Friday, June 15, 2012

Films In The Attic:Brain Damage: Frank gives us a piece of his "mind"

Frank Henenlotter if you don't know his films you probably should stop reading and buy everything hes done NOW!
Weird and wild, Frank is the king of expoliation films and quiet "frankly" films New York like nobody else. The film were dusting off and looking at is his 1988 Brain Damage.

Title: Brain Damage

Year: 1988

Director: Frank Henenlotter

This is a story about a boy and his brain eating penis shaped pal Elmer.Sound like the plot of the new Disney/Pixar movie? Nope It`s the classic drug,monster gore fest Brain Damage.

The Plot:
Brian (clever play on Brain) becomes the unwilling host to a horrific creature named Elmer. At first Elmer shows his host a wild trip but things soon take a hard left turn when he soon discovers that his new friend has a taste for human brains. Will Brian be able to stop his unquenchable thirst for blood or will he be in for one hell of a head ache.

The Review:
This film is equal parts funny and brilliant. Brain Damage was that dying breed of over the top splatter fests that include Street Trash and Dead Alive. Not only does this film not think outside the box it takes gasoline and a match and sets the box on fire! As with all of Henenlotters films the story is cleverly written with characters that are strange but always interesting.  As always the story is fresh and original something that is seriously missing these days.

I love his take on drugs in the era of Nancy`s "Just say no" bullshit. Not since "The Tingler" has a film married both monsters and drugs into one very fun film with no preachy messages. Though I guess you could make the case this is an anti-drug movie believe me its no after school special.  Frank doing an after school special how cool would that be- I digress.

Now don't get me wrong Basket Case is a awesome film, having said that this is clearly a more polished exercise in film making. Its also clear that this film was given a bigger budget. As I said before Frank can really film New York and capture not only the look of it, but the feel with all the dirty scummy grim, you can almost smell the garbage on the streets and the unwashed winos. 

The special effects are great, with the Elmer creature looking both menacing yet charming at the same time, everything the character called for. It really is a horrific joy to behold. Horror host legend Zacharly the cool ghoul provides the voice and knocks it out of the park, his performance goes hand in hand with the brain munching machine. Gore is spewed across the screen and unlike some eighties films the effects aren't dated. Love showing these ti friends and watch them cringe. Their is a great scene involving a woman getting more then she bargained for when hooking up with our hapless hero. This is one of my top all time gross out moments and one your likely to not forget.  Both funny and tasteless! 

The cast is fresh, Rick Hearst plays Brian the very unlucky host of Elmer. He brings high energy with out going to over the top cartoonish. Frank sometimes gets cited for not being able to write well for his female characters and while I think that's true to a certain degree it doesn't effect the overall product. In an interview with Fangoria he`s quoted as saying  "I`ve never been very interested in any other characters other then the hero and the monster." There are some very fun cameos by the cast members from his previous film Basket Case. Kevin Van Hentenryck reprises his role as Dwayne in a great moment in the film. Also the lovely Beverly Bonner also pops up.

Brain Damage hearkens back to a time when not all gore films were harsh torture porn, but fun over the top brain chewing entertainment. With a clever story and Franks trademarked off the wall characters this film is a must for cult film lovers who need a little brain destroying good time.


  1. I think I saw this! It sounds really familiar. Just in case, I think I should watch it again though. :)

    ~Misty, Cinema Schminema

  2. Cool blog Mike. If you dig Brain Damage, you might be interested in this: