10th May2017

‘Brain Damage’ Blu-ray Review (Arrow Video)

by Paul Metcalf

Stars: Rick Hearst, Jennifer Lowry, Theo Barnes, Gordon MacDonald, Lucille Saint-Peter, Vicki Darnell, Joseph Gonzalez, Bradlee Rhodes | Written and Directed by Frank Henenlotter


If you are a fan of Frank Henenlotter movies then you know how surreal they are. From Basket Case and Frankenhooker to Bad Biology, Henenlotter has a unique vision of horror. One of his most unusual though handles the subject of drug addiction and is one of his best… THIS is why Brain Damage is a fitting release for Arrow Video.

When Brian (Rick Hearst) wakes up with a small creature attached to his brain stem, things go from odd to odder in no time. Becoming dependant on the narcotic substance that Aylmer (voiced by John Zacherley) the creature pumps into his brain, he soon has to help the creature to obtain living brains.

Henenlotter creates a movie that lives up to what you expect from him, in many ways providing a movie that is better than Basket Case, though I’m not sure if it beats Frankenhooker. There is a serious message behind the chaos and the gore though, and that is the dangers of drug addiction.

With horror movies, you expect a message like Brain Damage has to be taken to the extreme, and that is exactly what we get. The way that Aylmer (or Elmer) takes over its victim’s life and forces them into crime, is what we often see in the same situation with people with bad drug addictions. Where they steal to buy more drugs, Brian finds victims for Aylmer to suck their brains out.

When Brain Damage was first released it was cut, but thankfully this is the uncut version. Included is the very gory oral sex scene as well as the toilet scene which is also particularly bloody. It is interesting to listen to the new commentary track by Frank Henenlotter as he talks about how the film was cut and how hard it was to get past censorship.

Included in the Arrow Video release are plenty of documentaries, along with the new commentary track and isolated score. The best documentary is by far Listen to the Light: The Making of Brain Damage which is new and full of interviews about the making of the film. Fans of not only the film, but the special effects industry behind these cult classics will love some of the interviews that are included as they are very informative about how the impressive effects were created.

What is impressive about Brain Damage is that in many respects it is a movie that has aged well, especially the special effects. There are some scenes in the subway which are questionable, but for the most part, and including Aylmer the practical effects work very well.

Aylmer is a screen monster that you won’t forget in a hurry, something that looks like a talking poop, it has a surprising level of charisma, but that of course a lot of that will be down to the voice work of John Zacharle. Though you also have to pay credit to the team that created the strange little creature.

Arrow Video have released a fitting tribute not only to Brain Damage but also to Frank Henenlotter with this release. We see just how the people behind it loved working on it, and how that love went into making it a good cult movie. If like me you’ve never seen Brain Damage then this is the best time to discover it, especially with the quality this Blu-ray release provides.

***** 5/5

Brain Damage is out now on Blu-ray from Arrow Video.

Review originally posted on PissedOffGeek

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