Blu-ray Review: The Brain (1988)
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The Brain
Director: Ed Hunt
Screenwriter: Barry Pearson
Cast: Tom Bresnahan, Cynthia Preston, David Gale, George Buza, Christine Kossak
Distributor: Scream Factory
Rated R | 94 Minutes
Release Date: April 30, 2019

Originally released on VHS and LaserDisc in 1989 by International Video Entertainment, The Brain is the latest obscure horror title to get a Blu-ray release thanks to Scream Factory, Shout! Factory’s label specializing in classic and cult genre films. The disc is packed with extensive new bonus features, including new audio commentaries with the cast and crew. If you’ve never experienced this Canadian curiosity, keep reading for a full review of the high-definition release!

Directed by Ed Hunt (of Bloody Birthday and Halloween Hell), the science fiction horror movie stars David Gale (of Re-Animator) as Dr. Anthony Blakely, Psychological Research Institute scientist and host of Independent Thinkers, a hot new television program in which the doctor offers expert advice on how to improve one’s life. How does he do it? With the help of a massive alien brain in a jar, of course. The brain broadcasts hypnotic messages to the audience, brainwashing viewers in an attempt to enslave the masses.

Enter teenage troublemaker Jim (Tom Bresnahan of 1990’s Mirror, Mirror) who’s sent to PRI for help with behavioral issues. Jim soon discovers what’s happening behind closed doors at the research institute and, with the help of his girlfriend Janet (Cynthia Preston of Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan) attempts to expose Blakely’s evil agenda to the world. There’s just one problem: the brain, much like Audrey II in Little Shop of Horrors, has a voracious appetite for human flesh and Jim and his high school sweetheart are on the menu.

Before checking out this release, I had only seen The Brain on a bootleg VHS-to-DVD transfer I picked up at a horror convention for a few bucks. Until now, that was really the only way to watch this wacky Canuxploitation flick – it never received a proper DVD release in the United States. Needless to say, Scream Factory’s Blu-ray release is a significant upgrade, boasting a 4K scan of the original negative and a 2.0 DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack.

I never thought I would see the day when The Brain would be available on Blu-ray, but here we are, with a fantastic, texture-rich transfer that brings the titular brain to life in all its pulsating, putrid glory. Colors are vibrant and bold, while the heavy film grain adds to the nostalgia factor. Hunt’s 1988 film has never looked or sounded better; this isn’t just a niche Blu-ray release, it’s honest-to-goodness film preservation. Scream Factory has restored this obscure film and preserved it for future generations to discover.

In addition to the incredible new transfer, this release also includes new audio commentaries with director Ed Hunt, composer Paul Zaza, and actor Tom Bresnahan. There’s even a bunch of new featurettes, including “Canada on the Mind” with actress Cynthia Preston, “From Monster Kid to Monster Man” with actor George Buza, “Brain Art” with assistant art director Michael Borthwick, and “Food for Thought: A Love Letter to The Brain.”

A cheesy hodgepodge of David Cronenberg films like Scanners and Videodrome, as well as ’50s B-movies like The Brain from Planet Arous, The Brain That Wouldn’t Die, and Donovan’s Brain, The Brain is certainly worth a look if you’re into obscure ’80s VHS trash – and I know you are. Scream Factory’s fantastic release is now available at Amazon. For more reviews of Scream Factory releases, click here.

Clip: Melodramatic Makeup

Clip: Food For Thought

Cover Art

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