Director Adam Simon‘s Brain Dead is a gloriously mind-bending delight. A brain-scratcher of a psychological horror, the 1990 film is gory, funny and weirdly complex – especially considering it comes from legendary schlockmeister Roger Corman‘s Concorde Pictures.
A true cult classic, Brain Dead has a brilliant cast (Bill Pullman, Bill Paxton, Bud Cort and George Kennedy) who all help sell the far-out tale of a Neurosurgeon (Pullman) who loses a grip on his dreams and reality when the shadowy Eunice Corporation forces him to extract information from the mind of mental patient (Cort).
Based on a screenplay written in the 1960s by Charles Beaumont (The Twilight Zone, The Premature Burial and The Masque of the Red Death), Simon updated the story (originally called Paranoia) to the late 1980s and threw in added gore to deliver a horror film which is nearly impossible to categorise. Simon has crafted a film which endures because it keeps gaining momentum and growing as it goes along. It’s a dream within a dream and a nightmare within a nightmare.
Assisting Simon in helping Brain Dead reach a high level of quality is his wonderful cast. Bill Pullman is brilliant as the everyman who loses grip on reality when he falls into a living (or sleeping) nightmare. The late, great Bill Paxton has never been smarmier than he is as the corporate stooge who is quietly making moves on Pullman’s wife. Harold And Maude star Bud Cort is also a delight, infusing the film with a quirky sense of humour and subtle humanity. Throw in George Kennedy and you have a low budget horror which punches way above its weight.
A delight which is constantly rewatchble, Brain Dead is a true cult movie which should be seen by every fan of the horror genre.
The brilliant 101 Films gives Brain Dead the blu-ray release it deserves (it’s number title number 016 on their Black Label). The Brains Behind the Nightmare is a new documentary on film which is close to 44 minutes in length and tells you everything that you ever wanted to know about the film (Tim Robbins was originally cast as the lead and Julia Roberts wanted to be in it). You get a great interview with director Adam Simon (you could listen to him all day), deleted scenes, a trailer and a hugely informative commentary from Adam Simon and Rodman Flender. Brilliant!