On March 11th, 1818 author Mary Shelley’s book Frankenstein was first introduced to the world. In the almost two centuries since its original publication, it has been done and done again more times than can be counted on two hands. This includes both on screen and on the printed page in various fashions. Interestingly enough, in the nearly two hundred years since Shelley’s now groundbreaking novel was first published, the very topics tackled in that novel have shown just how far ahead of her time Shelley was. Taking this into account, it is difficult to say for certain which movies and novels that have been churned out since then stand out among its seemingly endless sea of remakes and re-imaginings. Later this month, Scream Factory, Shout! Factory’s horror division, and MGM will re-issue one candidate for that list of noteworthy reboots and re-imaginings in the form of the classic sci-fi horror flick The Brain That Wouldn’t Die. Originally released in theaters on August 10th, 1962, this classic flick is a must have for any fan of true sci-fi and horror. The main reason for this is the movie’s very story. On the surface it very much follows Shelley’s Frankenstein formula complete with mad scientist trying to play God. There is just one minor change that makes the story work. Of course the deeper concepts interwoven into the story are just as important as the story itself if not more so. This will all be discussed at more length shortly. It is just one aspect of the movie that makes it well worth the watch. The movie’s special effects are just as important to the whole of the movie as the story. The main special effect is tied right in to a classic magician’s trick, too. This will be discussed more later. The bonus material included in the movie’s new Blu-ray re-issue is also worth discussing here. It most certainly is not the only other aspect that can be discussed either. The work of the movie’s cast in front of the camera is just as important to the whole of this movie as is the work of those that re-mastered it for its release on Blu-ray. All things considered, Scream Factory and MGM’s upcoming Blu-ray re-issue of The Brain That Wouldn’t Die is both a must have for classic sci-fi and horror fans, and one of the year’s best new DVD and Blu-ray re-issues.
Scream Factory and MGM’s upcoming Blu-ray re-issue of The Brain That Wouldn’t Die is one of this year’s best new DVD/Blu-ray re-issues. The classic sci-fi/horror flick is a must have for any fan of the genre. It is especially so for fans of classic titles within the genre. The main reason for that is the movie’s story. On the surface it can easily be said that it is just another re-imagining of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. But on another level, it is actually a rather deep story. It follows a surgeon named Dr. Bill Cortner (Jason Evers–The Green Berets, Escape From The Planet of the Apes, Channing) as he uses his knowledge of transplanting to try and find a new body for the head of his girlfriend Jan after a wreck. The wreck severed her head from her body. But thanks to his then unorthodox means he essentially reanimates her (or at least her head) while he searches for a new body on which he could put her head. Thus he becomes the standard mad scientist figure. Interestingly enough, when Jan (Virginia Leath–Fear and Desire, A Kiss Before Dying, Violent Saturday) regains consciousness in Bill’s secret lab, she pleads, “Let me die!” It is a simple statement. Yet it is hugely important to the story. That is because it takes a largely unfamiliar path within this sub-genre of the sci-fi/horror realm. It is also because it raises a very relevant discussion on the issue of right to life. It is one of so very few movies within its genre (and sub-genre) that actually makes a valid attempt to entertain and get audiences thinking at the same time. It could be argued that considering this, everything tackled in this story from the topic of transplant technology to the discussion on medical ethics really makes it stand out from its counterparts both past and present. In turn it makes the movie that much more worth the watch. It is just one reason that the movie’s new re-issue is so impressive. The movie’s special effects are just as worth noting in its enjoyment as its dual purpose story.
