The Brain That Wouldn’t Die (1962) [COMMENTARY]

The Brain That Wouldn’t Die
DIRECTOR: Joseph Green
STARRING: Jason (Herb) Evers, Virginia Leith, Leslie Daniel

Completed in 1959, but not released until 1962, The Brain That Wouldn’t Die has one of the best titles I’ve ever come across. Produced in the same year as Attack of the Giant Leeches, it does a much better job of being coherent, likeable and gripping. Unfortunately, it devolves into a sexist and meandering plot. Its opening is strong enough to make it memorable, however. Overall an enjoyable hour with some genuinely disturbing moments!

From Wikipedia:

The main plot focuses upon a mad doctor who develops a means to keep human body parts alive. He keeps a woman’s severed head alive for days, and keeps a lumbering, misshapened brute (one of his earlier failed experiments) imprisoned in a closet.

Of course, a lot of this film is quite ludicrous.  That’s more a feature of its time than anything else, though.  In all honesty, the opening sections of The Brain That Wouldn’t Die are unbelievably promising.  It’s full of moral exploration, quite clever and not afraid to rest on dialogue for a good amount of time.  In fact, the writing is quite poetic and elegant at times.  I was taken off-guard by its colourful use of language and thought-provoking conversation.

What really lets it down in the end is its devolution into sexist and quite dull territory.  A lot of the initial promise seems to ebb away in favour of some nastily creepy scenes.  The resolution is abrupt and poor, leaving somewhat of a bad taste in the mouth.  That said, a lot of its horror is genuine.  Some of its concepts and ideas are really rather grim, which is saying something in our age of desensitisation.  Also, I couldn’t finish this mini-write-up without mentioning its sinister soundtrack.  It’s incredibly effective, and even stands on its own.  Nice one, The Brain That Wouldn’t Die.  On the whole…

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