6.7/10
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51 user 96 critic

Brain Damage (1988)

One morning, a young man wakes to find that a small, disgusting creature has attached itself to the base of his brain stem. The creature gives him a euphoric state of happiness but demands human victims in return.

Director:

Frank Henenlotter
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Rick Hearst ... Brian (as Rick Herbst)
Gordon MacDonald Gordon MacDonald ... Mike
Jennifer Lowry ... Barbara
Theo Barnes ... Morris
Lucille Saint-Peter ... Martha
Vicki Darnell ... Blonde in Hell
Joseph Gonzalez ... Guy in shower (as Joe Gonzales)
Bradlee Rhodes ... Night watchman
Michael Bishop ... Toilet victim
Beverly Bonner ... Neighbor
Ari M. Roussimoff Ari M. Roussimoff ... Biker (as Ari Roussimoff)
Michael Rubenstein Michael Rubenstein ... Bum in alley
Angel Figueroa Angel Figueroa ... Junkie
John Reichert John Reichert ... Policeman
Don Henenlotter Don Henenlotter ... Policeman
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Storyline

A normal, average guy who lives in New York City becomes dependent on an evil, disembodied brain. The brain feeds the guy a narcotic substance in exchange for his unwilling assistance in obtaining the brains of innocent victims for sustenance. This turns into a tour of circa-1980s underground NYC clubs, backlots, and other seedy locations. One scene features the band Swimming Pool Cues playing the song "Corruption." Written by Mark Logan <marklo@west.sun.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

The movie that will blow your mind! See more »

Genres:

Comedy | Horror

Certificate:

R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

25 May 1988 (France) See more »

Also Known As:

Brain Damage (La maledizione di Elmer) See more »

Filming Locations:

New York City, New York, USA

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Box Office

Budget:

$900,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Palisades Partners See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (uncut)

Sound Mix:

Mono

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

In a 2016 interview, Frank Hennenlotter said one of his favorite things about shooting in 35mm was that he couldn't misplace the camera as easily as he did with the 16mm camera he used on Basket Case See more »

Goofs

When Brian wakes up bloody, the blood on his left hand disappears and reappears between shots. See more »

Quotes

Aylmer: You're a wreck, Brian. You've got to relax. Why don't you put me on your neck and 'calm down?'
Brian: No way! It's not gonna happen again!
Aylmer: What isn't?
Brian: Killing people!
Aylmer: Oh.
[laughs]
Aylmer: I thought you meant getting high!
Brian: We can't keep killing people every time you're hungry!
Aylmer: Oh yes we can. We'll do anything I want us to do. You're mine now, Brian. I *own* you...
See more »

Crazy Credits

In the end titles, listed under "Historical Research" is BABE WOZENTHAL. According Frank Henenlotter on the DVD's commentary, this was a joke about Jerry Lewis in "The Errand Boy." See more »

Alternate Versions

Paramount video release deletes the gory nightclub fellatio and ear-pulling scenes to avoid an 'X' rating. See more »

Connections

Featured in Karen Ogle: A Look Back (2017) See more »

Soundtracks

Corruption
by J. Calder, A. Boston, J.E. Garnett, B. Elsey, & B. Burton
Performed by The Swimming Pool Q's
Courtesy of Irving Music, Inc.
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more »

User Reviews

Juice me up! Henenlotter's most entertaining work
19 February 2003 | by doktor dSee all my reviews

Frank Henenlotter's 'Brain Damage' (1987) is easily the director's best film, esp. when considering the solid performances, technical proficiency and fascinating storyline. Aylmer, a rather large, penis-shaped parasite, gives unsuspecting Brian brain damage by getting him hooked on an hallucinogenic, blue fluid that Aylmer himself produces. Oh, the colors! But the thousand-year-old worm-like parasite demands something in return for the buzz - human brains! Aylmer and his actions seem to be a metaphor for drug use and addiction and convey very graphically how substances foreign to our bodies can alter our own thoughts and actions.

Henenlotter adds context and meaning to the proceedings by creating a history for Aylmer. The parasite was sold and stolen over the centuries, until it finally ended up in the possession of Brian's neighbors. But the neighbors deprived Aylmer of his needs in order to keep him weak, and that's where the story begins. Henenlotter's films are never without heavy doses of sick humor, and the perverse highlight here is a sequence depicting a disco-whore getting her brains screwed out - literally - through her mouth. If that's not enough, the special effects in the restaurant scene, complete with spaghetti and brainballs, are particularly polished and satisfying. Ultimately, the director outplays his hand and is left with nowhere to go. Despite this weak ending, 'Brain Damage' is an odd, effective story and film, a major step up from the director's debut, 'Basket Case', but every bit as twisted. >


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