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Top Customer Reviews
Bill Pullman and Bill Paxton -- admit it, you've always gotten them confused -- co-star in this low-budget gem that was barely released to theaters, but now gets a decent DVD release. The sound and picture are just fine -- alas, producer Roger Corman takes his trademark cheapness even to DVD: there are no commentaries, no extra features save some bios and a few trailers, and there's not even a booklet inside the case!
In any event, this is a smart and suspenseful little movie, and one you'll enjoy trying to piece together long after it's over.
When Brain Dead is remembered these days, two decades after its original release, it is remembered mostly for being an early Bill Pullman flick, a few years before he would hit the big time. But this first feature from Adam Simon (The American Nightmare; he also wrote the vastly underrated 2009 flick The Haunting in Connecticut) has much, much more to recommend it than simply another obscure star turn from Pullman, who two years before had been part of what made The Serpent and the Rainbow into one of the best horror flicks Hollywood ever produced. It is oddly common that Hollywood will crank out two movies on the same theme at roughly the same time, with one obscuring the other for whatever reason; think of The Lost Boys getting all the press while Near Dark languished in obscurity. In this case, the overarching film was Jacob's Ladder, which was similarly brilliant but much better marketed. Both are well worth your time, but I'm guessing somewhere along the way you actually saw Jacob's Ladder, while this one fell under your radar.
Plot: Rex Martin (Pullman) is a brain surgeon. His pal Jim Reston (Near Dark's Bill Paxton) is a higher-up muckety-muck on the board of a big corporation. One of said corporation's mathematicians, Jack Halsey (Harold and Maude's Bud Cort, in what may be the best screen turn he ever gave), has gone round the bend and is locked in a mental institution. Reston wants Martin to see if there's any way Halsey can be returned to sanity long enough to complete a big equation he was working on for them. Martin hems and haws, and that's when things get sinister: is Reston suddenly now out to get him, at the direction of the mysterious head of the corporation (George Kennedy)?Read more ›
Julie produced much more family-friendly films than Roger, and this is perhaps as close as she gets to the grade-B horror which tended to be Roger’s hallmark.
The film was re-released in 2005 on DVD. It stars Bill Pullman (also in Independence Day and Wyatt Earp) and Bill Paxton (Titanic, Apollo 13, Weird Science) as well as Bud Cort as one of the supporting actors, who has been in innumerable films in a 40 year career.
I guess you’d have to call this a sci-fi horror film, although like any good horror film it is low on blood and body parts and heavy on suspense and atmosphere. Clearly it should qualify as “grade B”, as the special effects and sets did not look very expensive, but I think she did an excellent job with the resources she had.
It’s hard to say much about the plot without ruining it, but I will note that the jacket compares it to “Sixth Sense, which it predated”. I would also compare it to “Sutter Island” which it also predated, and say that the plot is every bit as suspenseful as both those films produced at much larger expense.
In this case the main character is a researcher on the relationship between brain pathology and mental disorders named Rex Martin (Pullman) whose research is being funded by a mega-corporation, here dubbed “Eunice”. He thinks he has localized the cause of paranoia to a particular region of cerebral cortex, and that perhaps by ablating the area of disturbance, it would be possible to cure paranoia.Read more ›
Rex Martin is reluctant to sign on to the project, but is gradually coerced into it. What results is a hallucinatory trip into madness for Martin (very similar to Pullman's role in 'The Serpent and the Rainbow'). Is he wielding the surgeon's knife... or is he the one under the knife? All will be revealed at the movies end. Until then, you just have to keep guessing.
Liked the movie the first time I saw it, but not quite as much when I later bought the DVD. Not sure why. It's still a good movie though. Not great maybe... but pretty good.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
One of Roger Corman's most unusual films of the late 80's, probably because they were working with an old script from Charles Beaumont, who passed away in 1967. Read morePublished 4 months ago by Fred Adelman
Dammit, let's see Bill Pullman in more, meatier leading roles. This movie hit me out of the blue and I just loved it. Read morePublished 19 months ago by Binky Chottorrhœhia
This film flips back and forward between reality and dream illusion. Research scientist Bill Pullman is tormented about something he thinks he may have done. Read morePublished 23 months ago by Ron Baker
Whoever came up with the name for this movie was right on. I became close to brain death by persisting to the end of this movie.Published on March 28, 2014 by Robert D. Maclachlan
Just didn't grab me. The only amusing aspect was seeing Bill Pullman at that early of an age. Not worth shelling money out for it.Published on January 25, 2014 by Peter J. Chudoba
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