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THE BRAIN THAT WOULDN'T DIE - 4 Slimes
Unrated
Copyright 1962 Rex Carlton Productions
Reviewed by Andrew Borntreger on 10 August 2008

The Characters:  

  • Bill Cortner - He invented a miraculous serum that rejuvenates living tissue and selectively suppresses the body's immune system to facilitate transplant operations. It took some time, and more than a few hideous mistakes, but the formula is now perfect. He owns more than one convertible automobile.
  • Jan Compton - She loved Bill until he drove too fast, caused her decapitation, and then revived her as a head in a lasagna pan. She's a little bitter about that.
  • Jan in the pan - This is just Jan, after her "accident." If you are looking for conversation, she is the perfect girlfriend, but not the kind of date to take out for dinner and dancing.
  • Kurt - The nervous assistant who has a Bob Dole thing going on. Loses his good arm, leaving him only limited possibilities for employment. Fortunately, Kurt's new career as the "World's Most Painful Proctologist" is cut short by massive blood loss.
  • Donna - Was she from New York or New Jersey?
  • Doris - The only thing that could fix her physical scars is a belt sander. However, her acid personality would probably cause the average belt sander to tuck its cord between its legs and hide behind the couch.
  • A Bevy of Strippers and Models - Man, in the old days shopping for women was almost as easy as shopping for clothes. Easier, in fact, because I hate shopping for clothes.
  • The Creature in the Closet - All you amateur mad scientists out there already know that assembling a flesh golem from the stolen body parts of dead professional wrestlers is a bad idea. Well, giving it the brain of a man executed for murdering fifteen members of the local Elk Lodge (with their own antlered hats) is a really freakin' bad idea.

Buy It!

The Plot: 

There is a time and a place to experiment. In the kitchen is fine, unless you are making Thanksgiving dinner for a dozen family members you have not seen in years. On your fishing boat is generally safe, because every angler needs to test their latest spinnerbait. Even the bedroom is a great place to experiment, so sayeth Dr. Ruth (and just about any therapist worth their lace garters). However, by and large, the operating room is the last place you want to hear somebody say, "What happens if I do this?"

Bill is not afraid to be that surgeon during an emergency operation. He is working hand-in-hand with his father and the patient suddenly crashes. The older Cortner makes every attempt using approved procedures, but the man refuses to stay alive. Frustrated with the senselessness of it all, Bill orders his dad to manually massage the heart while he chops open the poor schmuck's skull and applies electrical current to the pulsating mass of pale tissue. It works! The dead man's vital signs return, and he is eventually wheeled out of the room with the expectation of a full recovery.

Should I die on the operating table, the doctor resorting to unorthodox methods to save me is not a cut and dried bad thing. I might not mind the impromptu experimentation. However, sticking a sharp electrified prong into my brain and jolting me alive is likely to cause some lasting effects, and I do hold grudges. Having a Marine out to get you is bad enough. Having a brain-damaged, drooling, and prone to uncontrollable twitching, horror of a Devil Dog (who wants to chew your face off) out to get you is not something most people want to worry about while they are lying awake at night, in their bed, in a dark house.

All I am saying is, "Don't put a cattle prod in my head." Got it?

The older Cortner has a lively talk with his talented son about the ethics of experimenting on humans. We learn that Bill has been stealing body parts from the hospital for his research. Before the two men can get into a serious argument, Jan enters the room and immediately butts into the conversation. The talk turns from pilfered limbs to Jan and Bill's plans for the weekend. The pair informs Dr. Cortner Sr. that one thing is for certain: their children will not be test tube babies. Wow. In the space of five minutes, Bill tells his dad that he must keep stealing body parts for unnatural experiments, and that he is going to spend the weekend making the beast with two backs with Jan. The Cortners are more open than most father/son relationships.

Obviously, the talk I give my two sons needs to cover the birds, the bees, and the ill-gotten body parts.

On the way to his secluded laboratory, Bill puts his foot down on the accelerator. The winding road gets the best of him, and the car crashes through a guardrail before plunging down the side of the hill. Bill is thrown from the car and suffers little more than a mild case of dizzy izzy. Jan is not so lucky. The only salvageable part of Bill's pretty girlfriend is her head, so he tears it off. Doing so was easy, so I think it was already severed - ick. Wrapping the gory memento in his jacket (which I hope is a breathable fabric, but it does not look like cotton or silk), Bill laboriously stumbles his way uphill to the laboratory. Maybe he should get in shape, or cut the legs off of an Olympic runner and graft them onto himself.

At the lab, Bill works frantically to ensure his girlfriend will survive. He adjusts tubes, tops off separatory funnels, and securely mounts Jan's severed head in a tray filled with "Bill's Secret Transplant Formula." With that done, he speaks to Kurt. Poor Kurt spends all of his time at the secluded laboratory. The only problem is that Kurt is not alone in the house. Something is locked in a closet in the laboratory; something that Bill made from mismatched body parts he stole from the hospital. Whatever is in that closet, Kurt is deathly afraid that it is going to get out and take revenge on the two scientists responsible for its painful existence.

