Brain Damage (1988)

FRANK HENENLOTTER

Bil’s rating (out of 5): BB

USA, 1988. . Screenplay by Frank Henenlotter. Cinematography by . Produced by . Music by , . Production Design by . Costume Design by Ivy Rosovsky. Film Editing by Frank Henenlotter, .

Basket Case director Frank Henenlotter is back with another ridiculous indulgence in humorous horror, once again pairing a hapless human star with an otherworldy symbiotic companion. This time it’s handsome young Brian who wakes up feeling ill and begs off taking his girlfriend to a concert, asking his brother to escort her instead. What Brian quickly learns is that a wormlike parasite has dug its teeth into his brain and is causing him an addictive high, the cars in a junkyard suddenly start popping gorgeous colours and the ceilings of his bedroom turn into shooting stars.

The trade off for this euphoria is that the “Aylmer”, as the creature is known, likes to chomp on brains, distracting Brian with magic mental light shows while he feasts on the unsuspecting humans who cross his path. Meanwhile, Brian’s girlfriend and brother are both confused as to his sudden change in personality, and wonder why he’s doing odd things like sitting in the bathtub for hours or disappearing for nights on end.

The horror effects are potent in their goriness and well achieved, the seemingly accidental homoeroticism of a great many scenes induces giggles, but it’s a shame that this one doesn’t match the glee of Henenlotter’s breakthrough classic.

While no one expects a script worthy of Harold Pinter, aspects of the creature’s mythology don’t track well, and there isn’t enough indulging in the crazy things that Brian does as a result of its influence. Still, scenes like a woman having her brain eaten while performing oral sex have to be seen to be believed, so if you’re looking for a midnight madness classic to enjoy, this one is a good time to be had.

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