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Friday, April 13, 2018

Grisly Leap For The 60's


The Brain That Wouldn't Die (1962) Is Head-Start On Tasteless Trend

This was for years tendered to me as more rotten than it turned out to be., shorthand describe being "the one with a head in the brownie pan." Actually, Brain's a gory mess, much more explicit than '62 politeness would otherwise dictate. One guy has an arm ripped off by a mutant and another gets flesh chewed from his neck, so where indeed to draw lines? A next couple years would answer with Blood Feast, then The Flesh Eaters. There was Brain's wide-eye dismembered head on the cover of Horror Monsters #8, and who wasn't mesmerized by that? From such an image is genre folklore born. Made at leanest cost, lab scenes comprise much of footage, and were staged, allegedly, in a NY hotel basement. The Brain That Wouldn't Die belies its label in that title femme wants to die, but can't thanks to experimentation of a fiancĂ© who yanked her noggin out of a car on fire. Previous victims dot the labscape, doc assist with a claw hand, plus aforesaid mutant, the latter a wow once out of his closet and getting even. There's trolling too among strip joints from which a wholly unmotivated catfight ensues, all quite unwholesome, and I'm surprised even Jim and Sam picked up Brain for distribution. The film's producers must have made them a virtual gift of the thing.

14 Comments:

Blogger Randy Jepsen said...

I first saw this on our local creature feature when I was a teen. 10:30 Friday night & repeated at 1 Saturday afternoon. The first gory B&W film I ever saw. Followed soon after with MANEATER OF HYDRA in bloody color on our Sunday afternoon Science Fiction Theater. The good old days of uncut cartoons & movies on local TV stations.

2:50 PM  
Blogger kenneth Von Gunden said...

Virginia Leith's brain hasn't died yet! Poor lady had a good career start but got lost in the studio shuffle. Again=so bad it's good. The Wolf, man.

5:10 PM  
Blogger Lee R. said...

Now we're talking. This is one of my all time favorite cheapy '50's/early '60's horror movies. This one along with "Hand Of Death" guarantee a great night of entertaining horrors and, of course, laughs. Unless a horror movie has humor, I don't like them.

10:12 PM  
Blogger Donald Benson said...

INVASION OF THE STAR CREATURES was, in fact, a comedy with no relation to the poster art. Two comic soldiers meet two sexy alien girls, and what follows isn't in a class with with ABBOTT AND COSTELLO GO TO MARS.

3:31 AM  
Blogger Michael said...

When I was booking 16mm in college for some reason we wanted to get a particular Chabrol film and I had the name of the US distributor-- Joseph Green Pictures. So I call it, an older voice answers, I ask if this is Joseph Green Pictures and i hear in a Mel Brooks/Marty Allen voice, "Yeah, dis is Joe Green!" After directing The Brain That Wouldn't Die, Joe became a very small distributor of a lot of kung fu films and the occasional foreign art film. You can just imagine his tiny office on the Lower East Side, decorated with posters for both lines.

Besides The Brain, his one directorial effort seems to have been a vanity project for a show biz hanger-on named Naura Hayden, The Perils of P.K., which has a remarkable supporting cast of Vegas-Borscht Belt types, all in for very brief cameos, I'm sure. I don't think it's the film that Leonard Maltin said nearly forced them to invent a rating lower than BOMB, but it could be...

9:27 AM  
Blogger Kevin K. said...

I just looked up "The Perils of PK" on imdb. What a cast -- Sammy Davis Jr., Louise Lasser, Larry Storch, Joey Heatherton, Jackie Mason, Virginia Graham... and produced by Sheila MacRae!

10:52 AM  
Blogger phil smoot said...

The Brain That Wouldn't Die is not my idea of so-bad-it's-good. It's my idea of just awful.

Edited the the length of a 10 minute Castle Film Home Movie, then it would be so-bad-it's-good,
but at full running time for this feature, it is a horrible bore.

12:09 PM  
Blogger brickadoodle said...

Tawdry and gruesome, what more could we have ever asked for?

1:06 PM  
Blogger b piper said...

This movie reminded me more than anything of the old Skywald horror comics of the 60s. I always thought Virginia Leith was quite good in this movie, certainly as good as anyone could be under the circumstances. There was apparently a scene planned where her helpless head was menaced by rats, which even the producers found too tasteless. Meow.

1:27 PM  
Blogger Dr. Mark said...

Remade as THE MAN WITH TWO BRAINS starring Steve Martin in the 80s. I like both a lot.

1:41 AM  
Blogger John McElwee said...

Griff checks in with a fascinating footnote to the Brain That Wouldn't Die saga:


Dear John:

The 1986 Mike Nichols movie of Nora Ephron's Heartburn featured a prominent reference to THE BRAIN THAT WOULDN'T DIE. Early in the picture, Rachel (Meryl Streep) and Mark (Jack Nicholson) meet and hit it off immediately; they spend much of that evening (and the next day) in bed together. At one point, Rachel goes out to the kitchen to whip up a snack, while Mark watches the late show in the bedroom. We can't really see the TV (it's reflected in a frame on the wall), but we can hear a bit of the soundtrack; as the ensuing hilariously dry dialogue (beautifully delivered by Nicholson) makes clear, there's no question what movie is playing...

Rachel: What happened so far?

Mark: She was decapitated in a dreadful automobile accident. But fortunately, that was the exact problem that her boyfriend was working on back at the laboratory. So he carried the head back in a towel that he had in the car. And she wakes up on a tray and says, "Where am I? Oh, no, don't tell me. I've been in an awful accident and lost my arms and legs." And he says, "Worse than that, I'm afraid."

Joseph Green's company distributed a couple of pretty good imports -- including Bertrand Tavernier's first feature THE CLOCKMAKER and Claude Sautet's VINCENT, FRANCOIS, PAUL AND THE OTHERS.

Regards,
-- Griff

5:21 PM  
Blogger Moviecall said...

For those people familiar with the photographs of Diane Arbus, she produced a photo titled "Jewish Giant at Home" which shows a very large man towering over his parents in the living room of their home. The "Jewish Giant" was a man named Eddie Carmel and he's the misshapen faced thing locked in the closet in the laboratory who upon release tears the arm off the lab assistant. Eddie would do a few other movie monsters but he died early due to a condition called acromegaly - a pituitary dysfunction.

1:15 PM  
Blogger Michael said...

I think the one I booked was Pleasure Party, but I later booked Vincent, Francois Paul and the Others, just because I liked the idea of old Joe in his tiny office, distributing art films after having given the world such an awful horror movie.

At one point I thought he was also the director of Yiddish films with Molly Picon, but that was a different Joseph Green:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joseph_Green_(actor)

I wonder if they ever met...

5:50 PM  
Blogger Dan Bitgood said...

Acromegaly is the condition actor Rondo Hatton suffered from. Curable now I think.

2:29 AM  

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