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“THE BRAIN THAT WOULDN’T DIE” (Blu-ray Review)

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For cult-minded fright fanatics, there will always be an unironic spot in our hearts for old, bonkers sci-fi horrors of the ‘50s and ‘60s. Often amalgamations between psychological thrillers and creature features, these films preyed upon the fears of progressive science as a breeding ground for deviancy and god complexes with frequently insane results. Luckily for those who adore these strange cinematic time capsules, one of the craziest and surprisingly well-crafted entries from this era has made its way to the high definition world courtesy of Scream Factory: THE BRAIN THAT WOULDN’T DIE!

For those unfamiliar with the film, THE BRAIN THAT WOULDN’T DIE follows Dr. Bill Cortner, a surgeon who discovers a method who keeping body parts alive even in cases of death. After an accident decapitates his fiancee and destroys her body, Cortner resuscitates her head until he can find a suitable body for her to inhabit. However, while Cortner goes on the prowl for an attractive woman to which he can make the appropriate transplant, his fiancee’s new hate-filled outlook on her disposition leads to her plotting a fatal revenge against her lover and anyone who aids him in his immoral experiments.

THE BRAIN THAT WOULDN’T DIE jumps between sci-fi-tinged fright flick, filled with the FX-driven campiness that one expects from these golden-era genre films, and sleaze-filled creepshow, defined by genuinely impressive cinematography and scandalous dialogue. In that sense, THE BRAIN THAT WOULDN’T DIE is certainly a cult movie in its own right but doesn’t quite fall into the laughably bad territory that some of its less-capable counterparts may reside. Nevertheless, for those expecting THE FLY or THE TINGLER, this is certainly more weird and less emotional than those particular outings, and despite the best efforts of filmmaker Joseph Green, THE BRAIN THAT WOULDN’T DIE does often get looked over in the bigger landscape of AIP’s cult classics.

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Unsurprisingly, however, is that THE BRAIN THAT WOULDN’T DIE gets an incredibly strong high definition transfer from the good folks over at Scream Factory. In terms of picture quality, Scream Factory goes above and beyond to provide the film with a crisp, deep picture from the original negative, retaining natural film grain while allowing for gorgeous clarity in the black-and-white image. Meanwhile, the DTS-HD Master Mono audio transfer presents a solid range and well-mixed track that offers proper emphasis on dialogue and score throughout.

Yet perhaps the reason THE BRAIN THAT WOULDN’T DIE is a disc for horror hounds to look into is the impressive assembly of features that appear on this release. Aside from the uncut version of the film, Scream Factory also includes the full MYSTERY SCIENCE THEATER 3000 version of the film as well, providing fans of the film via that hilarious avenue more bang for their buck. Furthermore, the specialty distributor offers a brand new commentary track from film historian Steve Haberman and writer Tony Sasso, featuring a wholly different and more informed perspective than cult film fans might expect. Lastly, this disc sports an alternate scene from the international cut, a thoroughly entertaining theatrical trailer and a still gallery, rounding out a surprisingly loaded disc for a relatively obscure horror outing.

Overall, THE BRAIN THAT WOULDN’T DIE is such a strange beast taken on its merits alone, but luckily, the legacy of the film has helped usher this cult classic into an inarguably fantastic Blu-ray release. It’s a strong finish in an already incredible year for Scream Factory, and one that works not only for fans of crazy ‘60s sci-fi chillers but high-def collectors who want to add some sleazy vintage shock value to their horror roster.

About the author
Ken W. Hanley
Ken W. Hanley is the Managing Web Editor for FANGORIA and STARLOG, as well as the former Web Editor for Diabolique Magazine and a contributing writer to YouWonCannes.com. He’s a graduate from Montclair State University, where he received an award for Excellence in Screenwriting. He’s currently working on screenplays, his debut novel "THE I IN EVIL", and various other projects, and can be followed on Twitter: @movieguyiguess.
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