Watch The Brain That Wouldn't Die
- 1 hr 22 min
The movie, The Brain That Wouldn't Die, from 1962 stars Jason Evers, Virginia Leith, and Anthony La Penna. The film opens with a surgeon, Dr. Bill Cortner (Evers), who is obsessed with developing a way to keep human organs functioning even after they have been removed from the body. During a car ride with his fiancee, Jan (Leith), they get into a terrible accident that leaves Jan decapitated. Despite this, Doctor Cortner manages to keep her head alive by using the experimental techniques he has developed.
Determined to create a new body for Jan, Dr. Cortner roams around the city in search of the perfect body that he can transplant Jan's head onto. He comes into contact with a stripper named Doris Powell (Adele Lamont), who becomes his captive. While Doris struggles to fight back and avoid being the next victim to Dr. Cortner's experiments, Jan, now just a living head in a tray, becomes increasingly agitated with being kept alive without a body.
Dr. Cortner appoints himself as the powerful force that will create the perfect mate for Jan. He is convinced that his new body for Jan will be flawless and there will be no reason for Jan to dislike her new form. However, when Dr. Cortner brings Jan's new body to life, it turns out to be a hideous monster kept in a closet. Jan, in a fit of rage, realizes what she has been turned into and reproaches Dr. Cortner for his horrible experiments.
From here on, the once-submissive living head in the tray turns out to be the only force holding Doris from falling victim to the gruesome fate that Dr. Cortner has planned out for her. Jan succeeds in telepathically communicating with her soon-to-be victim and alerting her to her impending fate. Jan pleads with Doris to call the police and report Dr. Cortnerâs activity; the living head in a tray becomes the conscience that Dr. Cortner has lost somewhere in his pursuit of perfecting his experiments.
The movie is very much a reflection of its time, both in terms of its production values and its portrayal of women. Jan is objectified throughout the movie, and the fact that she is reduced to nothing more than a head in a tray for a significant part of the film may seem disturbing to modern viewers. However, it is worth noting that Jan is the character that brings a lot of emotional heft to the story by depicting the horror of being a powerless, disembodied entity. The film is most famous for its ending, which I can't reveal here for fear of spoilers, but suffice it to say that it is a twist that no one saw coming.
Overall, The Brain That Wouldn't Die has earned its place as a cult classic. Despite its low budget, it manages to create a story that takes itself seriously and treats its characters with gravitas. There are some disturbing moments that may make audiences feel uneasy, but that is to be expected, considering the subject matter. Ultimately, the movie can be seen as a warning about the dangers of objectifying women and the need to be careful when meddling with the unknown, both in science and in our personal lives.
The Brain That Wouldn't Die is a 1962 horror movie with a runtime of 1 hour and 22 minutes. It has received mostly poor reviews from critics and viewers, who have given it an IMDb score of 4.5.