26 user 13 critic

The Brain Machine (1977)

PG-13 | | Sci-Fi, Thriller | 1972 (USA)
Several people volunteer for a scientific experiment about mind-reading and memory, but the experiment goes horribly wrong.


Joy N. Houck Jr.


Thomas Hal Phillips (story and screenplay), Christian Garrison (story and screenplay) | 1 more credit »




Cast overview, first billed only:
James Best ... Rev. Emory Neill
Barbara Burgess Barbara Burgess ... Dr. Carol Portland
Gil Peterson ... Dr. Elton Morris
Gerald McRaney ... Willie West
Marcus J. Grapes Marcus J. Grapes ... Judd Reeves
Doug Collins Doug Collins ... Dr. Roland Roth
Ann Latham ... Minnie Lee Parks (as Anne Latham)
Thomas Hal Phillips Thomas Hal Phillips ... The General (as Thomas Phillips)
Christian Garrison Christian Garrison ... Garrison
Stocker Fontelieu Stocker Fontelieu ... Saxon
Tom Dever ... Bodyguard
Stuart Lancaster ... Senator
Zephirin Hymel IV Zephirin Hymel IV ... Dr. Krisner (as Zephirin Hymel)
Sam Sherrill Sam Sherrill ... A Guard
Stephen C. Burnham Stephen C. Burnham ... Williams


Several people volunteer for a scientific experiment about mind-reading and memory, but the experiment goes horribly wrong.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


It Has No Conscience,It Shows No Mercy.


Sci-Fi | Thriller

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG-13 for some violence and sexual content | See all certifications »

Did You Know?


The lettering style of the credits looks the same as those in Mannix. See more »


In the scene where the computer first fails, the boom mic is clearly visible in the center of the top of the screen after the close-up of the technician. The boom mic is also seen in the pool scene and when James Best is talking in another scene. See more »


Judd Reeves: He was killed! You scientific bird brain!
See more »

User Reviews

Confusing and messy but I kind of like it
23 January 2014 | by Red-BarracudaSee all my reviews

While I watched The Brain Machine I thought I must be kind of dumb because I had to keep on rewinding it in order to follow what was going on. I thought it was pretty bad that I was having so much bother understanding an exploitation flick. But subsequently, I have read other reviews and discovered that thankfully I was not alone and it seems to be generally felt that this is one confusing sci-fi thriller. It's about a secret government sponsored experiment where four volunteers are put through a series of tests that cause them to relive dark psychological events from their past including murder and war flash-backs. That makes it sound relatively straightforward but boy it sure isn't. It's edited together in such a way that it's difficult following not only what is going on but also who is who. While it's never in the least bit obvious what the point of the experiment actually is in the first place. The Brain Machine itself is sort of vaguely defined, although lawn chairs with sensors do seem to be an important component of it. There is also a room in which the test subjects are located in which the walls shrink in, which is a way of testing the psychological consequences of overpopulation! It's so random and strange. We have good people and bad people but it's not always even obvious what their motivations are, so character actions are also somewhat eccentric to say the least.

But despite being very low budget and shoddily made, there is something consistently interesting about this film nevertheless. It's kind of endearing that a film with so little money and made for an exploitation audience is so ambitious. While it may not achieve its goals exactly, it falls short in an entertaining and intriguing enough manner. Its very incomprehensibility actually probably does it some favours too, in that you can watch this again and discover new aspects. Like a lot of 70's movies it has a paranoid thriller element, where the government are up to no good. The mixture of conspiracy film intrigue with science fiction works pretty well. It stars a couple of notable people with James 'The Dukes of Hazzard' Best a pervy priest and Stuart 'Russ Meyer' Lancaster as the Senator. I got to say I liked this one's clunky charm and while the story-line is messy, it was at least a little bit different. And that counts for quite a lot.

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Release Date:

1972 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Gray Matter See more »

Filming Locations:

Mississippi, USA

Company Credits

Production Co:

Howco Productions Inc. See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:




Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »

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