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Arrow Video FrightFest October 2020: ‘The Brain That Wouldn’t Die’ review

The 1962 film gets a remake with a comedy twist.

Dr. Bill Cortner (Patrick D. Green) and his fiancée Jan Compton (Rachael Perrell Fosket) are involved in a car accident that ends up killing Jan. Bill locates her severed head and rushes back to his lab where he manages to revive it. Determined to bring Jan fully back to life, Bill goes on the hunt for a woman he can kill without anyone finding out so he can use her body and attach Jan’s head to it. With a detective called Mancini (Robert Blanche) investigating the crash, what could possibly go wrong?

‘The Brain That Wouldn’t Die’ is a remake of the 1962 film of the same name by director Derek Carl. Rather than simply rehashing what came before, this new version takes many of the elements that made the original a classic and adds a lot more humour into the mix. Filmed as if it were made in the 60s, the entire casts speaks and acts as if they are from that decade. At first I found that a little distracting but the further you get into the film the less you notice.

The Brain That Wouldn't Die
Credit: Flagship Features

The film poses some serious moral questions, prompted by Bill’s determination to keep Jan alive regardless of what she wants. Jan is devastated when she finds out she’s nothing more than a severed head, and pleads with Bill and his assistant Kurt (Jason Reynolds) to end her life but her pleas are ignored. In a time when the US is fighting to protect women’s rights, that part of the narrative feels particularly pertinent.

There’s also the question of Bill’s actions. Not only does he revive and keep alive Jan’s head against her will, he trawls the streets like a sociopath looking for a woman no one will miss. Following a few failed attempts, he locks his sights on old flame Doris Powell (Mia Allen) and sets about trying to trap her so he can murder her. This remake gives Doris much more of a character, which allows the audience to sympathise with her and feel more outraged about what Bill is doing than the original did.

The Brain That Wouldn't Die
Credit: Flagship Features

The kind of stylised acting that the cast does will either entertain you or irk you. Most of the cast is fine, particularly Patrick D. Green as Bill, but at times some of the supporting cast are a little ropey. It’s not a huge problem as the overall style of the film will likely win you over but for me, the weaker actors definitely stood out.

‘The Brain That Wouldn’t Die’ is a loving homage to a classic film that adds colour and humour, but otherwise stays pretty faithful to the original. There are laughs to be had, more than a few double entendres to keep you smirking, and a lot of charm to win you over. If you loved the original, you’ll want to check this out and I’m sure you won’t be disappointed.

Cast: Patrick D. Green, Rachael Perrell Fosket, David Withers, Jason Reynolds, Robert Blanche Director: Derek Carl Writers: Hank Huffman (screenplay), Rex Carlton & Joseph Green (original story) Certificate: 18 Duration: 97 mins Released by: Flagship Features

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