Looking back on The Brain from nearly thirty years after it was released, there seem few films designed as such a pure essence of the cheesy 1980s makeup effects-driven film. This is more than apparent from the opening scene where Susannah Hoffman is affected and starts hallucinating clawed hands and tentacles appearing out of the wall and tv set and her teddy bear bleeding before the brain smashes its way out of her mirror and grabs her with its tentacles.
The Brain ticks all the boxes for this genre cheesy low-budget makeup effects; the disaffected teenager and his girlfriend on the run. Theres the sinister psychological institute from a bunch of films common to this era Strange Behaviour/Dead Kids (1981), Dreamscape (1984), Bad Dreams (1988) and especially David Cronenberg films like The Brood (1979) and Scanners (1981). Indeed, The Brain feels very much like a David Cronenberg film reconceived as a low-budget makeup effects vehicle. Oh and there is David Gale, famous as the dean in Re-Animator (1985), the sole name star attached, who has been imported to play the mad psychiatrist.
The Brain is ridiculously entertaining fun in (I have to say it) a brain-unengaged way. There is the wonderful absurdity of people being pursued by a giant brain that is about the size of a small car. At one point, the brain devours assistant Christine Kossack whole and David Gale sits back and comments Thats food for thought. And in between that there are a variety of scenes with ordinary people experiencing hallucinations and/or being taken over by their tv sets and turning and attacking others. We even get a wonderfully ridiculous scene where hero Tom Breznahan is driving along the highway while hallucinating tentacles appearing out of the steering column of the car. In the climactic showdown, he knocks David Gales head off to reveal he is a puppet controlled by the brain.
Clip from the film here:-
Full film available online here:-