The Man with the Screaming Brain (2005)

Bruce Campbell attempts yet again to make another movie with his deal of difficulties, and finally had it released. Granted it was released on the “Sci-Fi” Channel, but it still ends up being a pretty entertaining throwback to the fifties with a mix of schlock for much effect to what the topic of the film entails, because–seriously–comedy or drama, would you watch this film with a straight face? This is science fiction comedy, or comedy with a science fiction twist? Because the screenplay never seems to know.

Often times it’s much too boring to be considered remotely funny, and then it comes with the science fiction barrage that is just uneven most of the time, and then it insists on being comedy or “camp” with goofy sequences that are just too utterly stupid to even be taken as comedy, and when it strives for comedy it’s extremely forced. A robot doing the robot to rap music being played by a foreigner… okay, where’s the punch line? So which utterly recycled joke should I laugh at? Either way, that one scene comes from all sorts of directions so much we’re being pulled back and forth.

And then there are sequences where we’re not sure if Campbell is striving for comedy as the film rambles on for quite a while. We’re given the sub-plot between the main character William and his wife Jackie, and then her exploring the city, and then there’s the villainess Tatoya who has no method for her madness. She’s a house cleaner who sees a guy, quirks her eye maniacally like a Spanish soap opera villain, and suddenly obsesses with him? Uh… wha’? More importantly, why? What’s the point of this incredibly cheesy villainess who speaks in a low husk, carries around a blade, and is seemingly psychotic?

It makes no sense, almost as much as the movie does. And then the film continues on for what seems like an eternity with ridiculous character additions, incredibly clunky dialogue that was more cringe-inducing than comedic, which Campbell was obviously striving for the latter, and none of it ever really works well when combined. Either way, the film does become occasionally entertaining here as the concept makes for some interesting improvisation when Campbell’s character is killed halfway, and his body is stolen by two mad scientists who take half of his brain and mold it with half of a brain of another man, his Ali G-esque cab driver. Now, I’ll forgive all the utter inaccuracies in the fact that one half of the brain and the other half are molded thus creating a sort of hybrid of both men, because, this film you take as seriously as Britney Spears’ political opinions.

I’m not a fan of Campbell at all, I mean the man does good work but I was never a fan, which allowed me to look at this more objectively in the end, and Campbell is fun to watch here. He spouts the trite patriotic “yay capitalism” lingo as the uptight business man and really takes the turn as the confused distressed victim who is now sharing a brain and must learn to live with the consciousness of the other victim. Watching them talk to each other is pretty funny in spite of it being incredibly routine, and Campbell excels. Meanwhile, I didn’t think it was possible to add comedic relief to a comedy, but, I guess to keep people from getting bored, we see some great acting from Stacy Keach and Ted Raimi whom are a twisted Doctor Frankenstein and Igor ranting back and forth and trying to get a hold of their experiments.

They’re admittedly fun to watch here, and they help save this. The film, much like the characters, never really sure where it’s going, nor does it seem to want to try. It’s just a quasi-sci-fi/comedy/slapstick/ spoof/farce/drama that can never find a direction and pick one, but just ends up being incredibly repetitive, droning, and unsatisfying in its climax which ended up being much too simple and low-key for the films mood. “Screaming Brain” doesn’t suffer because it’s mostly a bad film, it suffers because it’s a bad film without direction or a point. While Campbell is entertaining, and some of the film can be a lot of fun, Campbell never has a grip on his script and throws drama, comedy, slapstick, and science fiction elements and I never knew what to make of it.