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John’s Horror Corner: The Brain (1988), a deliciously bad monster movie about the dangers of television.

April 16, 2022

MY CALL:  Check your brain at the door and enjoy this dumb, cheesy classic. It’s nothing special, but it’s worth a few laughs. Just a fun, campy ride with a big silly monster.  MORE MOVIES LIKE The BrainOther really bad monster movies of similar vein include The Killer Eye (1999) and Brain Damage (1988). For more themes of televised manipulation, try Videodrome (1983).

You know? The world needs more horror movies that show us the monster in the first minute—in all its slimy, rubber monstery goodness. Right out of the gates, this movie reveals how ambitious it is for its budget. The scene in Becky’s (Susannah Hoffmann) room has rubber monster claws and rubber tentacles flailing about bursting through holes in her bedroom walls as the walls clumsily close in on her like an Indiana Jones booby trap. Tentacles and floating brains with strangling spinal cords abound in this wonky low budget horror, and I wouldn’t have it any differently. Director Ed Hunt (Bloody Birthday) crafted something of celebratory hokey status.

A troublemaker at risk of expulsion from his high school, Jim (Tom Bresnahan; Mirror, Mirror) is forced to see Dr. Blake (David Gale; Re-Animator, Bride of Re-Animator, The Guyver), a TV psychology guru who specializes in troubled teens.

Employees at Blake’s mental health facility casually stroll into the “mad scientist lab” where the giant brain monster resides, hooked up to electrodes. The cerebral creature is used to control and alter the thoughts of Blake’s patients. After eating someone, the brain metamorphoses and grows a demonic face with a toothy maw, a prehensile tongue and a taste for teenagers.

After being exposed to the monster’s brain waves, Jim starts hallucinating tentacles that aren’t there and blood where blood shouldn’t be. Realizing that Blake’s “Independent Thoughts” program is brainwashing everyone they know through the TV, Jim and his girlfriend Janet (Cynthia Preston; Pin, Prom Night III, Carrie) can’t trust anyone but each other.

Smalltown teenagers against the odds trying to save themselves, their town and maybe the world, as a hero Jim never seemed to capture the scale and urgency in this movie that we’d expect (e.g., The Blob, The Stuff). The ending is uber-cheesy, pretty dumb and unsatisfying. Don’t think I care, though. It’s worth a few laughs, for sure. The movie was a fun, campy ride.

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