The Brain (1988) – Film Review

the brain film review 1988

Director: Edward Hunt
Cast: Tom Bresnahan, Cynthia Preston. Christine Kossak
Certificate: 15

By Roger Crow

While I’m all for a three-hour arthouse epic adapted from a literary classic, sometimes you just need a good schlock horror 90-minute slice of escapism to take your mind off the horrors of the world. And The Brain sets its stall out early with a lab shot and a brain in a tank. We know this would not have won a BAFTA for Best Film.

the brain film review 1988 coverCut to a studio audience who are told how to react, and a creepy host (David Gale) with a lop-sided smile who warns of the dangers of teenagers with too much free thought.

“Gloriously bad”

An average middle-aged mum is hooked, but daughter Becky upstairs is far more wary. She looks like she’s attending a Hellraiser cosplay event with her shaggy brunette locks and baggy white tee shirt. Becky is soon assaulted by monster hands that come out of the TV and through the door, while her bedroom starts closing in on her. She thinks she’s stabbing a tentacle, but it is of course her concerned mum.

I like Becky and think she’ll be an attractive, engaging lead. But, wouldn’t you know it, a brain with a tentacle throws her out of a window. Poor Becky.

When James, the dashing young student hero, rocks up at school in what looks like Christine, the car from Stephen King’s novel, it’s not long before he’s snogging his photogenic girlfriend and pinching her homework. Then he pulls a toilet-based stunt which incurs the wrath of a teacher in a Ferris Bueller/Ed Rooney kind of war of attrition. Our hero just loves pranks, including squirting glue on seats. What fun.

Made the same year as The Blob revamp, this is a gloriously bad low budget disaster with dreadful acting, directing, effects, editing and gags.

Sadly the photogenic Christine Kossak (Three Men and a Baby) doesn’t have much to do except become the subject of an exploitative hallucination, and then is consumed by the eponymous antagonist. Poor Christine.

Brit actor David Gale, who memorably helped Re-Animator become a huge success, is sadly sold short here.

the brain film review 1988 bluray

“Peripheral goodies”

Thankfully the extras are a lot more rewarding, despite a yack track from a slightly bored director Edward Hunt, who discusses his inspirations. Originally it was supposed to be a comedy with Sylvester Stallone as the voice of the brain. (As bad as that might have been, it would still have been better than Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot.)

There’s also an interview with model, actress and artist Cynthia (aka Cyndy) Preston, who looks far better now than when she made the movie.

The HD quality is pretty good, and though the movie is pretty awful, it’s worth a look for all the peripheral goodies, which should inspire any amateur film makers.

Special Features:
• Limited Edition Booklet: Includes ‘Ed Trauma’ by Andrew Graves and ‘Thoughts for Food: TV Terrors and other prevalent anxieties in The Brain’ by Liam Hathaway (NEW)
• Sounds of the Mind: Paul Zaza on the Brain (NEW)
• 2K Scan of the original negative
• Commentary with director Ed Hunt
• Commentary with composer Paul Zaza
• Commentary with actor Tom Bresnahan
• Canada on the Mind – An interview with actress Cynthia Preston
• From Monster Kid to Monster Man – An interview with actor George Buza
• Brain Art – An interview with assistant art director Michael Borthwick
• Food For Thought: A Love Letter To The Brain
• Still Gallery
The Brain is released on Blu-ray by 101 Films, £16.99

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