Cinema Sunday: The Brain That Wouldn’t Die (1962)


Title: The Brain That Wouldn’t Die

Distributor: American International Pictures

Writers: Rex Carlton, Joseph Green

Director: Joseph Green

Producers: Rex Carlton, Mort Landberg

Starring: Jason (Herb) Evers, Virginia Leith, Eddie Carmel, Leslie Daniels, Marilyn Hanold

Released: May 1962

MPAA: Approved


What lengths would you go to to insure that your loved one was by your side forever? Well, luckily we don’t have to guess in the case of The Brain That Wouldn’t Die! Now, admittedly, this title is a bit misleading, but there is a decapitated head, and other vile creatures in this little flick from 1962. It was actually filmed to completion in 1959 (during the sci-fi craze), but the production company allegedly ran into some financial troubles, and it put off the release of the film for a couple of years.

A quirky little film that hovers around some very creepy subjects, shows some wild, bloody scenes for the 1960’s, and lets us all know just how creepy doctors can be! Well, without further interruption, here we go!



The flick starts out in a hospital, where two men, Dr. Bill Cortner (Jason Evers), and his father, Dr. Cortner (Bruce Brighton), are attempting to save the life of someone in very bad shape. The elder of the two gives up, and then his son, Dr. Bill asks to perform an experimental surgery on the guy, because he’s flat-lined anyway. Dr. Bill then miraculously brings the man back to life, and his father is stunned. He doesn’t approve of the methods, but is happy about the results. The two have a quick conversation, and then Dr. Bill and his assistant, Jan Compton (Virginia Leith), head up the road to the family country home. On the way there though, the car can’t handle the curvy road, and Dr. Bill is thrown from the car. Jan isn’t so lucky, and is decapitated in the wreck!



Once Dr. Bill comes to, he realizes what’s happened and he does what anyone would do. He grabs a sack and puts Jan’s head into it, and runs to the family home they were traveling to before the wreck occurred. He devises a plan to seek out a “hot body” to attach Jan’s head to, and once again be with the woman he loves. At the house, we meet two more characters. The first is Kurt (Leslie Daniels), a former medical worker that aids Dr. Bill in his insidious experiments. You see, Dr. Bill isn’t a conventional doctor, he believes in taking risks, and doing things unconventionally. He’s been using limbs he’s stolen from the morgue to attempt to reattached them to a new host, in hopes that he’ll have a breakthrough in the process.



The second person we meet, is one of Dr. Bill’s experiments. We don’t actually see him, but we hear him groaning, and pounding on the door to his cell. It’s some kind of experiment gone wrong, but Dr. Bill still holds out hope that one day he’ll be able to “repair” him. Dr. Bill then shows Kurt Jan’s head, and explains to him that they must keep it alive with his new formula, and that he’ll find a new “hot body” for Jan. Meanwhile, Jan just wants to die and is horrified at what Dr. Bill is doing to her.



We soon realize that Dr. Bill’s experimental juice has a side-effect on Jan. It gives her some form of telepathy, and she can now communicate with people using her mind. She speaks out loud to Kurt, and Dr. Bill, but she mentally communicates with the thing locked in the cell nearby. Kurt disagrees with Dr. Bill and thinks Jan should be allowed to die. You might wonder why Kurt helps Dr. Bill in the first place, but there is a good reason. Kurt has a bad arm, and basically can’t use it for anything. It seems that Dr. Bill used his transplant operation on Kurt, but it didn’t take. Now Kurt stays in the hopes of one day getting a new arm.



Just before he heads out on his mission to find a hot woman for Jan’s head, he checks the thing in the closet. He’s horrified by what’s in there, and Kurt tells him that it almost broke free the other night. Dr. Bill tells him that it can’t break free because of the thickness of the door, but Kurt is less than hopeful. Dr. Bill heads out and heads straight for…wait for it…a strip club. You’ve got to admire his “love”for his girlfriend Jan. Inside this waspy club, we see some fine ladies earning their money. Immediately, Dr. Bill takes a liking to one of them, but can’t seal the deal. Back at the lab, Kurt spies on Jan and her new friend. He’s so scared he almost craps himself when he realizes that they can communicate. You get the feeling that Jan has a growing resentment for Kurt, and her former lover, and that this isn’t going to end well.



Back to Dr. Bill and his search. After failing miserably at the strip club, he finds a woman that he knew from college that was disfigured. She’s now a figure model, and lets men come to her house to photograph her wearing almost nothing, for money. Dr. Bill waits until the “session” is over, and tells her that he still thinks she’s beautiful, and he’d like to get re-acquainted. At first, she isn’t very receptive, but she eventually wants so badly to have her face back the way it used to be, she relents to his request to hang out at his place for a consult.



