can watch it a few times with different perspectives to help ease you through the slower middle section. Overall, THE BRAIN is not a classic but it still provides enough of a wild time to include it in a 1980s monster movie marathon, and this packed limited edition set is the perfect way to do just that.
Film, DVD, Blu-Ray & Streaming Reviews
By Fans For Fans