No, it's not me.

The real issue with having a girlfriend who is only a head is that they aren't much fun (nor are dead puppies). They cannot get you a beer, cook you dinner, or iron your shirt. The only thing Jan in the pan can do is talk, and talk, and talk...well, Bill does not see a future with a head for a girlfriend. He sets out to find her a new body.

Our protagonist goes body shopping in the sleazy sections of town. Ha! That is great! What husband has not thought about trading his wife's figure for Jessica Simpson's body (but not her mind; egad, not her mind) while daydreaming? All that Bill wants for Jan is a body, one that he finds personally attractive. Something that he can live with. The first place that young Dr. Cortner checks for a loose body is the local burlesque club, and he finds a blonde looker who is hot to trot. After trying her on for size (just kissing and petting, not that), Bill is ready to make his move. Unfortunately, an ugly brunette floozy tries to get in on the action. Uh-oh, can't have that. If he is going to kidnap a woman so that he can steal her body, Bill needs to make sure it is a clean snatch. The sultry blonde survives to shimmy and shake another day.

Back in the lab, Jan in the pan is coming to grips with her situation. She is not happy. Some of Jan's anger is probably caused by phantom feelings from her missing body. Imagine your back itching - only you do not have a back, or needing to urinate - except your bladder is just a pile of ashes at the bottom of a gorge, or experiencing gas cramps - but your digestive system ends six inches below your mouth. The whole rotten situation gets the little lady mighty PO'd. Her venomous threats unnerve Kurt, because the thing locked in the closet seems to commiserate with Jan, answering her calls for vengeance upon the mad scientist boyfriend.

I was laughing at Jan in the pan when she ranted about being powerful. Yeah, you are pretty powerful there, girl. Just you wait, there are things in this world that even a woman's head in a lasagna pan are afraid of. A spoiled three-year-old with a croquet mallet, for example.

Not one to give up easily, Bill continues his hunt for the perfect body. All of this is set to swanky, lurid music, so it becomes a parody of itself. I mean, here you have the boyfriend out ogling other women while his little lady stays home. Granted, Bill wants to bring the other woman back to his house so he can cut off her head and stitch Jan's onto the body, but it's still wonderfully twisted. The situation also provides lots of opportunities for Bill to say things that have double meanings. Normally, telling a woman that you want her body is considered bold flirting. In Bill's case it is an admission of criminal intent.

The man is so morally bankrupt that he deserves an award.

No matter how hard he tries, Bill's bad luck with the ladies continues. He does not decapitate any more of them by accident, but neither can he set up the perfect opportunity to kidnap one so that he can decapitate her on purpose. Meeting Donna, one of his old (obviously intimate) acquaintances nearly works in Bill's favor, but then Donna sees one of her girlfriends. The other girl just hops in the car, meaning that Bill's abduction window is officially closed. That, my friends, is the problem with women. The moment you finally think you have them to yourself, they want to ruin everything by blabbing about it to a friend, or even bringing the unwelcome third wheel along for the ride.

Women, when one of us guys engineers a situation that involves just the two of us, our goal is not to steal your body for scientific experiments. Do not get me wrong, we still want to commit unspeakable, unnatural acts upon your person. If you do not want that to happen, then go right ahead and invite your annoying girlfriend who laughs like a hyena to join us for the weekend.

My wife, Katie, has a friend named Katie. Right now Katie is reading this and wondering, "Do I sound like a hyena when I laugh?" Katie, put your mind at ease; you do not sound like a hyena. However, sometimes when you laugh you do make an awful wet snorting sound that reminds me of a pig with pneumonia.

Well, that should be enough bridges burned for one day.

Bill does eventually manage to trick a woman into coming with him alone to the laboratory, but Jan in the pan wants nothing to do with her ex-beau's scheme. She incites the angry mutant amalgamation in the closet to break down the door. It goes on a rampage in the lab! Erlenmeyer flasks are broken, a fire breaks out, and Bill meets a surprisingly gory end (Kurt is already dead, having lost an arm when he strayed too close to the closet). The whole sequence is a fantastic finish to a preposterous, but oh so good in a way that you know is bad for you, film.

Things I Learned From This Movie: 

  • Surgeons are nothing more than mimes with scalpels.
  • How are flaming blenders and convertibles alike? You should not put your girlfriend in either of them.
  • Love and hydroponics don't mix.
  • Burlesque dancers are like bishops, they can only move diagonally.
  • Hell hath no fury like a woman beheaded.
  • There is nothing more useless than a one-handed surgeon.
  • The best time to pick a fresh woman is early in the morning.
  • Finger painting does not require fingers, a hand, or even an arm.
  • Carefully enunciate when ordering a drink or you run the risk of getting a "Scotch and Anesthesia."
  • Band-aids are no substitute for duct tape.

