Arrow Video has released Brain Damage the 1988 horror/comedy on a Blu-ray/DVD combo pack. Will it give you a euphoric blissful feeling or will you feel like you’ve had a lobotomy? Read on to find out!
Meet Aylmer. He’s your local, friendly parasite with the ability to induce euphoric hallucinations in his hosts. But these LSD-like trips come with a hefty price tag. When young Brian comes under Aylmer’s addictive spell, it’s not long before he finds himself scouring the city streets in search of his parasite’s preferred food source – brains!
Brain Damage comes from writer/director Frank Henenlotter who is known for such films as the Basket Case Trilogy and Frankenhooker. The film is fairly inventive and has a nice visual tone throughout the movie. I was only vaguely aware of Brain Damage previously and was going into the watching of the film blindly. I have to say I enjoyed it very much. It has a lower budget but there are some great slimy special effects and gobs of humor. I felt it was paced pretty well too and zoomed by at 86 minutes. Thankfully, Arrow has obtained the full uncut version of the film.
I have not seen very many films that are like Brain Damage. There are equal parts dark humor, social commentary, Lynchian characters and even elements of Cronenbergian horror. While never reaching the awe inspiring heights of Evil Dead or Bad Taste it still is a film that belongs in a certain type of movie collection. It’s not as extreme as one might think but it is certainly original and interesting. I applaud Arrow Video for their release.
Considering this is a low budget atmospheric 80’s film I think the picture and sound quality is great. Is it perfect? No, but this is the best available quality there was to work with for the transfer. I really think only the pickiest of viewers would complain about it. I certainly think the film alone is worth admission price but check out these packed special features. Please note that the back cover constantly spells it “Elmer” but the movie makes a specific point to tell us that it is spelled “Aylmer”.
- New Audio Commentary with Writer/Director Frank Henenlotter
- Listen to the Light: The Making of Brain Damage – Extensive documentary featuring star Rick Herbst and members of the crew.
- The Effects of Brain Damage – Special effects artist Gabe Bartalos looks back at his work.
- Animating Elmer – Interview with visual effects supervisor Al Magliochetti.
- Karen Ogle: A Look Back – Interview with still photographer, script supervisor and assistant editor Karen Ogle.
- Elmer’s Turf: The NYC Locations of Brain Damage – Original shooting locations.
- Tasty Memories: A Brain Damage Obsession – Interview with superfan Adam Skinner.
- Brain Damage Q&A with Frank Henenlotter – recorded at the 2016 Offscreen Film Festival.
- Image Galleries
- Theatrical Trailer
- Bygone Behemoth – Animated Short by Harry Chaskin featuring an appearance by John Zacherie voice of Aylmer.
- 31 page collectors booklet with writing by Michael Gingold and archive stills and posters.
- English SDH subtitles, reversible cover art and Limited Edition O-card.
Brain Damage Final Thoughts:
I thought Brain Damage was a lot of fun. This is not a film that everyone will enjoy but I think it’s pretty easy to tell if you belong to that group or not. It definitely deserves a spot in my collection. Arrow went above and beyond with all the fantastic extras. I am usually not concerned with slip covers but this is probably one of the nicest in my collection. I suggest checking out the film if you have never seen it. If you have already and know that you like it then I highly recommend picking it up from Amazon or other fine retailers.
Note: This Blu-ray was sent to us for review. This has not affected our judgement or editorial process in any way. Please contact us if you have any questions regarding this process.