The Brain That Wouldn’t Die (1962)



A surgeon who scores about an 8 on the 1-10 Creep Scale gets in a car wreck which decapitates his fiancée, Jan (Virginia Leith).  Instead of crying or buying flowers, he grabs the head and high tails it to his lab where he just happens to be grafting amputated limbs onto things.  Every man needs a hobby, after all.  He rushes his assistant Kurt into action and together they complete the experiment they’ve only theorized about.  Using a special compound he’s invented, Dr. Perv, aka Dr. Bill Cortner (Jason Evers) keeps the head alive by attaching things to it, running liquids around it and plunking it in a cafeteria tray full of his special compound.  This must be some compound.  It takes the place of the heart, lungs, and well basically everything but the head.  Anyway, Jan wakes up and is she miffed.  Bill tells her he’ll fix everything by going out and finding a body to attach her head to and then they can get married and live in the country.  Of course Bill has no intention of grafting Jan’s head onto some uggo, so he travels the burlesque house/strip club/hot body contest circuit until he finds a photographers’ model with a great physique and a hideous (not really) scar on her face.  Under the guise of taking her to a consultation with his plastic surgeon dad to remove the scar, Bill takes Doris (Adele Lamont) to his secret laboratory where he drops about 72 hints about his nefarious plans.  Doris, who’s a bit slow on the uptake, catches none of these.  No matter, she won’t need her head soon anyway.  Dr. Perv slips her a Mickey and brings her to his lab to do the headectomy.  All the time Bill scours the red light district for bodies, Jan changes from a regular old head on a tray to a malevolent head on a tray and spends most of her time befriending the unseen creature locked in the lab closet.  Apparently a product of Bill’s earlier, failed grafting experiments, Closet Guy grunts and bangs on the closet door to communicate with Jan-on-a-Tray and the two form an unholy alliance.  Faced with the prospect of Bill’s plans to put her head on Doris’ body, Jan takes the only action a head on a tray can.  She convinces Closet Guy to stop the madness.
Joseph Green wrote and directed The Brain That Wouldn’t Die in 1959, calling it The Black Door, but didn’t release it until 1962.  Filmed at dusk and through cheesecloth, Brain doesn’t impress in the cinematography department.  The score gets points for sleaziness though.  Called The Web and written by Abe Baker and Tony Restaino, the music fits well with the general perversity of the doctor and his body finding mission.  As odd and unsavory as The Brain That Wouldn’t Die can get, it entertains.  The acting of the main characters is pretty solid and the story cracked me up.  The strippers at the burlesque club looked and acted as if they were auditioning for a John Waters film, but that’s half the fun.  While hardly a classic, it is a classic of the B movie genre and since I own at least four copies of it, I’ll watch The Brain That Wouldn’t Die again.  Fun!


We will be happy to hear your thoughts

Leave a reply