Blu-ray Movie Review – Brain Damage (1988)

Brain Damage
Directed by Frank Henenlotter
Courtesy of Arrow Video & MVD Distribution
Original Year of Release: 1988
Blu-ray Release Date: May 9, 2017

Director Frank Henenlotter looks like a normal guy. But don’t let that fool you; housed inside that nondescript head is the mind of a genius. How else can you describe someone who has given the horror genre films like BASKET CASE and (my personal favorite) FRANKENHOOKER?

Henenlotter definitely reaches new heights with BRAIN DAMAGE, though.

While the premise of BRAIN DAMAGE might sound familiar, I can guarantee you’ve not seen anything like this. Whereas many films rehash what has already been done, this movie will take you on a vivid and entertaining trip. And when it’s over, you might have to ask yourself if it was all a dream.

BRAIN DAMAGE is the latest offering from Arrow Video, and it’s a definite must-have for horror fans. Chances are you’ve heard of this film; but if you haven’t, then buckle in and get ready for a weird and crazy ride.

If you are not familiar with BRAIN DAMAGE, here is the plot synopsis courtesy of Arrow Video & MVD Distribution:

From Frank Henenlotter, the man behind such cult horror favorites as Basket Case and Frankenhooker, comes Brain Damage the ultimate head-trip, now finally on Blu-ray!

Meet Elmer. He’s your local, friendly parasite with the ability to induce euphoric hallucinations in his hosts. But these LSD-like trips come with a hefty price tag. When young Brian comes under Elmer’s addictive spell, it’s not long before he finds himself scouring the city streets in search of his parasite’s preferred food source: brains!

Featuring late TV horror host John Zacherley as the voice of Elmer, Brain Damage boasts some of the most astonishing, bad taste gore-gags ever realized, including the notorious brain-pulling sequence and another that let’s just say ends with a distinctly unconventional ‘climax’.

I went into this film knowing very little about it. Sure, I’d heard about it over the years, and I even own a rare DVD copy of it. But I purposely ignored conversations about it and kept myself from learning too much about the plot. As such, I think I enjoyed the film even more so.

BRAIN DAMAGE is shot well and looks great onscreen. The HD transfer is solid, although there are a couple of scenes where a vertical line can be seen on the left-hand side of the screen. This isn’t very distracting, however, and I assume it has something to do with the original negative. I do have to complain about the sound, though. Most of the voices are very quiet for some reason, which made me keep adjusting the volume based on the action onscreen. A minor annoyance, but I feel it worth mentioning.

The acting is very good, with Rick Hearst playing the main character, Brian. Hearst does a great job, and he convincingly portrays an addict with ease. John Zacherley offers the voice to Elmer, and he also does a fine job.

The special effects in BRAIN DAMAGE are outrageous, over the top, and excellent. There’s a lot gore, and it looks great. I particularly like the brain-pulling sequence, where Brian is slowly pulling his brain out of his ear. This is extremely well done and looks brutally realistic.

BRAIN DAMAGE is a quirky and fun film, but it won’t be for everyone. It’s a slow-burning horror comedy that emphasizes the grotesque, but it also offers an interesting perspective on addiction. I highly recommend it to horror fans, particularly those who enjoyed BASKET CASE and FRANKENHOOKER. It is available now.

In addition to the HD picture and sound, the Special Edition Blu-ray boasts:

• Digital transfer from original film elements
• High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) and Standard Definition DVD presentations
• Original Mono audio (uncompressed PCM on the Blu-ray)
• Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing
• Brand new audio commentary by writer-director Frank Henenlotter
• Brand new interviews with cast and crew
• Q&A with Henenlotter recorded at the 2016 Offscreen Film Festival
• Theatrical Trailer
• 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


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