Review: Brain Damage
Blu-Ray & DVD: Brain Damage (1988)
An elderly New York couple are keeping something captive in their bathroom and feeding it animal brains, but ‘it’ manages to escape into the nearby apartment of Brian (Rick Hearst). The ‘it’ in question is called Aylmer; an erudite centuries old phallic parasite whose charm and powers of persuasion get Brian addicted to the blue hallucinogenic liquid that it squirts onto his brain via a hole at the base of his neck. This liquid affects Brian’s eyesight and allows him to see a hidden myriad of colours in everyday objects. Now addicted to this new visual world, Brian must help Aylmer to feed his hunger for human brains, or suffer the painful withdrawal symptoms of this weird and wonderful drug.
Directed by Frank Henenlotter, this is set in the underbelly of NYC where Frank grew up and continues in the same cinematic universe as Basket Case, which was released 6 years previous (take THAT Marvel Universe!). There is even a brief appearance by Duane and his basket, which will raise a laugh from everyone familiar with Henenlotter’s previous work.
The low budget shows in some of the effects work, but the sculpture and animation of Aylmer is always a joy to watch. There are also two standout effects scenes that I guarantee will stick in your head forever, so watch out for death by fellatio and an epic brain spill. If that last sentence doesn’t get you interested, then Brain Damage is probably not the movie for you.
Clearly a metaphor for drug use and addiction, Brain Damage also raises as many laughs as it does squeals of disgust as it follows Brian on his downward spiral of addiction until he has to find some way to be released from Aylmer’s grip.
If I have one small gripe with the movie it would be with its ending (which I won’t give away), but this in no way negates everything previous to it. Henenlotter certainly made advances as a filmmaker since Basket Case and would continue that progression in his future movies too.
Brain Damage is a wonderful journey across the New York streets as seen through the eyes of a man high on the juice of an ancient phallic deity…now THERE’S a synopsis that surely must entice you to buy!?
Arrow Films go above and beyond with the extras in this set, and as well as special features that will keep you glued to the screen for many hours, it is all beautifully packaged and presented.
Once again Arrow release an essential purchase that will have your credit card company smiling. Worth every penny though.
LIMITED EDITION CONTENTS
- High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) and Standard Definition DVD presentations
- Original Mono and 5.1 DTS-HD MA Surround Audio Options
- Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing
- Isolated Score
- Brand new audio commentary by writer-director Frank Henenlotter
- Listen to the Light: The Making of Brain Damage – brand new documentary featuring interviews with actor Rick Herbst, producer Edgar Ievins, editor James Kwei, first assistant director Gregory Lamberson, visual effects supervisor Al Magliochetti and makeup artist Dan Frye
- The Effects of Brain Damage – FX artist and creator of “Elmer” Gabe Bartalos looks back at his iconic effects work on the film
- Animating Elmer – featurette looking at the contributions of visual effects supervisor Al Magliochetti
- Karen Ogle: A Look Back – stills photographer, script supervisor and assistant editor Karen Ogle recalls her fond memories of working on Brain Damage
- Elmer’s Turf: The NYC Locations of Brain Damage – featurette revisiting the film’s original shooting locations
- Tasty Memories: A Brain Damage Obsession – an interview with superfan Adam Skinner
- Brain Damage Q&A with Frank Henenlotter recorded at the 2016 Offscreen Film Festival
- Image Galleries
- Original Theatrical Trailer
- Bygone Behemoth – animated short by Harry Chaskin, featuring a brief appearance by John Zacherle in his final onscreen credit
- Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Sara Deck
- Limited Edition O-card with exclusive artwork
- Collector’s Booklet with new writing on the film by Michael Gingold, illustrated with original archive stills and posters
Review by Dave (host of 60 Minutes With) from discs kindly supplied by Arrow Films.
PLUS!!! EXCLUSIVE ENAMEL “ELMER” PIN BADGE, AVAILABLE ONLY FROM THE ARROW STORE!
*LIMITED QUANTITY, AVAILABLE WHILE STOCKS LAST