• A Review Page For Those Movies You Watch At Home!

    Couch Potato Movie Reviews is, obviously, a blog that exclusively reviews movies. What makes this blog different is the fact that all of the films we are reviewing are all movies that are available on home movie rental companies such as Redbox, Netflix, Blockbuster, and your quickly disappearing neighborhood rental store. This blog is designed to take a more detailed look at those movies that either were sent straight to DVD, received a very limited release in the theaters, or were distributed through the art house or film festival circuit. We will also review those big Hollywood films, but only after they are available for home viewing.

    All the reviews are written by fans of the great art of film making rather than some newspaper reviewer or stuffy film student. We don’t know everything about film but we do know what we like, and we are more than happy to share our opinions with you. What you do with those opinions are totally up to you, although comments are welcome and encouraged.

    Each film review has a one to five star rating at the end of the critique. Here is what those star ratings mean for you couch potatoes:

    * * * * * : Five stars: go and buy this one, don’t just rent it!

    * * * * : Four stars: put this at the top of your rental list.

    * * * : Three stars: average, not bad just not great either.

    * * : Two stars: only rent if you have to see everything.

    * : One star: don’t waste your time with this.

The Brain That Wouldn’t Die

TITLE: The Brain That Wouldn’t Die

YEAR: 1962

GENRE: Horror and Science Fiction

AKA: The Head That Wouldn’t Die

Back in 1959 director Joseph Green created a low budget science fiction film that created a major stink among the more conservative elements of 1950’s society. His film featured numerous exploitation elements as well as a generous helping of bloodshed featuring dismembered limbs and bleeding orifices and due to its extreme nature at the time the film was shelved for three years and was released with several scenes deleted in 1962. Now restored by the good people at Synapse including the inclusion of the original scenes, The Brain That Wouldn’t Die may have been a groundbreaking film in terms of censorship issues but is not a quality example of good 1960’s science fiction.

Dr. Bill Cortner (played by Jason Evers) is a brilliant surgeon who steals body parts from the hospital he works at so that he can conduct experiments on transplants and raising the dead at his rural estate. One weekend he takes his girlfriend Jan Compton (Virginia Leith) to show what he does in his share time away from big city life when they are involved in a single car accident that decapitates Jan. Dr. Cortner takes Jan’s head to his estate, hooks up several tubes and electrodes, and brings her head back to life. Dr. Cortner’s assistant Kurt (Leslie Daniels) assists Dr. Cortner in the abominable procedure, and what Jan awakens and discovers what she has become she pleads for her demise. Undeterred, Dr. Cortner travels to strip clubs and other seedy locations in order to find a suitable body to attach Jan’s head in an effort to make her whole. Jan discovers that she now has a power to communicate with her mind and starts chatting telepathically with The Monster (Eddie Carmel), a scientific failure that Dr. Cortner keeps locked in a closet. Knowing that her boyfriend insists on making her whole again, Jan concocts a plan to stop Dr. Cortner through any way necessary including using The Monster to kill anybody in her way including her former love.

The Brain That Wouldn’t Die has been compared to epic stinkfests such as The Beast Of Yucca Flats and Manos: The Hands Of Fate as one of the worst films in history, but that is an unfair comparison as this film actually has some redeeming qualities. First of all, the film work is very good for a cheapie 1960’s production as the black and white footage is crisp and professional looking, the sound is adequate, and the lighting is very good in most places. The acting, on the other hand, is atrocious in places especially Daniels as he lays out a dopey speech about his future as a surgeon if he just did not have a withered hand that utterly drips with more cheese than a plate of nachos. The story is a bit comical in nature but is played as straight as humanly possible which gives The Brain That Wouldn’t Die a “so bad it’s good” element that makes it memorable. The story contains a few elements of exploitative cinema including a catfight between two strippers, a swimsuit competition (which was announced would have five contestants but only four girls show up), and as many buxom, trampy women as one could muster. The film also has an unusual amount of bloodshed in a film created in the late 50’s including a few dismemberments. Despite this, the special effects are downright awful including a laboratory borrowed from other films, chocolate syrup serving as blood, and makeup effects on the Monster that fall off during pivotal shots in the finale.

After directing a few cheapies, Green moved on to own a small film distribution center where Green answered the phones and stuffed the envelopes. Carmel suffered from gigantism due to a pituitary gland issue that caused him to grow to a height of 7’6” and spent his working career as a sideshow attraction, appearances at Hubert’s Museum in Times Square, and roles as monsters in low budget science fiction films. It is amazing that The Brain That Wouldn’t Die created such a furor back in the day as the film is such a cheese fest by today’s standards, but the film did push some censorship standards and for that the film should be celebrated. The Brain That Wouldn’t Die is not the god-awful production that it has the reputation to be, but it is not a stellar example of good science fiction either.

* *

–Mark

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