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‘Brain Damage’ is Insanely Glorious ‘80s Magic

Brain Damage image

Directed by: Frank Henenlotter

Cast: Rick Hearst, Gordon MacDonald, Jennifer Lowry

Arrow Films hasn’t let me down yet. I’ve caught a number of brilliant, over-the-top terror and amazing exploitation. One of Arrow’s latest restorations (this one looks absolutely gorgeous) juggles both the outrageous and the beautiful exploitation I’ve come to love over the years. In other words, there are very few companies getting it as right as Arrow Films. These guys are restoring films for fans just like me.

As for Brain Damage, well, it’s a riot from the jump to the final moments.

The story follows a young man who inadvertently comes into contact with a monster of sorts. But this isn’t necessarily your typical monster. No, this one attaches itself to the back of the spinal column and injects a nasty blue goo in its host. The catch? That blue goo provides for an amazing high that Brian – our protagonist – can’t seem to get enough… even after he learns that the monstrosity that’s fixed itself to the young man must kill random strangers to keep his goo nice and powerful, and his host nice and high. But when the reality of it all sinks in, Brian must make a terribly difficult choice: kick the supernatural goo and go sober, or allow this strange phallic shaped monster to continue killing and providing him with a euphoric sensation that he’s clearly keen on.

I’m not out to spoil any potential twists, but I can tell you that the flick is brilliant. It’s everything an ‘80s movie should be: fun, disgusting, outrageous and absurd. In short, it’s effin’ brilliant!

The onscreen performances aren’t exactly magnificent, but acting seems to take a back seat to a picture that features a confused young man having lengthy conversations with an alien of unknown origins.

We get a ton of awesome (often intentionally silly) makeup work and prosthetics. We get some nice set pieces and a strong dose of the depraved. The body count piles high, and confusion slowly sets in for our unlikely hero. It all comes together in a whirlwind of sheer insanity that’s going to have you laughing until you cry. Of all the “forgotten” gems of the ‘80s, Brain Damage is most certainly one of the more engaging.

If you let this one fly under the radar, we recommend you take a gander: Brain Damage is a blast… it’s even better with a cold 12-pack!

We’re treated to a small handful of bonus material, including some kick ass featurettes like Listen to the Light: The Making of Brain Damage, The Effects of Brain Damage, Animating Elmer, Karen Ogle: A Look Back and Elmer’s Turf: The NYC Locations of Brain Damage. The truth is, the bonus supplements are actually pretty beefy, with my personal favorites being Listen to the Light and Animating Elmer. Now having said that, there isn’t a weak bonus feature in the lineup, so if you dig bountiful bonuses, you’ve got to track down Brain Damage!

Be sure to tune into Arrow for tons of amazing throwback and rare flicks!

Rating: 3.5/5

Brain Damage Poster 1988

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About The Overseer (2283 Articles)
Author of Say No to Drugs, writer for Blumhouse, Dread Central, Horror Novel Reviews and Addicted to Horror Movies.

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