June 2017


Brain Damage
Arrow Films/MVD
Blu-ray Review By: Jaime Pina

Coming 6 years after their low budget masterpiece Basket Case, producer Edgar Ievins and writer/director Frank Hennenlotter delivered a film, much like their first, that offers something you have never seen before. Like Basket Case, it is a monster flick, but with a creature that is completely non-traditional. They also once again cast a kooky bunch of characters with Basket Case stars Kevin Van Hentenryck and Beverly Bonner making guest appearances.

Brian is a young man with posters of the Cramps, Bauhaus and Suicide in his room. He misses a date with his girlfriend because he doesn’t feel well. At the same time an elderly couple in the building with an exceptional collection of tribal folk art are freaking out because something they own has seemingly escaped them. After Brian’s brother has agreed to take the girlfriend to the concert Brian meets the creature the elderly couple are frantically searching for.

In a way, Hennenlotter’s menagerie of creatures mimics the horror film cycle of the 30’s with Basket Case as his Freaks, Brain Damage as his Dracula and Frankenhooker, of course, as his Frankenstein. Each creature has a sympathetic side to them that draws the viewer in to Hennenlotter’s offbeat visions. Telling his stories straight from the heart, it makes these films special like Island of Dr. Moreau or Spider Baby.

Instead of fog shrouded European villages Hennenlotter uses the seedy side of the neon lit New York underbelly to stage his stories. The sequence where Brian decides to have a showdown with the creature takes place in a room in a hotel that could be right across the street from the Hotel Broslin of Basket Case. Being that the Aylmer is a creature of many myths, it is fitting that he lands in New York, one of the great port cities of the world.

The previous DVD edition of Brain Damage was a real winner as far as picture and sound quality and extras, and once again Arrow makes a convincing case to upgrade. The Blu-ray looks and sounds incredible. A film like this that uses colors and sound to maximum effect in all ways deserves a presentation like this. The extras are new and old and essential for fans of this very special film. And even though John Zacherele, the “Cool Ghoul” horror film host and rock n’ roll singer is un-credited as the voice of the Aylmer, he is well represented here in the extras. The Arrow release is a limited edition Blu-ray/DVD combo with reversible cover and booklet.