Thursday, May 27, 2010

BMC MOVIE OF THE WEEK: THE BRAIN THAT WOULDN’T DIE

The Brain That Wouldn't Die movie poster
  • The Brain That Wouldn't Die
  • The Brain That Wouldn't Die
An arrogant scientist brings his fiancée back from the dead in this vintage cult horror film. Dr. Bill Cortner (Jason Evers, here billed as Herb Evers) performs medical experiments despite the trepidation of his surgeon father (Bruce Brighton); transplantation is Bill's main area of interest, but he's also had some success using electric shock to restore life to the recently deceased. When Bill causes a car crash that decapitates his fiancée, Jan Compton (Virginia Leith), he spirits her head off to his secret laboratory and keeps it alive with the help of an experimental new serum. Soon, the doctor begins scouring the dives, strip clubs, and suburban streets for an attractive woman whose body he can steal to restore his lady love to her full, ambulatory glory. Meanwhile, back at the lab, Jan grows to hate Bill for refusing to let her die. Developing telepathic powers that allow her to communicate with one of Bill's failed experiments -- a snarling creature kept locked up under the stairs -- she begins to plot her revenge. Things come to a head when Bill returns to the lab with his intended victim: a bitter, disfigured, man-hating figure model (Adele Lamont). The promotional tagline for The Brain That Wouldn't Die was "Alive...without a body...fed by an unspeakable horror from hell!" The film helped provide the inspiration for '80s horror/comedy director Frank Henenlotter's Frankenhooker and Basket Case 2. The former includes a decapitated woman restored to life by her lover, while the latter features both a cameo from Brain star Jason Evers and another character who looks like the twin brother of the monster under the stairs. – All-Movie Guide.
33% liked it

Unrated, 1 hr. 32 min.

Director: Joseph Green

 May 23, 2010: Solemnity of Pentecost (Year C)

I’m ashamed to admit that this movie completely terrified me when I was a kid. But the funny thing is that what scared me wasn’t stuff like the guy running through a field carrying his girlfriend’s severed head, or said head sitting in a pan full of syrupy blood bemoaning her fate, or even the mad doctor desperately stalking strippers and models (the only body types suitable for his experiment, of course) in order to  lob off one of their noggins and replace it with the one back at the lab. No, even at the age of six, I found all of that good fun. I mean, come on, the guy gets sick of hearing his girlfriend’s disembodied head complain all the time, so he duct tapes her mouth shut. That’s classic at any age.

No, what unnerved my young brain was the unseen thing behind the basement door. Out of sight until the very end of the film, it’s always there rattling the handle, testing the hinges, and occasionally thrusting a disfigured arm out of the food pass-through. The thought of what could be lurking behind that door chilled me to my childhood marrow and staved off sleep for hours to come. Even after I saw that it was just some doofus with putty all over his face.

Ah well, I was only six. And it’s not like the fear of the unknown can’t grip grownups from time to time. As this week’s gospel reading attests to, even the Disciples once  found themselves fearfully sitting in a room staring at a locked door. They knew what Jesus wanted them to do, but that would mean opening the door and seeing what was waiting for them on the other side. “We continually close our doors” Pope Benedict XVI  noted in his 2005 Pentecost homily, “we continually want to feel secure and do not want to be disturbed by others and by God.”

But, fortunately, doors aren’t really a problem for God. As the Pope explained, “The second image of the sending of the Spirit that we find in the Gospel is much more hidden. The Risen Lord passes through the closed doors and enters the place where the disciples are.” In this moment, Jesus prefigures the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost when the Apostles gained a little fortitude, threw open the doors, and began to teach the faith. Openly and loudly.

And now it’s our turn. Word is out that Pope Benedict XVI is establishing the Pontifical Council for New Evangelization in order to spur renewed efforts at spreading the Gospel in Europe and North America where the teachings of Christ are being overshadowed by the ongoing secularization of today’s culture. For awhile now most Catholics have preferred to keep their evangelizing behind locked doors, but it looks like Jesus is about to slip right in again and tell us to throw those doors wide open. Hope nobody’s scared.

10 comments:

Smiter the Archdeacon said...

"The Man with Two Brains" was another remake. Less of a B movie than a C one, actually, although the "cranial screw-top" surgery technique is rather fetching. Eegah, I thought you were going for an anchorite metaphor of redemption with the thing under the stairs.

EegahInc said...

Not in 500 words or less, I'm not. You know, I'm not sure this weekly exercise in brevity is working out. I'm learning my talent may lie in being long winded.

Smiter the Archdeacon said...

Well, it would have been a different review. But keep working at the "500 words or less." It'll really help if you ever do become a deacon, since the perceived quality of one's homily is, in general, inversely proportional to its length. Possibly even to the square of its length. In fact, I think, this relationship could be described with a chi-squared curve, with a peak somewhere around the 4-minute mark. But now I'm digressing... back to my dungeon to rattle some hinges! :)

Anonymous said...

"Religion's like your bellybutton: nobody's business but your own."

That great quote's from my Catholic father, and pretty much captures the attitude.

I'm all for the New Evangelization, and I hope the Pope gets some smart people on his commission (a few extra heads okay with me). It makes me a little nervous, 'though, because so many earnest folks seem to confuse apologetics with evangelization. Archbishop Dolan makes the point well in his "Priests for the third Millennium" that an attractive personality is absolutely essential in a person who represents the faith. If Dolan's right, successful evangelization is going to depend on a lot of Catholics who not only know the faith and present it in an inviting way, but also aren't...(searching for suitable word) buttheads.

Xena Catolica

EegahInc said...

Oh, hey, don't get me started. I attended a school run by the Free Will Baptists for two years and you wouldn't believe the number of people they KNEW were going to Hell, including me just because I was joining the Catholic Church.

But I'm pretty sure that's not the route the Pope will take. I would guess the emphasis will first and foremost be on getting the faithful to actually live out their beliefs in their daily lives (once somebody teaches them what those beliefs actually are), and after that not being afraid to discuss those beliefs when someone asks why we're so darn happy :)

Anonymous said...

Well, yeah, if we all lived out our faith we wouldn't have that whole butthead issue, would we?

I should say something cerebral here about decapitated heads & evil in C.S. Lewis' "That Hideous Strength"--ever read it? (I know some good men who've just never been able to get past the first 40 pages.) But a discussion of angry talking heads in a Catholic context just wouldn't be complete without it.

Xena Catolica

EegahInc said...

I'm ashamed to admit that I picked up Lewis' entire trilogy about two years ago and it's still on the (quite full) 'to read' shelf. I'll have to make them part of my Summer reading.

Fr. Erik Richtsteig said...

Don't be ashamed Eeg, this one scared me as a kid too. But "The Frozen Dead"(1967) was even better. (Adding Nazis always raises the creep factor.)

romishgraffiti said...

I'm ashamed to admit that I picked up Lewis' entire trilogy about two years ago and it's still on the (quite full) 'to read' shelf. I'll have to make them part of my Summer reading.

You could start with THS and not really miss anything. I never cared for the first one and can't really gin up the interest in the second.

EegahInc said...

Thank you, Father Erik, I'll take that as semi-official absolution :)

As for the Lewis books, I'm starting to think the audiobook route may be the way to go on those. I get precious little hands-on reading time, so I usually save that for Church stuff and dime store novels.