These days you can find movies about pretty much everything imaginable, but even now there aren’t that many about parasitic, and somewhat phallic, aliens that secrete highly addictive hallucinogenic juices into the brain of their host. But that’s exactly what Brain Damage is about.
When I first watched this film I put it on with a bunch of friends who then proceeded to mock it so harshly that I sulked off to fantasise about forcefully inserting DVD discs into certain bodily orifices while screaming “This is what you get for having no love for campy 80s horror you bastards!”. Revisiting it recently has done nothing to reduce my love for this film, or temper my sociopathic frustration at the poor taste of my friends. Although I now take comfort in the fact that their bodies will not be discovered until the London Eye is taken down to be replaced with something else.
Director / writer Frank Henenlotter has not given us a lot compared to many other directors, however his cult classic Basket Case gives him a special place in the hearts of fans of budget horror. While Brain Damage is clearly the inferior of the two it is still a great gore-filled flick with some funny moments and the goriest fellatio scene you’re ever likely to see.
Brian finds himself the latest “friend” of Aylmer (pronounced “Elmer”), an oddly chatty alien parasite that feeds on brains. In exchange for taking Aylmer out to obtain fresh brains straight from the cranium of unsuspecting victims, Brian gets a steady supply of his hallucinogenic blue juice injected into his brain.
It isn’t long before Brian is completely hooked on this new drug, since not only does it give him the euphoric hallucinations but also allows him to block out the horror of the reality of what is happening to the people he meets. As the film progresses we see Brian descend more and more into a pit of drug-dependency, giving this movie its strong anti-drug message.
This is not a movie that is going to win any Oscars, and the puppet work of Aylmer make the “monster” of the piece actually look somewhat adorable. But there is plenty of gore to go around, a novel story even today, and only one truly bad visual effect (an animated effect of Aylmer used in the Metro scene). The silly special effects actually lend Brain Damage more charm, true campy 80s horror at its best!
I would like to give this movie four stars, but here comes the debate over whether I am judging based on quality or on enjoyment factor! Just take my word for it, if you want something fun to watch and reminisce about watching tenth generation VHS horror movies you were given by a school buddy, then you could definitely do worse than Brain Dead. Also watch for the rather blatant Basket Case cameo ;)