Castor’s Underrated Hallow’s Eve Gems – The Brain (1988)

Canuckspoilation this is not. It must be a godsend to be an independent filmmaker in Canadian during the 70’s and 80’s considering the lucrative tax incentives that the crew would receive for production there. Films like The Brain were financed to capitalize on that loophole and predominantly, the creature design of Mark Williams which the film splurges no time on revealing after the opening credits.

Was it a contractual obligation for David Gale to beheaded in all of his horror appearances? From this to Re-Animator, Gale is usually a decapitated before the runtime’s cessation. In both films though, he is an academic and sophisticated huckster with an arcane secret. His Independent Thinking program could be construed as a sly satire on the anti-pharmacological craze of L. Ron Hubbard’s Scientology (“He wouldn’t be on TV if he wasn’t any good.”).

Much like Edward Nigma’s brainwashing television waves during Batman Forever, the signal from Independent Thinking spawns nightmarish hallucinations and cult-like fanaticism within the Meadowvale viewers. The first incident is a murder-suicide that will be catnip for H.P. Lovecraft readers (tentacles and unctuous pincers are osmotic through the walls).

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Maybe it’s a side effect of laryngitis but Tom Bresnahan is a whispering wallflower as the George Clooney-like prankster Jim Majelewski. He projects a Tim Matheson smarminess which is a delectable counterpoint to when he must transmute into the crusader against the voracious title leviathan. The cerebrum itself is an inventively atavistic, bulky villain with pulsating teeth and bloodshot eyes. Nevertheless, it lacks a wicked or garrulous personality which obviates it from being a potential franchise headliner.

As such, The Brain is a cockamamie, gonzo throwback to the 50’s monster movies ala The Blob. No one will befuddle this with Ken Russell (the subliminal toplessness is purely prurient), but it is certainly caseous fun (“That’s food for thought” could’ve been a horror catchphrase had the film been a crossover success.).

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