Director: Joseph Green
Writer: Joseph Green
Cast: Herb Evers, Virginia Leith, Leslie Daniel, Adele Lamont, Bonnie Sharie, Paula Maurice, Marilyn Hanold, Bruce Brighton, Arny Freeman, Fred Martin, Lola Mason, Doris Brent, Bruce Kerr, Audrey Devereau, and Eddie Carmel
Composers: Abe Baker and Tony Restaino
Release Date: 8/10/1962
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Driving home with fiancé Dr. Bill Cortner (Herb Evers), Jan Compton (Virginia Leith) is decapitated in an automobile accident. A mad scientist, Dr. Cortner manages to revive Jan’s head in the basement of his country house, where Kurt (Leslie Daniel)—a crippled surgeon and assistant to Dr. Cortner—keeps watch over an 8-foot-tall, facially disfigured monster.
The Brain That Wouldn’t Die offers a clever and original, if ridiculously executed, twist on the Frankenstein legend. The premise of a talking, disembodied head does, however, test the boundaries of credibility—even for a B-grade science fiction film.
By building an air of suspense around Dr. Cortner’s closet-bound creature (later revealed to be the gigantic, grotesquely deformed product of an experiment gone horribly awry), The Brain That Wouldn’t Die makes effective use of an otherwise laughable concept. Worth noting in particular are Kurt’s horrifying descriptions of the monster, which, when accentuated by the guttural, demonic noises generated by said monster, evoke terrible images in the viewer’s mind prior to the climactic reveal.
While searching for a female body on which to graft Jan’s head, Dr. Cortner spends an inordinate amount of time browsing night clubs, residential neighborhoods, and model photo shoots before encountering the perfect specimen—a subplot that severely hampers the pacing of this film.
Following her death and subsequent resurrection, Jan becomes an erudite, philosophizing head who concerns herself only with exacting revenge on Dr. Cortner and his assistant. Though necessary for the direction of Joseph Green’s narrative, the personality transition of Jan—initially a loving and carefree woman—fails to occur in a natural, convincing manner.
Despite suffering from poor production values and tedious exposition, The Brain That Wouldn’t Die contains a thought-provoking (albeit not especially nuanced) statement on the ethical considerations of keeping someone alive against his or her will.
Marred by budgetary constraints, The Brain That Wouldn’t Die will undoubtedly prompt ridicule from the majority of modern audiences. Sci-fi/horror enthusiasts may nevertheless enjoy this production, which combines nauseating gore effects with intelligent commentary on the human condition.
Overall Quality: 6/10
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