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WEIRDO FLICKS: 'Brain Damage'

by Eli Kroes

You might not be familiar with the term 'Z-Movie,' but if you grew up in the 90's, chances are you've seen one. They're the beyond-low-budget monstrosities that teased you from the walls of the mom-and-pop video store. Usually, the films themselves could never live up to the pictures on the videotape boxes (because this was way before your fancy 'Digital Video Discs' and 'Blu-Rays') but occasionally you'd find something truly unique. 'WEIRDO FLICKS' will clue you into some movies which 'unique' doesn't even begin to describe...  

'Brain Damage' - 1988, Directed by Frank Henenlotter

Ah, 'Basket Case.' One of the most beloved no-budget trash flicks of the 80's. I guarantee you have a friend who loves this film and its basket-dwelling lump of flesh Belial. Frank Henenlotter took his love of grindhouse cinema and his tiny budget and created something legendary. Unfortunately, his other movies aren't as well-known. Too bad, because most of them are even better.

Along with the hilarious 'Frankenhooker' and the insanely disgusting comeback film 'Bad Biology,' Henenlotter also quietly released this '88 oddball semi-anti-drug flick. It concerns a man who finds his body taken over by a weird alien creature called The Aylmer that attaches itself to his brain. It talks in a matter-of-fact British accent, and secretes a mind-altering chemical which the main character, Brian, seems to enjoy.

It's not all so simple, though. The alien creature wants something in return, and that something is murder. Yep, by taking control of Brian's mind and body, the alien sends him on a killing spree so that it may feed.

Actually, come to think of it, the creature might NOT be an alien after all, but an 'embodiment of evil' sort of thing. I mean, it's obviously a heavy-handed metaphor for drug abuse, but that fact rarely gets in the way of the good time you'll have watching this thing.

There's an excellent scene where Brian, off his rocker on whatever chemical the Aylmer excretes, starts yelling 'woo hoo!' in a junkyard, and subsequently murders a cop who tries to arrest him.

The whole thing is a gooey, neon 80's good time, and if you loved 'Basket Case' but are sleeping on this one, you need to STOP that. It's pretty readily available, too.


VHS photo by Toby Hudson.