Brain Damage (1988)


Written & Directed by: Frank Henenlotter


Rick Hearst .... Brian
Gordon MacDonald .... Mike
Jennifer Lowry .... Barbara
Theo Barnes .... Morris
Lucille Saint-Peter .... Martha

Release Dates:
Avoriaz Fantastic Film Festival: January, 1988; Limited Theatrical: April 15, 1988 (New York City, NY); Iik!! Horror Film Festival: November 5, 2005; Night Visions Film Festival: October 30, 2010 (Finland)



A parasite creature named Elmer escapes from a crazed couple named Morris (Theo Barnes) and Martha (Lucille Saint-Peter) from a bathtub in an apartment and clings onto a teenage resident named Brian (Rick Hearst) as this thing has attached to the base of his brain stem. The creature gives him a euphoric state of happiness but in return demands human victims.
This thing feeds on human brains and Brian gets heavily addicted to what Elmer is giving him and can't function properly.


There's a real twisted beginning with a couple of eccentric middle aged people named Morris and Martha with them preparing a meal on some brains by making this situation look fancy as this looked perfectly twisted and showing nice timing for the black comedy involved here as you wonder who they are going to serve it to when they enter a bathroom and realising that who they were gonna feed these brains to has disappeared which revolves around a bathtub filled with water. You start to get more curious while spotting this along with these two trying to knock on their apartment residents door asking to see their bathtub which makes things look mysterious along with a good shot on these two having seisures and choking out their saliva. This all makes you wonder as to why they're doing all of this when they are missing something that seem to be their little deadly pet.
There's a good moment with the lead character Brian suddenly waking up and feeling blood over him which looked a bit shocking along with a funny moment on this little parasite popping next to him and talking to him as this can make you laugh for sure while we spot all of this making up for the shocking moments here. Plus we spot neat effects with this parasite opening it's mouth to put venom into his head which also looked amusing to watch too.
Plus we spot a fun moment with him going to a junkyard with hallucinations on vehicles lighting up as well as him acting full of life intoxicated and running around the area as this gives a neat 80's feeling by how that was all shot and the style it was done. Plus a good shocking moment when an officer is about to arrest him and the parasite leaps out to attack him which looked gruesome spotting by what we see here.
Interesting hallucination sequences with Brian having dinner out with his girlfriend Barbara and he spots his meatballs while having pasta as brains pumping which looked gross and making you not hungry for spaghetti and meatballs after spotting this scene.
There's another moment with him dancing in a bar acting crazy in which the scenery looked impressive spotting what dance bar's used to look like back in the 80's. Also we have a moment when he is about to hook up with a lustful blonde and a good one liner on her discussing his crotch telling him about a beast in his pocket in which we know exactly that's what it is. Plus a good shot on her ready to unzip his pants which is a famous scene in this film by what we expect to happen here which looked fairly amusing blending in both the comedy and horror tied in together here.
Also we have a good moment with Morris acting crazy towards Brian about the parasite in which this looked good and serious by what is happening here adding a nice touch to the plot here.
We spot a famous shocking scene in the film with Brian halluicnating while he's pulling something out of his ear as well as more terrifying results which is not easy to watch if you're not into horror violence to the extreme. The effects looked impressive though. Plus there's a hilarious moment with the parasite singing and bobbing around while Brian himself is feeling sick and needing a fix making up for the shocking situations. The black comedy here was at it's best.
Also a nice setting involving a dream sequence with the camera rolling around Brian along with his brother Mike and girlfriend Barbara about to get lustful as well as spotting a gruesome situation unravelling later on which looked hard to watch adding more horror violence. It looked well done regardless.
Things seem good and serious when Barb tries to talk to Brian as he tries to warn her about his deadly situation as this looked well written in adding a perfect touch to what is happening in the story. Also a good discussion with her talking to him in a subway along with some psyched out shots on this parasite shooting out of his mouth from time to time while the lights in the subway starts to flicker. This is definetely a weird situation to watch. Plus things seem creepy when Brian is silent towards her just staring at her making this moment look quite intimidating.
Also we have a good struggling moment with Brian against Morris and Martha along with more shocking situations on this parasite attacking. Plus there's a perfect psyched out ending when we spot on what happens to Brian's head as the effects looked terrific. An impressive ending for a horror flick.
Bottom line is that it's a slapstick horror comedy in the same vein as like David DeCoteau's Sorority Babes in the Slimeball Bowl O Rama but this was a better flick and made on a better budget so it's not comparable except for the non serious moments and horror too. However this one is funny and creepy too. A cult flick for the 80's indeed and well done even if at times it seems a bit ridiculous. The talking parasite was a hoot though.