Stuff To Watch For: 

  • 2 mins - Dude, your double ended bag is looking bogusly flat.
  • 7 mins - Who told you to administer one liter of prune juice?
  • 12 mins - Is that contraption amphibious?
  • 29 mins - Yogurt?
  • 35 mins - What bothers her the most is the overwhelming smell of ricotta cheese.
  • 44 mins - Don't knock it; apparently it worked for Elizabeth Taylor.
  • 61 mins - He was being completely honest. You should run screaming from the studio right now.
  • 70 mins - I suddenly have the urge to read something by Ernest Hemingway.
  • 75 mins - The needle is set to wiggle every time she experiences the urge to binge on Häagen-Dazs.

Quotes: 

  • Dr. Cortner Sr.: "Keep away from the motor area. You'll paralyze him for good."
    Bill: "Which would you rather be: paralyzed or dead?"
  • Jan in the pan: "Let me die! Let me die!"
  • Bill: "I brought her back. She'll live, and I'll get her another body."
  • Doris: "I still hate all men! I hate them for what one did to me once."
  • Jan in the pan: "I told you to let me die!"

 Audio clips in wav formatSOUNDSStarving actors speak out 

FileDialog
Green Music Note braindie1.wav Bill: "If I don't experiment, how can I hope to perform operations like the one you almost messed up?"
Dr. Cortner Sr.: "But I can't cover up for you anymore. Superintendent had it out with me. He thinks it's you who's been stealing those limbs from the amputee operations."
Bill: "So what if it is? I've got to have limbs for my transplant experiments. Well, you said test and experiment, test and experiment!"
Dr. Cortner Sr.: "Yes, but limbs and organs, taken from people..."
Bill: "I've got to have them to work with. Sure, I've made a few mistakes, but I've learned from them. I've learned!"
Green Music Note braindie2.wav Burlesque Floozy: "You're no tourist just looking at the sights. What are you doing here, slumming?"
Bill: "I get my allowance once a week."
Burlesque Floozy: "OK, if you're so loaded, you pay for the drinks."
Bill: "I already did. Are you hustling for the house?"
Burlesque Floozy: "I hustle for myself! I'm the leading lady around here. I can sit with the squares out front, or I can relax back here with my friends."
Green Music Note braindie3.wav Kurt: "You didn't find her a body?"
Bill: "Well, I've got to be careful. I can't afford to be identified as the last person seen with a girl before she disappears!"
Green Music Note braindie4.wav Bill: "I told you I'd bring you a body. A beautiful one. Soon it will be yours."
Jan: "Bill, you can't!"
Bill: "Yes, I can. I want you as a complete woman, not part of one."
Green Music NoteTheme Song Listen to a clip from the soundtrack.

 Click for a larger imageIMAGESScenes from the movie 

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 Watch a sceneVIDEOMPEG video files 

Video Clipbraindie1.mpg - 4.9m
Women usually make Kurt nervous; the disembodied head of his employer's girlfriend is terrifying.

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Comments:Write CommentPages: 1 2 [3]
Re: The Brain That Wouldn't Die
Reply #17. Posted on March 13, 2011, 08:50:34 PM by Umaril The Unfeathered
I liked it, and we have to remember that a majority of the quick cheapo B movies from that day were made with the intention of dollar signs because people were eating them up left and right, as they were a release from the problems of the day.

So naturally, accurate science won't be the main goal of these sorts of movies, lol

For me, the whole story comes off like one of those old color cover\b&w inside pulp rags from my day, like Tales From The Tomb and Weird.  Not a blockbuster in any sense, but just a way to kill some time and get a few laughs and chills, though not necessarily in that order.  TeddyR
Re: The Brain That Wouldn't Die
Reply #18. Posted on March 13, 2011, 08:59:23 PM by Casey Lisa
archive.org has The Brain That Wouldn't Die (besides lots of other cool ephemera, home movies, cartoons, etc) and I was wondering, do you think it was an inspiration for Frankenhooker?
Love your movie reviews, you should publish them!
Re: The Brain That Wouldn't Die
Reply #19. Posted on March 14, 2011, 01:37:03 PM by Umaril The Unfeathered
There was more than one head on the block in that time, so to speak...another film called "The Head That Wouldn't Die" was made in and around the same time period, and the film was a bit more serious and somewhat "believable", lol
Re: The Brain That Wouldn't Die
Reply #20. Posted on March 14, 2011, 06:18:18 PM by RCMerchant
There was more than one head on the block in that time, so to speak...another film called "The Head That Wouldn't Die" was made in and around the same time period, and the film was a bit more serious and somewhat "believable", lol


There was also the german made the HEAD (1959),which also included scanty clad women!

<a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mbdua0SP-JU" target="_blank" class="aeva_link bbc_link new_win">http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mbdua0SP-JU</a>
Re: The Brain That Wouldn't Die
Reply #21. Posted on November 02, 2011, 06:48:03 PM by CalrissianFoxxSteele
This a cult classic. That I personally think that could have a very good remake, if done well of course.
My complaint is that it went into too much smut and forgot that he is doing this for the love of his life.
I get that he wanted a model like body, but the movie was so obsessed with the women eventhough it was nice to see a lot of lovely ladies.
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