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Dr. Bill Cortner has been performing experimental surgery on human guinea pigs without authorization and against the advice of his father, also a surgeon. When Bill's fiancée Jan Compton is decapitated in an automobile accident, he manages to keep her brain alive. He now needs to find a new body for his bride-to-be and settles on Doris Powell, a glamor model with a facial disfigurement. Jan meanwhile doesn't want to continue her body-less existence and calls upon the creature hidden in the basement, one of Bill Cortner's unsuccessful experiments, to break loose. Written by
THE BRAIN THAT WOULDN'T DIE was considered so distasteful in 1959 that several cuts and the passage of three years was required before it was released in 1962. Today it is difficult to imagine how anyone could have taken the thing seriously even in 1959; the thing is both lurid and lewd, but it is also incredibly ludicrous in a profoundly bumptious sort of way.
The story, of course, concerns a doctor who is an eager experimenter in transplanting limbs--and when his girl friend is killed in a car crash he rushes her head to his secret lab. With the aid of a few telephone cords, a couple of clamps, and what looks very like a shallow baking pan, he brings her head back to life. But is she grateful? Not hardly. In fact, she seems mightily ticked off about the whole thing, particularly when it transpires that the doctor plans to attach her head to another body.
As it happens, the doctor is picky about this new body: he wants one built for speed, and he takes to cruising disconcerted women on city sidewalks, haunting strip joints, visiting body beautiful contests, and hunting down cheesecake models in search of endowments that will raise his eyebrow. But back at the lab, the head has developed a chemically-induced psychic link with another one of the doctor's experiments, this one so hideous that it is kept locked out of sight in a handy laboratory closet. Can they work together to get rid of the bitter and malicious lab assistance, wreck revenge upon the doctor, and save the woman whose body he hankers for? Could be! Leading man Jason Evers plays the roguish doctor as if he's been given a massive dose of Spanish fly; Virginia Leith, the unhappy head, screeches and cackles in spite of the fact that she has no lungs and maybe not even any vocal chords. Busty babes gyrate to incredibly tawdry music, actors make irrational character changes from line to line, the dialogue is even more nonsensical than the plot, and you'll need a calculator to add up the continuity goofs. On the whole THE BRAIN THAT WOULDN'T DIE comes off as even more unintentionally funny than an Ed Wood movie.
Director Joseph Green actually manages to keep the whole thing moving at pretty good clip, and looking at the film today it is easy to pick out scenes that influenced later directors, who no doubt saw the thing when they were young and impressionable and never quite got over it. The cuts made before the film went into release are forever lost, but the cuts made for television have been restored in the Alpha release, and while the film and sound quality aren't particularly great it's just as well to recall that they probably weren't all that good to begin with.
Now, this is one of those movies that you'll either find incredibly dull or wildly hilarious, depending on your point of view, so it is very hard to give a recommendation. But I'll say this: if your tastes run to the likes of Ed Wood or Russ Meyers, you need to snap this one up and now! Four stars for its cheesy-bizarreness alone! GFT, Amazon Reviewer
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