The acting is at an okay pace in which lead actor Rick Hearst (Brian) was a household name in daytime TV soap opera's but did the trick well with his role in the film. He showed some good timing with his shocked attitude as well as acting believeably hyperactive whenever he acts like he's high. Plus does a nice job with his troubled reactions too along with acting believeable in pain or acting sick. He studied this all very well. Plus does a good job acting weak wanting his next fix and acting like a zombie while doing this especially with his expressions too. Does well acting emotionally frightened while talking to someone and just getting panicky about it all showing some terrific energy here expecially with his running away too bringing it at a good tense pace. Does a nice job sitting and staring as well as showing an expressionless attitude as he made himself look perfectly creepy like he's a zombie in a different type of fashion here riding a subway. Also was great with his wide eyed expressions and acting believeably in pain near the end of his performance when something happens to his head as he draws this out superbly. He was a passable character actor and seems to do the trick for the role.
Gordon MacDonald (Mike) seems a bit wooden in his performance but yet has the right looks to play the sibling as he shows a nice resemblance. He seems to do okay to show his concerned attitude in a scene as well as really getting into the mode when he is in a lustful situtation showing a good calmness to this. Plus during the end of his performance shows off a convincing shocked reaction to what has happened in that moment so I give him credit for all of that.
Jennifer Lowry (Barbara) seemed a bit over the top at times especially during a dinner date in which she shows concern towards her other actor in which this didn't seem convincing at all as she seemed to force this just a little bit. However she seems to do a fine job while trying to talk to someone and acting sympathetic in which she really draws this in a great deal. Shows alot of good emotions while doing this and studied this part very strongly. Her looks for the role wasn't all that great like you'd expect since we often see a pretty girl next door type but oh well.
Theo Barnes (Morris) certainly draws in well showing his mysterious type of attitude and coming across as believeably eccentric too. He for sure knew on how to portray a horror type of character like a mad scientist of some sort. Does well with his anxious attitude as well as coming acorss as aggressive and obsessive like which he shows terrific energy while doing all of this. Also does a great job acting forceful and being insane while doing this which shows off perfectly too.
Lucille Saint-Peter (Martha) seemed to have an effective supporting role as someone who is a bit insane and acting like a fruitcake especially when she is calling to that parasite. She was great by freaking out when it has disappeared in which she made her actions very believeable. Also does a nice job at the end of her performance when she gets attacked with her hollering in pain which she shows off some decent energy here.

A bodybuilders butt is revealed while taking a shower
Woman's breast is also seen during a 3 way lustful dream sequence

Brains are revealed as a meal.
A parasite plunges through many people's heads.
Lots of blood splattering in different scene's with a brain slopping out in certain parts of the story to these victims.
A brain is eaten out of a head.
Someone pulls pieces of a brain out of their ear and the side of their heads cracks open with blood gushing out. Yes it looks that gross.

The music was terrifically well done in which we hear some heavy beats for the opening credits along with waltzy synthesizer music which sounds similar to something you'd almost hear in one of the Puppet Master flicks. Plus we hear some good icy organ type playing too for the twisted moments with two people who are about to feed their creature some brains which works in well. Plus good keyboard fast paced music in a junkyard scene with the main character Brian running around which sounded good and adventureous. In certain parts of the flick we also hear the odd chiming sounds too which was pretty strongly done. Good metal pipe scraping and clanging sounds for the dark moments used in the film. Plus a perfect ending song with chiming type synthesizer music along with a great smooth saxophone playing too. All of this was done by two composers who are named Clutch Reiser and Gus Russo.

Aylmer: Why are the stars always winkin' and blinkin' above? What makes a fellow start thinkin' of fallin' in love? It's not the season, the reason is plain as the moon. It's just Elmer's tune! What makes a lady, of eighty, go out on the loose? Why does a gander, meander, in search of a goose? What puts the kick in, a chicken, the magic in june? It's just Elmer's tune! Listen, listen, there's a lot you're liable to be missin' Sing it, swing it, any old place, and any old time. The hurdy-gurdies, the birdies, the cop on the beat. The candy-maker, the baker, the man on the street. The city charmer, the farmer, the man in the moon, all sing Elmer's tune!

Aylmer: You're a wreck, Brian. You've got to relax. Why don't you put me on your neck and 'calm down?'
Brian: No way! It's not gonna happen again!
Aylmer: What isn't?
Brian: Killing people!
Aylmer: Oh.
Aylmer: I thought you meant getting high!
Brian: We can't keep killing people every time you're hungry!
Aylmer: Oh yes we can. We'll do anything I want us to do. You're mine now, Brian. I *own* you...

Aylmer: [Elmer taunts Brian as he coughs and retches on the floor] What's the matter, Brian? Feeling ill?
Brian: Shut up!
Aylmer: Oh, please Brian! You're not gonna throw up in front of me, are you? I don't want to watch this. Why'd you bring me here? Why couldn't you leave me home? I'll tell you why, Brian. It's because you know you're not going to win. You know you're gonna need my juice.
Aylmer: You know the pain is going to get so great that only my juice will stop it. Only my juice will help you. You know that, don't you, Brian? Deep down inside you know that...

Aylmer: [to Brian] Why, Brian! Hello! How are ya? How ya doin?
Brian: [Weakly] Help me... please, help me.
Aylmer: Why, of course I'll help ya, Brian! You and me are pals. I'll be happy to help you... But you'll have to feed me first.

Brian: Elmer? You fucking named him Elmer?