I won’t go any further at this point, because this is a very short movie (just over an hour), and anything more would give the ending away. Suffice to say that there will be bloodshed, and Jan, Dr. Bill, Kurt, and the monster will all have a night they will never forget!




OK, here are my thoughts:

This film is another in a long line of public domain flicks that are most certainly underrated. Obviously it’s a “B” movie for a reason, the sets aren’t awesome, and there aren’t any actors/actresses that most will recognize, but don’t let that deter you from giving this one a watch. For one thing, Jan’s head is REALLY creepy! Imagine being a moviegoer in 1962, and seeing what looks like a real head with all these wires and tubes hooked up to it, talking, and making these different facial expressions. Also, that as the movie goes on, Jan gets absolutely crazy. Now, we don’t know if this is from the serum that Dr. Bill has given her or just insanity setting in because of dealing with being decapitated and kept alive. Either way, Jan is CREEPY!

The other cool thing about this flick is the monster behind the door. We don’t get a lot of action from him, but when we do, he goes on a bloody rampage that makes King Kong look like a circus chimp. The actor who played the monster, Eddie Carmel, isn’t a household name now, but back then, he was known for doing carnival sideshows, and things like that, due to his condition of Gigantism. The dude was 8′ 9″ tall, and looked like an absolute terror. The makeup was anything to get worked up about, but just the sheer size of the man is enough to scare anyone. Sadly, as most with that condition, he died at a very young age.

Give the link a click, and sit down for an hour or so and give this one a chance. You get some fine ladies, a killer giant, and a deranged doctor that can’t even land a girl at a strip club!


Click here for the full movie!




Cinema Sunday: The Town That Dreaded Sundown (1976)



Title: The Town That Dreaded Sundown

Distributor: AIP

Writer: Earl E. Smith

Director: Charles B. Pierce

Producers: Charles B. Pierce and Samuel Z. Arkoff

Starring: Ben Johnson, Andrew Prine, Dawn Wells, Bud Davis

Released: December 24th, 1976



By the time everyone reads this review, I’ll have been out in Pittsburgh, at my first ever Monsterbash! The Bash is a horror/sci-fi convention for nuts like me that grew up on old-school horror and sci-fi movies. You know, those flicks shown either late at night or on a Saturday after noon by some “horror host” such as Uncle Ted, the one I watched host a show called “Monstermania,” that showed everything from Godzilla movies to the classic Universal films from the 1930’s and 1940’s. I remember staying up late (past the time I was allowed – sorry, Mom!), on Friday night, or on Saturday afternoon, and watching these scary flicks.

OK, now let me just say that I’ve wanted to check out this movie for quite sometime, and thanks to Netflix, I can now say that I have. I won’t get into the specifics until after the review, but I will say that any film with Mary Ann from Gilligan’s Island, is OK by me. Alright, on to the movie…


Town That Dreaded Sundown


The film begins with some narrative by a voice (Vern Stierman), that informs us that the town of Texarkana is a quiet little town that has many men returning from WWII, and trying to live a normal life. We watch across town, as people live their lives, and in one case, we see a wedding ceremony ending. In this year, 1946, there is also something sinister walking the streets. We then see only the legs and feet of someone (presumably the killer), as he makes his way to a scene downtown, where some young people are congregating. As two of the young people (Linda Mae Jenkins, Sammy Fuller)  leave, they head to a remote area to go “parking.” As they arrive, the young lady is less than cooperative, but we soon see that someone is creeping around the car. Suddenly, a hooded figure appears, and pops the hood of the car, then rips out the distributor. The young man tries to start the car, but no go. The woman shrieks in fear, and the hooded man pulls the young man out of the car through the window (after smashing it with a crowbar). He beats the young man savagely, and then pulls the woman out of the car.



The next morning, we see the young woman, bloody and beaten to a pulp, trying to get to the freeway. A car drives by and sees her, then the police arrive, along with te ambulance. We see Deputy Ramsey (Andrew Prine – image above), as he radios back to the station to give them some info about the incident. We then see the sheriff and Deputy Ramsey at the hospital, attempting to get some answers from the victims. The doctor tells them that it’s too early for that, because of sedation and trauma. The doctor does tell them that the victims were beaten badly, and that the woman was even bitten several times!

Later, the Captain asks the Deputy and the sheriff what they have, and they tell him they’ve got nothing. Another night falls, and our narrator explains the lives of two more young people. The two have an argument, but settle their differences quickly. The two then head to a spot to “get it on” and we see  Deputy Ramsey patrolling some of the local haunts. As he leaves the vehicle for a moment, he hears two gunshots nearby, and heads in that direction. He calls for backup, and parks near a car stopped on a gravel road. He approaches it with caution, but finds no one inside. Two more shots ring out close by, and he runs towards them (after calling for backup again). As he checks out the nearby brush, he finds the young man from the car, with a gunshot wound to the head. Close by, the young woman is tied to a tree, also shot dead. As Deputy Ramsey looks on in horror, he hears footsteps, and pursues the person. He only sees a dark figure, as it jumps into a car, and flees the scene.



