Judge Patrick Naugle will now amuse you by translating this movie's title into Spanish: El hombre con el cerebro de griterío. The sad this is, that's more entertaining than the movie itself.
A terrifying tale of foreign intrigue, forbidden love and brain transplants gone horribly awry!
Burly cult icon Bruce Campbell (Army of Darkness) is American business wiz William Cole, traveling through the fictional country of Bravoda with his wife, Jackie (Antoinette Byron), in an attempt to diversify his pharmaceutical company's holdings. As Cole heads off on business, his wife goes sightseeing and shopping with a shady cabdriver, Yegor (Vladimir Kotev), who ends up "checking her luggage" in the backseat of his taxicab. At the same time, Dr. Ivan Ivanov (Stacy Keach, Escape From L.A.) and a dimwitted assistant (Ted Raimi, Xena: Warrior Princess) are conducting strange DNA tests that will hopefully provide medical patients with a risk-free organ transplant. When Cole and Yegor are killed—then caught in the middle of the mad doctor's experiments—Cole suddenly finds himself with a terrifying brain operation gone horribly right! It seems that Cole now has part of Yegor's brain inside his head, and with his help they'll discover the mystery behind the woman who caused both of their deaths!
Normally I don't mind slamming a movie. If it sucks, I'm more than happy to pummel a film like Randy "Macho Man" Savage taking down a plastic jar of Slim Jims. I've watched countless cinematic duds and never flinched when I've written things like "sucked donkey balls" and "makes sitting in a hot sauna with sumo wrestlers dining on baked beans sound enticing." I am, in every sense of the world, the consummate professional.
But I am going to feel bad about my review of The Man with the Screaming Brain.
I'm in love with Bruce Campbell. Of course, I don't mean that in a biblical way—I mean the kind of love that stems for years of adoration. If you've ever seen Bruce in any of the three Evil Dead films (all considered grade-A cult classics by millions of worldwide fans), you know what I'm talking about. So it's with great displeasure that I sit here and type that The Man with the Screaming Brain is a big, shiny turd. Written, directed, and starring Campbell, it's a cheap-o B grade groaner gone horribly wrong.
Please, Mr. Campbell, don't hate me.
I'm going to play favorites with Bruce and say that he's made a noble effort, even if it is a complete failure. I think Bruce was trying to make a mixture of old espionage films, zany classics like They Saved Hitler's Brain, and the Three Stooges. The finished product is a movie that is never very funny, hardly interesting, and cheaply made (in fact, some shots even look out of focus, and not on purpose).
The first half of the film involves either A) William Cole (Campbell) and his luscious wife in a cab have boring discussions or B) a mad scientist (Keach) and his assistant (Raimi) fooling around in their lab. When Cole's brain transplant finally happens, the movie suddenly becomes a very bad version of Steve Martin's far funnier All of Me, in which Lily Tomlin takes over half of Martin's body. The slapstick is piled on thick with Campbell running around street corners scaring innocent bystanders by flailing his arms at them. It's funny, the first three times. After that it's pretty repetitive comedy.
Of course, Campbell is a joy to watch in a few scenes where he's arguing with himself, but better actors have done it all (better) before. Keach looks dazed and confused, while Raimi (brother of Campbell buddy and Spider-Man director Sam Raimi) recites lines with an agonizingly tedious Bulgarian accent. The worst is a reanimated woman brought back to life as a reprogrammed robot—I haven't seen an electronic impression this bad since folks danced to Styx's "Mr. Roboto."
It's a sad day when I have to write that McHale's Navy (also featuring Campbell) is more tolerable than a movie titled The Man with the Screaming Brain. I wish Bruce Campbell the best of luck and chalk this stinker up to experimentation and a few bad investors. Let's hope he's learned his lesson, and next time maybe we'll see him donning that trusty old chainsaw and "boomstick" one last time.
The Man with the Screaming Brain is presented in a so-so 1.77:1 anamorphic widescreen presentation. The transfer for the film looks only slightly better than a late night showing on the Sci-Fi Channel. Many of the scenes look amateurish and a few are even out of focus. However, considering how much this film cost to make, I don't think any of us should be shocked. Colors and black levels are usually consistent, save for a few instances.
The soundtrack is presented in Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround as well as Dolby 2.0 Surround, both in English. The 5.1 mix is nice, if inconsistent—the bulk of the surrounds are either in background noises or music cues. Otherwise, this often feels like a front heavy mix with a few directional effects here and there. No alternate subtitles are available on this disc.
Not surprisingly, Anchor Bay has doled out a rather jam-packed edition of The Man with the Screaming Brain. Included on this disc is an amusing audio commentary with Bruce Campbell and producer David M. Goodman (even if the film bites, Campbell's hilarious commentaries often save the day); a featurette titled "Brain Surgeons: Making The Screaming Brain" with Campbell and Goodman wisecracking about the film's production, story and shoot; "Neurology 101: Evolution of the Screaming Brain" that is set in an amusing classroom with Campbell backed with a dry erase board; a trailer for the film; a behind-the-scenes image gallery; a storyboard gallery; a comic book gallery and a biography on Bruce Campbell.
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