THE BRAIN THAT WOULDN'T DIE
1959 (released in 1962)/Director: Joseph Green/Writers: Rex Carlton, Joseph Green
Cast: Jason (Herb) Evers, Virginia Leith, Leslie Daniels, Adele Lamont, Bonnie Sharie, Paula Maurice, Marilyn Hanold, Bruce Brighton
For me, the sordid atmosphere of the film is a little too genuine; it negates the kitsch appeal. A scene featuring two strippers engaged in a “cat fight” is particularly unseemly. As the women wrestle each other, the camera pans to some wall prints of cats, and then we hear a feline yowl just as the scene ends. This juvenile attempt at humor only enhances the squalid feel of the movie.
From: Exclamation Mark
The 1962 AIP film The That Wouldn’t Die is a film I have always been aware of –in the particular the poster art featuring ‘Jan in the Pan’- but had never seen in the course of my long life. One reason is that I just felt I would not like it. I could not imagine how exciting a disembodied head in a pan would be, Stuart Gordon’s superb Re-Animator not withstanding. I had had the film here for a few months before I decided one night (actually more like one morning) I decided to pop in it the DVD player and have to put me off to sleep. Rather than helping me nod off I stayed up and finished the film in one sitting which is something I have to confess I seldom do with some most schlock cinema offerings. As the quote from the engaging blog Exclamation Mark notes the film has a reputation for being ahead of its time in the sleazy atmosphere department. That reputation is slightly warranted and the film is hardly as sordid and slimy as the above quote makes it sound to be but it has it pricelss moments to be sure.
Jan Compton: Darling I'm so proud of you I could you.
Bill Cortner: Promises eh, always promises? (Bill starts to kiss Jan)
Jan Compton: Careful, your father is liable to report us?
Dr. Cortner: Huh... stop the floor show? When you towe are married it won't be fun to watch anymore.
When they get to the lab though things have gotten a bit out of hand. Or arm out of socket actually. Kurt earlier turns into a real rude character and Jan ain’t having it and has the thing rip Kurt’s other arm off from the little hole in the door where Kurt feeds the things slabs of meat. If Kurt’s medical career was in doubt before it is all over now with both arms gone. He slides along the walls and smears blood everywhere in one of the scenes cut form the theatrical version of the film. Bill has slipped Doris a mickey and is not going to let this minor set back stand in his way. But Jan is has no intention of letting Bill kill and innocent girl and sew her head on to a strange new –and probably much sexier- body. She again calls on the thing and it bursts from the closet and we get to see it finally. Actually this is not a bad looking monster that is played by ‘giant’ Eddie Carmel despite criticisms online. Much ado is made about being able to see the mask coming unraveled or something but I never saw it and I was looking for it. In the second scene to be trimmed by AIP the things bites off a chunk of Bill’s face and spits it out on the floor where the camera lingers on the mass of flesh for a few seconds. The monster set the lab ablaze and the film ends with Jan’s closing lines “I told you, you should have let me die.”
This is kind of film fare that divides the masses. It is something you will either scoff at or shut off in disbelief, or like me you will write a post on your cult movie site about that is longer than the last ten emails combined that I wrote to my dear old mother. This is true psychotronic fare and do not wait as long as I did to see it. Be sure to find the restored and uncut version to see the gory scenes. Consider that a heads up.