The Brain that Wouldn’t Die (1962) [Blu-Ray]


Ah blatant proud misogyny, you truly are something to watch. Never has there been such a misogynistic and anti-woman film as “The Brain that Wouldn’t Die,” the movie that ponder how hard it is to find the right body for your dismembered wife’s head. How does a severed head talk without lungs? Uh—science! I’d definitely call “The Brain that Wouldn’t Die” a bad movie, but only because it’s so painfully up front about its attitude toward women, I had a tough time through most of it.

Bill Cortner is a surgeon who gets his jollies off by messing with corpses of dead patients that he strong arms away from his surgeon father, reviving them in the most unorthodox manner. He’s dead set on committing to experiments with them involving reanimation, and his father sees nothing particularly wrong with him. Especially now that Bill is about to get married to a pretty woman named Jan, who is in love with the psychopath. When Bill is called on a private meeting, Jan tags along, and the two are involved in a horrific car crash. Bill survives, but Jan is not so fortunate.

Displaying immense empathy for her, he collects her severed head from the wreck, abandons the scene and re-animates her head. Obviously Jan is growing madder and more insane as the hours pass, and Bill goes on the hunt for the perfect woman he can lure home, and transfer Jan’s head to so they can rekindle their marriage once more. Can you imagine the pillow talk about why he didn’t report the accident to anyone? And why did Jan get her head severed but Bill was relatively thrown from his car with only bruised ribs? Science! Jan’s severed angry head is only a fraction of the movie, as Bill pretty much walks around town watching burlesque shows, and ogling models, in an effort to find the right body for his wife.

Meanwhile Jan gets more evil, and begins knocking off Bill’s assistants with the help of Bill’s monstrous sidekick who is comprised of human parts. “The Brain that Wouldn’t Die” is not just misogynist, but painfully boring, relying on a lot of erotic moments of women flashing their body while Bill watches. This is in place of an actual narrative where Jan simply lies around in a pan giggling maniacally and hoping someone puts her out of her misery. If anything “The Brain that Wouldn’t Die” at least can be seen as a precursor to better films like “Re-Animator” and “Frankenhooker.” They’re not as painfully sexist, but at least they’re good movies.

The Blu-Ray from Scream Factory is packed with wonderful extras for folks that love the film, or want to watch it purely to hate on it. There’s an audio commentary with film historians Steve Haberman and Tony Sasso, both of whom explore the film’s production and its wild legacy. There’s a minute and a half of Alternate Model Footage where the final model character Bill meets is actually topless for her photographers rather than donning a silky bra. There’s a photo gallery from the production and the original theatrical trailer! Last but certainly not least, there’s the full length uncut episode of “Mystery Science Theater 3000,” where the guys from the Satellite of Love lampoon the film. The season five episode is early in Mike Nelson’s tenure as host, as he is learning to keep his sanity around bad movies, and is forced to watch “The Brain that Wouldn’t Die.” It’s a solid episode with some hilarious one-liners.