Saturday, July 20, 2013

The Brain That Wouldn't Die

Coming up on TCM Underground tonight is one of those sci-fi/horror movies that were a staple of the late 1950s and early 1960s: B-levet best, and often so bad that they're actually a hoot to watch because you'll be laughing at how unbelievably bad the stuff is. This one is The Brain That Wouldn't Die, and is airing overnight at 3:15 AM.

Jason Evers plays Dr. Bill Cortner. He's a surgeon who, in his spare time, is working on ways to transplant human organs. Transplantation was in its infancy at the time the movie was made, with there never having been a heart transplant in real life. As such, there are people who would have had problem with such medical experimentation. Especially if it's not being done officially, the way that Dr. Bill is circumventing protocol. Among the people who aren't so sure of Bill's work is his girlfriend Jan (Virginia Leith). And if she isn't a fan of it now, she's really about to start developing problems with it!

Bill and Jan go off to the country for a weekend, but that weekend is cut short (no pun intended) when Bill crashes the car, and the accident results in Jan being decapitated! What's a good doctor to do? Well, one who's engaged in medical experimentation is certainly going to experiment. Dr. Bill comes up with a way to keep the decapitated head alive, which he does in a laboratory pan in his secret basement laboratory. Bill vows that he's going to find a body onto which he can put Jan's head.

Jan, unsurprisingly, isn't particularly happy with this. Where she had qualms about her boyfriend's medical experimentation before, now she's downright snarky about it. But then, if you were reduced to being stuck in a big metal pan in a basement laboratory, you'd probably be mighty irritated too. It doesn't help that Jan is surrounded by Bill's other experiments, which includes on in a locked closet. Jan also seeming starts to develop a bit of an aptitude for telepathy.

Meanwhile, Bill is looking for the body to which he'll attach Jan's head. The only thing is, he's not about to go looking through the morgues. Bill is much too pervy for that. Instead, he looks at models and the women working in "gentlemen's clubs" as we'd euphemistically call them today, trying to find a body that's sufficiently hot to go with Jan's head. It goes without saying that Jan isn't going to like it when she finds out what's really going on.

If the plot sounds ludicrous, well, it is. That fits in with the poor acting and the low-budget production values, however. Everything in The Brain That Wouldn't Die suggests that it should be a terrible movie. And yet, it's a lot of fun, in no small part because it's so terrible. As with many low-budget horror films, this one got a cheapie DVD release along the way.

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