Blu-Ray Review: Brain Damage

Frank Henenlotter is a name you may not be familiar with unless you’re a devotee of horror cinema. However, for genre fans he’s an extremely popular figure; still regularly attending film festivals. Undoubtedly best-known for Basket Case, its sequels, and Frankenhooker, Henenlotter considers himself to be a purveyor of exploitation cinema. However, as Brain Damage so wonderfully demonstrates, he thrives in horror comedy.

Unsuspecting teenager Brian (Rick Hearst) has a shock when Aylmer (voiced by John Zacherle) enters his life. A chatty parasite with the ability to give you one heck of a high, Brian is initially overjoyed by this turn of events. His brother (Gordon MacDonald) and girlfriend (Jennifer Lowry) are much less enamoured as he becomes increasingly distant and unpredictable. However, Brian soon discovers a drawback. This hallucinogenic experience comes at a cost. Aylmer, it turns out, has a taste for brains.

Brain Damage is an absolute blast. There’s no denying that Aylmer bears a remarkable resemblance to a large blue alien penis, and they play-up on this phallic similarity. This is a film which would only really work in the ‘80s. It’s absolutely bonkers and great fun throughout. It certainly looks great in the HD presentation and there’s a wealth of great extras on this limited-edition release. Brain Damage is horror comedy at its best, featuring a lively parasite with a mind of his own and a thirst for brains.

Limited Edition Contents:

  • High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) and Standard Definition DVD presentations

  • Original Mono and 5.1 DTS-HD MA Surround Audio Options

  • Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing

  • Isolated Score

  • Brand new audio commentary by writer-director Frank Henenlotter

  • Listen to the Light: The Making of Brain Damage – brand new documentary featuring interviews with actor Rick Herbst, producer Edgar Ievins, editor James Kwei, first assistant director Gregory Lamberson, visual effects supervisor Al Magliochetti and makeup artist Dan Frye

  • The Effects of Brain Damage – FX artist and creator of “Elmer” Gabe Bartalos looks back at his iconic effects work on the film

  • Animating Elmer – featurette looking at the contributions of visual effects supervisor Al Magliochetti

  • Karen Ogle: A Look Back – stills photographer, script supervisor and assistant editor Karen Ogle recalls her fond memories of working on Brain Damage

  • Elmer’s Turf: The NYC Locations of Brain Damage – featurette revisiting the film’s original shooting locations

  • Tasty Memories: A Brain Damage Obsession – an interview with superfan Adam Skinner

  • Brain Damage Q&A with Frank Henenlotter recorded at the 2016 Offscreen Film Festival

  • Image Galleries

  • Original Theatrical Trailer

  • Bygone Behemoth – animated short by Harry Chaskin, featuring a brief appearance by John Zacherle in his final onscreen credit

  • Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Sara Deck

  • Limited Edition O-card with exclusive artwork

  • Collector’s Booklet with new writing on the film by Michael Gingold, illustrated with original archive stills and posters

Brain Damage is released in a limited edition Blu-ray and DVD package by Arrow Video on Monday 8 May.

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