The story presented in The Brain That Wouldn’t Die gives audiences plenty of reason to watch the movie in its new Blu-ray re-issue. It is but one part of the whole that makes this movie such an interesting watch. The special effects that were utilized in the movie’s relatively short eighty-one minute run time are just as important to the movie’s presentation as its story. The reason that the movie’s special effects are worth noting is their simplicity. Considering similar movies that have been released since, this movie doesn’t rely on its special effects. Rather it keeps them to a bare minimum. Audiences will be amazed at the crew’s ability to hide Virginia] Leath’s body and make her look like a disembodied head, sitting on Dr. Cortner’s desk. At no point do those efforts go over the top or even look the least bit cheesy. The result of those efforts is in fact movie magic that is just as impressive as an illusion put on by a professional magician. And in regards to the special effects used when Dr. Cortner’s friend has his arm ripped off by the beast behind the door, the work there is just as notable. What is more here, the fact that those behind the lens opted to not go the over-the-top blood and guts route (which so many horror movies today take) makes the overall production all the more enjoyable. That could very well have been the result of censor control. Even if censors didn’t play a role in that limitation, it still adds so much to the movie’s overall viewing experience. That is because it shows the attempts by those behind the cameras to provide audiences with substance versus shock. On a related note, the work of the makeup department on the “creature” that is kept locked up is to be just as commended since it is just as much a part of the movie’s special effects division. It definitely looks creepy but not too creepy or cheesy for that matter. In all honesty, one can’t help but wonder if the creature’s look is what inspired the character Sloth from the 1985 teen action flick The Goonies. The similarity in the pair’s look cannot be ignored. In the same breath, one can’t help but wonder if the very concept of keeping Jan’s head alive was the influence behind the “bottled heads” in Futurama. Getting back on track, the minimalist and responsible use of special effects in The Brain That Wouldn’t Die shows in the long run to be just as important to the whole of the movie as its story. That is because it shows an emphasis on substance over shock. That’s something that is painfully absent in so many of today’s sci-fi, horror and combined offerings. It is just one more element that makes the movie’s viewing experience so enjoyable in the case of its new re-issue. The bonus material included in the movie’s new Blu-ray re-issue is yet another element that makes the overall viewing experience so impressive.
The Brain That Wouldn’t Die might be more than half a century old. But the story that lies behind the movie is one that is just as relevant today as it was in its debut fifty-three years ago. It is also just as entertaining if not more so. This is especially the case considering the movies that have been churned out within its genre in the decades since its debut. The same can be said of the movie’s special effects. The minimal and responsible use of special effects throughout the course of the movie’s relatively short run time adds just as much enjoyment to the movie. While both elements are equally important to the overall viewing experience of The Brain That Wouldn’t Die the bonus material that has been included with the movie in its new Blu-ray re-issue is just as important to that experience as either of the noted elements. Scream Factory and MGM have included in the movie’s new re-issue a complete episode of Mystery Science Theater 3000 that features this exact movie as its main feature. It’s kind of fitting that it has been included considering the current push to have the cult classic series resurrected. There is also a rather interesting addition in the form of the movie’s photo shoot sequence in which model Doris Powell (Adele Lamont—The Tall Man, The Phil Silvers Show) is posing for a group of photographers by itself. What makes this sequence an interesting addition is that in its presentation here, Powell is actually posing nude. There is some partial nudity from the back. But in front she is fully topless. Here’s the thing. This take on the photo shoot sequence comes from an international cut of the movie. It is important to note not so much for its content but for the allowance of said content internationally versus its censorship domestically. It serves to show the differing views on such material at the time by American censor groups and those in other nations. When one compares that level of censorship not only to that of other nations then, but to other nations today, the picture that is painted is even more dramatic. Simply put, the addition of this sequence to the movie’s re-issue adds to the movie’s overall viewing experience in that it enriches viewers’ appreciation for not only the movie’s history but for film history in whole in all of its reaches. It is hardly the only other part of the movie’s presentation here that makes it such an enjoyable new release. The work of the movie’s cast in front of the camera and that of those that re-mastered the movie for its presentation on Blu-ray both play just as much of an important part in the movie’s overall presentation as the previously noted elements. All things considered, The Brain That Wouldn’t Die is a must have for any sci-fi and/or horror fan as well as classic film buffs in general. Not only that but in considering everything noted here, it can be said of the movie’s new Blu-ray re-issue that it is one of the year’s best new DVD/Blu-ray re-issues.
Scream Factory and MGM’s upcoming Blu-ray re-issue of The Brain That Wouldn’t Die is a must have for fans of the sci-fi and horror realm as well as for classic film buffs in general. It is yet another prime example of everything that once made both genres (and their hybrid offshoots) so great. The story favors an actual story and substance over unnecessary blood and gore. The special effects are used minimally and responsibly. The bonus material included in the movie’s upcoming re-issue add even more enjoyment and appreciation for the movie and its place in the rich annals of sci-fi and horror film history both in itself and culturally. The work of the movie’s cast is just as noteworthy as is the work of those that worked so hard to re-master the movie for its presentation here. The end result of all of the noted elements is a movie that is, again, a must have for sci-fi and horror fans and for classic film buffs in general. It will be available in stores and online on Tuesday, December 22. It can be pre-ordered online now via Shout! Factory’s online store at https://www.shoutfactory.com/film/film-horror/the-brain-that-wouldn-t-die. More information on this and other titles from Scream Factory is available online now at:
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