Film: Brain Damage
Director: Frank Henenlotter
Writer: Frank Henenlotter
Starring: Rick Hearst, Gordon MacDonald and Jennifer Lowry
This film begins with an old man entering an apartment; she is played by Theo Barnes. He has something from a butcher and he puts it on the counter. He is not happy about what he bought and what he paid for it. His wife is there and she is played by Lucille Saint-Peter. She opens it up and there are brains in it. She thinks that something will be happy about his and Barnes doesn’t seem to share that. She goes into the bathroom and their bathtub has water in it, but it seems to be missing something. They both freak out and start to search the apartment.
We then shift to a man in bed; he is played by Rick Hearst. His phone rings and it is his girlfriend. She is played by Jennifer Lowry. She asks if he is ready and he tells her he’s not. He is sleeping and seems out of it.
Barnes and Saint-Peter start to go door-to-door of their building trying to find someone named Alymer. They have no success.
Lowry shows up at Hearst’s apartment. His brother lets her in; he is played by Gordon MacDonald. They go back to his bedroom and Hearst doesn’t look good. He is pale and not feeling well. He tells Lowry to go to the concert with MacDonald in his stead. Lowry says it is okay and MacDonald readily agrees to go as well.
Hearst goes back to sleep and starts to hallucinate. He finds blood on his bed where he was laying. There is a mark on the back of his neck and there’s blood around it. He can’t walk or stand well so he crawls to the bathroom to look at his neck. He sees flashes of light. While lying in bed he also thinks the room fills with water and that the light fixture above him becomes an eyeball.
When he wakes up again, he finally meets Alymer. This is a slug like creature that has suction cups on it. It is voiced by John Zacherle. He introduces himself and tells him that he can show Hearst the lights again. He wants to go for a walk so he can eat. Hearst tells him that he is not feeling well and that he cannot. Alymer offers to give him more of what he has to allow him to see the lights so they can. Hearst agrees. Alymer opens its mouth to reveal that it has a bunch of teeth and a needle. It drips a liquid that causes the same effect as a drug.
They end up at a junkyard where Hearst sees a light show. He is going crazy about how great it looks. There is a policeman who is guarding this junkyard. He tells Hearst he can’t be there and goes to handcuff him. Alymer then attacks the cop and eats his brain.
Lowry shows up at Hearst and MacDonald’s apartment. Hearst has quit his job and hasn’t been doing much. He has been avoiding Lowry as well. He has put a bunch of locks on his door, like the older couple did. He also put them on the bathroom door. Lowry knocks at the door and tells him they are supposed to have a date that night. We see that Hearst is in the bathtub with Alymer, a bubble bath, and they are playing. Hearst goes out with Lowry. She pushes to know what is going on with him and Alymer won’t allow it. He freaks out though when he sees brains instead of meatballs in his spaghetti. He flees
Hearst ends up at a nightclub called Hell. He goes to a speaker and listens to it. A woman comes up and wants to dance with him. They end up going outside. She decides to give him fellatio and Alymer appears instead. He goes into her mouth and pulls her brain out, eating them.
Hearst comes out of his high and notices that his underwear has blood on them. He throws them away and he is confronted by Barnes. He knows that Hearst has him and he commands him to give Alymer back. Hearst leaves, telling him that he has no idea what he is talking about. Hearst confronts Alymer and tells him that he doesn’t want the drug anymore and that he cannot allow the thing to eat anymore brains.
What will Hearst do? Will he break the dependence on the drug? Or will he relapse? Will Barnes and Saint-Peter get him back? What will Alymer do? Will he continue to kill to get stronger?
I have to give Frank Henenlotter credit. This film has a good concept. I like concept of this creature that controls others with this drug it has. I really liked the back-story that there were historical figures that had this and that Barnes character could trace where this creature was through the time. I also like that this film had good visual effects, for the most part, at trying to show a normal audience what it would like to hallucinate while being high. This is something that is hard to portray, especially if you’ve never experienced it. The death scenes try to be different, even though this thing eats brains every time. I will give the film credit still for that and its attempt. I also liked that Henenlotter used a reference to an earlier film, Basket Case, by having the star of that film sit down on a subway train near the end, with the case that the character has throughout the film.
This film though does come with its issues. The first is that Alymer doesn’t look realistic. The needle it has was good, but I didn’t care for the fact that its teeth, eyes and smile looked very amateur. I think part of that though is low-budget and being from the late 80’s. Also when it shows the needle entering Hearst, it goes through his neck where it would be his spine or brain stem, but then it shows it come from inside the brain to the outer part that we see. This is backwards and not factually correct. The film is a little cheesy, but that goes back to the era and the budget as well.
Now with that said, this film is really a cult film so if this sounds good and you like those types of films, then I would recommend giving this a viewing. The acting is mediocre. The film has a good concept and decent back-story. It does well at showing us what it would like to be high with the liquid Alymer has. It really isn’t factually correct though and Alymer looks fake. Don’t come into this film expecting it to be great, but as a cult film, it is pretty solid.
My Rating: 6 out of 10