‘The Brain That Wouldn’t Die’ Horror Movie Review: Weird Science [Screamfest]
The Brain That Wouldn’t Die is either a remake of the 1962 film of the same title and premise, or a spoof of it. Or, possibly both. Like a ’60s black and white horror film, the tone of the 2020 Brain is melodramatic in dialogue and performance. It is in color, but the music sounds like it could literally be the score to a 1962 movie. Only the red blood sprays indicate absurdly graphic gore that movie prior to the MPAA ratings system would never allow.
The plot of ‘The Brain That Wouldn’t Die’ as it were
The title is pretty self-explanatory, but there is a plot, presumably. Bill (Patrick D. Green) is a surgeon who proposes unorthodox methods to save patients. When his girlfriend, Jan (Rachael Perrell Fosket) is decapitated in an automobile accident, Bill is able to keep her head and brain alive.
Now, he’s just looking for a body to attach Jan to. Bill goes about looking for potential bodies in humorously unsuccessful ways. The old Brain That Wouldn’t Die probably wouldn’t have thought of some of these sources, so that makes it new. Jan isn’t too happy to be a head either, although she spends most of her time yelling at Bill’s lab assistant Kurt (Jason Reynolds) because Bill is busy looking for bodies.
This really is a scene for scene, and in some cases word for word, remake of the original film. The only difference is in 1962, it was contemporary. Every horror movie was like that. Now, it is intentionally, deliberately retro.
Does ‘The Brain That Wouldn’t Die’ get old?
Props to writer Hank Huffman and director Derek Carl for maintaining this tone through the whole movie. Your mileage may vary as to how long it remains fresh, but the filmmakers an actors all commit.
Occasionally there are movies that attempt to recreate an older style in modern day. Another Screamfest horror movie Lost After Dark did it for ’80s slasher movies, and there was The Lost Skeleton of Cadavra. Steven Soderbergh did a highbrow version of an old time movie with The Good German.
When the remake becomes a spoof
The Brain That Wouldn’t Die does lean more into spoof of its namesake. They add satire to the melodrama as cappers to scenes point out the absurdity of the scene to which the characters have committed seriously. They even watch the 1962 original at one point, making it both meta and canon. Yet, this also works as nostalgic melodrama for an era when movies weren’t over being sincere about absurd premises.
Screamfest allows all kinds of horror in its program and The Brain That Wouldn’t Die is definitely a horror-comedy. There’s probably nothing in it that would scare a 2020 audience, unless ’60s monsters still scare you. That’s just as valid a horror movie and if it’s funny gore you’re looking for, look for The Brain That Wouldn’t Die after Screamfest.