Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Brain Damage - 3.5/5

Like director Frank Henenlotter's first film Basket Case, Brain Damage threw me for a loop when I first saw it in high school. I just found it too bizarre for me too truly like. However just like Basket Case, Brain Damage has new found respect by this horror lover and it gets regular spins in my DVD player.

What would Frank Henenlotter film be without some strange little monster? Instead of Belial we get Aylmer, a parasitic worm with eyes and speaks with some chipper foreign accent. Can you accept that? If not then don't watch a Frank Henenlotter film! Our Parasite Aylmer escapes from his previous owners apartment and attaches himself (or itself?) to the back of the neck of a young man who lives down the hall. You see our little parasite excretes a drug into its victims and gets them addicted in order to use them to get the only food he eats. What food would that be you ask? Something easily obtained at the local convince store? Hell no as this bastard eats human brains!

So our drug addicted youth starts hitting the streets at night to feed his addiction and his parasite, worrying the hell out of his girlfriend and his roommate brother. He tries to kick the habit but of course that results badly and we truck along to a truly explosive climax.

The film is filled with Henenlotter's trademark over-the top gore, humor and perverseness but the underlying meaning is anti-drug... violently anti-drug. Fans just looking for a bloody time will also be thrilled as our parasite loves to burrow its way into people's heads. I remember the back of my old Paramount VHS box having a picture of our main character Brian ('s close to the spelling of Brain. Get it?!) pulling a mass of bloody brain matter out of his ear. I remember being a little disappointed that that sequence was nowhere to be found in the film. Well later I find out my crappy VHS version was the BUTCHERED R-Rated cut and my DVD from Synapse Films is fully uncut in all its bloody glory. I never knew how much I was missing! There was even a controversial sequence when Brian takes Aylmer to a dance club. While there he meets up with a girl who decides to go down on him. Aylmer then flies out of Brian's zipper to eat her brains through her mouth and thus making it look like she really is sucking his one-eyed monster. Holy shit! I can see why the MPAA didn't like that and demanded it cut! Definitely not a good film to make a double feature with Herbie Goes Bananas on family night.

That shockingly perverse sequence aside, this is truly a good horror flick with acceptable acting, underlying anti-drug meanings, and solid direction by Frank Hennenlotter (who provides some really creative "high on drugs" sequences). It's great to see a film of his with an actual budget! This proves this man can create original, bizarre stuff again and again if just given a chance. Fans of Basket Case need to keep an open eye as Duane and his trademark wicker basket make an appearance on the subway train.

Written By Eric Reifschneider

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