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“[It’s in the] contemporary LSD/monster-movie genre. On second thought, I guess there’s no such thing. Let’s just call it a bizarre monster movie.”–Frank Henenlotter, asked to describe the film’s genre in 1988
DIRECTED BY: Frank Henenlotter
FEATURING: Rick Hearst, Jennifer Lowry, Gordon MacDonald, voice of John Zacherle
PLOT: Young New Yorker Brian wakes up one morning to find that a small snake-like creature, “Elmer,” has escaped from his neighbor’s apartment and drilled a hole in the back of his head. Elmer secretes a powerful euphoric hallucinogen, which he injects directly into Brian’s brain; the young man is quickly addicted to the rush. But Elmer also requires human brains to function, and plans on using Brian to harvest them.
- Frank Henenlotter made has debut, Basket Case, in 1981 for $35,000. For seven years he was unable to raise funds to make the kind of follow-up film he wanted, until Cinema Group put up a reported $1.5 million for Brain Damage.
- John Zacherle (the voice of Elmer/Aylmer) was a noted horror host in Philadelphia and New York City who went by the moniker “the Cool Ghoul.” Henenlotter, a fan who grew up watching Zacherle, convinced him to join the production. Zacherle wasn’t credited because he was a member of the Screen Actors Guild and this was a non-union set.
- Crew members reportedly walked off the set during the “blow job” scene. This bad taste sequence was also cut from early theatrical and television prints to preserve an “R” rating.
- The movie was partly inspired by Henenlotter’s experiences with giving up cocaine.
INDELIBLE IMAGE: With all of the crazy hallucinations, brain cam footage, and grossout gore scenes, it’s almost easy to lose sight of the strangest image in this movie: the Aylmer itself, a talking cross between a penis and a turd with cartoon eyes.
TWO WEIRD THINGS: Blue juice at the synapse; pulsing meatball brains
WHAT MAKES IT WEIRD: The psychedelic trip sequences, intriguingly urbane penile villain, and a general sensibility of depraved unreality elevate this gore-horror into something stranger than the usual VHS exploitation dreck.
Original trailer for Brain Damage
COMMENTS: As an allegory, Brain Damage couldn’t be more obvious—or apt. Indeed, if drug addiction could talk,it would sound just Continue reading 33*. BRAIN DAMAGE (1988)