Within a few days, gun stores are sold out of weapons, and hardware stores cannot keep up with the sales of locks. Deputy Ramsey and the Sheriff call the capital for help, and they’re told that they’ll send the best investigator in the country. Captain J. D. Morales (Ben Johnson – image above), of the Texas rangers is on his way, and they head out to meet him. They meet him at the train station, and then head over to the station to discuss the operation. Ramsey teams up with Morales, and the two begin a whole new investigation into the murders.  Speaking of the murders, they seem to have taken place exactly 21 days apart, and Morales thinks this might be something the killer is doing intentionally. They head out to the crime scenes to check for anything they might have missed. They also set up curfews, warn citizens of the trouble. Of course, they get a bunch of nuts that confess to the killings, but Morales knows they’re full of it.

The cops get an idea to set up some decoys to try to catch the killer. They have male officers dress in drag (yes, really – image below), and sit in parked cars with other officers, trying to tempt the killer. Morales tells them to stay alert, and be ready for anything. Meanwhile, in town, the local students are having a dance, but the police don’t seem to be worried about them for some reason. The dance will go on until two or so, and they figure they can wait until then to make sure they get home OK. A couple leaves a bit later than the others, and this will of course be their undoing. They pack up the car, as the girl is in the band (a trombone player), and then head for a “make out” session before curfew. The two are interrupted by the “Phantom” as he brutally attacks them both. He beats the young man to a pulp, then chases the girl into the woods. He drags her back to the car (and her boyfriend), and ties her to a tree. He then fastens a knife to the end of her trombone, and belts out a “tune,” stabbing her countless times.




The next day, Morales, Ramsey, and a few other policemen, along with some local government officials, are having dinner, and discussing the case. A psychiatrist tells them that they don’t have much of a chance to catch him, but Morales isn’t having any of that nonsense. As the men continue to discuss things, someone gets up from the table, and leaves. The others don’t even give the person a look, but we see the boots of the person, and they look like those of the killer. The following day, a man tells the police that a man jumped in his car, and threatened to kill him, just as he had the others in the area, if he didn’t give him a ride. The police then get a call from a store owner that it was robbed, and the perpetrator matches the description that the man gave earlier during his talk with the police. The police speed to the scene, and see the man leaving. A chase scene follows, and then they eventually catch him. The guy claims to be the “Phantom” but he’s obviously not (he seems like an imbecile).



A few weeks later, and a woman, Helen Reed (Dawn Wells), is leaving the grocery store, and a man pulls up next to her car, and stares at her. She nods at the man, looking at him quizzically, then leaves. Later that day, she’s brushing her hair, while her husband is reading the paper by the window. In an instant, we see the hooded man by the window, aiming a pistol at his head. He pulls the trigger twice, shooting the man in the head. Helen screams, and then sees the hooded man by the back door of the house. He bursts through the screen door, and shoots her twice as well. She manages to survive though, and she crawls to the neighbor’s house for help. The hooded man follows, but by then, the neighbor has a shotgun, and tells his wife to call the police. The hooded man pursues, grabbing a pick axe on his way through the house. He gives up the chase as the dog, plus the neighbor with the shotgun are enough to deter him this night.



The police then ramp up their patrols, but the next scheduled attack comes and goes without any disturbance. One day, Morales and Ramsey are driving around and get a call that a stolen car was found nearby, so they check it out. It’s the car that Deputy Ramsey saw the night of the second murders, and the two men grab shotguns and head out into the wooded area nearby. A nearby sandpit shows some tracks made from boots, and they get the feeling that they’re on to something. As they move around the pits, they see the hooded man atop a hill. Morales shoots at him, but misses. Ramsey and he then take off after the man, but he dives across some railroad tracks just as a train comes by. They shoot between and under the cars and manage to hit him in the leg, but by the time the train passes, he’s gone.



There’s no need to go any further, because essentially, that’s the end of the movie.


OK, here are my thoughts:

Alright, this movie has its good points and bad points. First things first, is that they had some foolish comedic scenes in this movie that were just awful. This is part because it’s fact, and partly because I can’t personally stand when horror/suspense films attempt to shoe-horn in comedy. Secondly, the film basically has no ending, and it’s kind of understandable, because this film is loosely based on a true story, where the killer was never caught. Also, the director/producer, Pierce, was in the film as the “keystone cop” Sparkplug. This was a terrible idea, for more than one reason, and his acting was the biggest reason.

