Plot: Independent Thinkers is a popular new television program, one that has ratings going through the roof with each new episode. The viewers can’t seem to get enough of host Dr. Blakely (David Gale) and his self help advice, though the show isn’t his sole source of research. He also runs the Psychological Research Institute, where he comes up with experiments of all kinds, including some that involve mind control. As it turns out, the institute happens to be home to a very special experiment, a massive brain like creature that feeds on humans. But Blakely has been able to keep his project a secret, though some viewers of his program have turned violent, thanks to the brain’s sadistic mind control powers. Meanwhile, a mischievous teen named Jim (Tom Bresnahan) has been assigned to the institute to work out his antisocial behaviors and Blakely takes advantage, using the teen as his scapegoat. Can Jim clear his name and expose the brain to the world, or will Blakely and his mysterious brain friend continue to grow in power and take over the planet?
Entertainment Value: A lot of movies promise the world with their titles, only to come up short, but The Brain delivers and then some. There is indeed a brain in a prominent role here, but not just any old brain, an epic, hall of fame level brain that will win over your heart, then eat you alive. The narrative is an interesting one and it keeps you reeled in, even in the scenes without our good friend the brain, with a troubled teen on the run from the law routine. Who knew flushing sodium would lead our delinquent hero into this kind of frame-up? The movie is also quite concerned over the misuse of sodium, even tacking on a disclaimer in the credits, so please treat sodium responsibly, or the brain will be displeased. This one has about all you can want from a killer brain movie, with a good amount of brain attacks, mind control mayhem, and teen pranks, plus David Gale is on hand, always a plus. The pace is good and the finale ramps up to a fun, over the top finale, so the entertainment value here is high and consistent. I’d recommend The Brain to anyone who appreciates horror movies, oddball cinema, or just wants to see a giant brain eat people.
The sleaze quotient is on the low end here, but we do have a topless woman around during a hallucination sequence. The peek at the perkers isn’t brief either, so there is that. As this is a movie about a murderous brain, there is some bloodshed as you’d expect, as well as some cool creature effects. The brain monster looks better than you might think, still steeped in b movie vibes perhaps, but it looks super cool and is more active than most rubber creatures. I love that we see the brain swallow someone whole, as it is such a cool scene, especially as the teeth clamp on the poor victim’s head. You also have a quite hilarious decapitation scene, a wife trims her husband’s waistline when he refuses to watch television, another head is lopped off, tentacles abound, and a steering wheel gets a little too affectionate. Not a blood soaked romp, but between the brain attacks and the cool creature effects, some points are earned here. The dialogue has a few bright spots and offbeat exchanges, usually from Jim, but this isn’t the film’s strong point. There’s definitely some weirdness afoot in The Brain, from the brain itself to the teddy bear with bleeding eyes to the abundance of tentacles. So it might not be off the deep end, but it has some quirks, without question.
Overall Insanity: 3/10
The Disc: The Brain has been spruced up with a new 2k scan of the only known film elements, via Scream Factory’s Blu-ray release. The print looks good, with a lot less debris and age signs than I expected. The natural grain is present, so this looks film-like and that’s a plus, of course. I found detail to be good and even great in some scenes, with a lot of textures that pop to life and other small visible touches evident. I can’t imagine most fans ever expected The Brain to look this good, so this new scan is going to be well received. A host of new extras have been crafted for this release, including a trio of audio commentaries, with director Ed Hunt, star Tom Bresnahan, and composer Paul Zaza all given solo sessions. You can also watch over half an hour of new interviews, hear from a super fan of the movie, and check out some still photos.