The good points were good enough to make the film enjoyable though, and those mostly revolved around the scenes with the killer doing his thing. The scenes were pretty creepy, and when you realize that these murders really happened, and the guy was never caught, it’s even more terrifying. I love when films don’t overdo costumes, like in this one. A simple shirt, pants, and hood, make this guy really menacing, and you won’t even want to imagine coming face to face with this guy. Think about it; most of the really scary horror villains don’t have an overload of make-up in these types of films, they just keep it simple and let the situations creep out the viewers. Speaking of types of films, I think this might be one of the first films you could classify as a “slasher” film. It has all the elements of the more modern films of that genre, for sure. Ben Johnson did a fine job and should be lauded for bringing this film to a higher place than it would have without him. Andrew Prine turned in a pretty good performance as well, so kudos to him.


Click here for the trailer!



Cinema Sunday: The Terror (1963)


Title: The Terror

Distributor: AIP

Writer: Leo Gordon and Jack Hill

Director: Roger Corman

Producer: Roger Corman

Starring: Boris Karloff, Jack Nicholson, Sandra Knight, Dick Miller

Released: June 17th, 1963



With the scary day approaching later this month, I thought it best to showcase a movie starring one of the industries all-time greats. Boris Karloff is certainly recognized for his roles as the Frankenstein Monster, and the Mummy. But honestly, that’s just the tip of the iceberg for Mr. Karloff (William Henry Pratt). Karloff starred in many other horror films, and certainly the films with director Roger Corman must be mentioned!

Speaking of Corman films, today’s post is about the 1963 film “The Terror,” and it comes as no surprise that not only did Corman get a legend like Karloff for this film, but also a young man named Jack Nicholson! Another horror film staple, Dick Miller is in this one, and he collaborated with Corman before as well. Alright, let’s get down to this one!



As the film opens, we see an old castle, being besieged by a thunder-storm. Inside, an old man, Baron von Leppe (Boris Karloff), is trudging through the halls. He suddenly sees blood drops leaving a trail. He follows the trail, and winds up finding a cadaver hiding behind a curtain. Cue the opening credits, then we watch as a soldier on a horse, Andre Duvalier  (Jack Nicholson) is very weary, and falls off of the horse, to the ground. He struggles to get o his feet, but then sees a beautiful woman nearby. A man is watching him from the top of the hill, but we cannot see who it is yet. As Andre nears the woman, she runs off, but then points him in the direction of some water. He tells her that he was lost from the regiment he was in, and that he doesn’t know where he’s located. The woman listens to his story, and tells him that her name is Helene (Sandra Knight). The two walk through the woods, and then the girl suddenly walks into the ocean and disappears. Andre goes after her, but almost drowns after being attacked by a hawk.



Andre then wakes up in the home of some old hag (Dorothy Neumann). He asks the hag where Helene is, but the hag doesn’t know what he’s talking about. Andre wakes in the night, and heads outside. He notices someone down by the river, and once again, sees Helene. She strokes his face, then hugs him. The next thing you know she’s making out with him, but then abruptly walks away. He chases after her (who wouldn’t?), but gets stopped by the old hag’s servant, Gustaf. He tells Andre that there is danger near, and shows him that there is quicksand all around. Gustaf tells Andre that the woman is possessed, and that he can go to the nearby castle to help her.

The old woman begs him not to seek out the castle, and if he must, to at least not tell the Baron she is living nearby. He rides his horse for a while, but eventually reaches the castle. He spies the young woman, but she rebuffs his attempts. he then pounds on the door, demanding to be let inside. The Baron answers, and is hesitant to let him in, but does agree to his demand. The two engage in some small talk, and then the Baron calls his man-servant, Stefan (Dick Miller), and tells him to get them some Cognac. Andre asks where the girl is, and the Baron tells him that no girl lives at the castle. He shows him a portrait of the woman, and tells him that she was his wife, and, that she’s been dead for twenty years.



Later that night, something is trying to break into the barn, and the horses are going wild. Andre is looks out to see what’s going on, and once again sees the young woman. He yells to her, but she ignores him, and walks away. He then hears some kind of wailing outside of his room, and grabs a gun for protection. The door is locked, and he demands that it be opened or he’ll shoot through it at whoever is outside. It unlocks, but when he opens the door, no one is there in the hallway. He quickly searches the castle, thinking someone must be near, but finds no one. He then heads to another area of the castle, and sees the memorial for the Baron’s dead wife. As he heads back towards his room, he hears a noise that startles him. He opens the door, and jumps back, because he thinks he sees the young woman. Inside his room, he finds a picture of the woman, and wonders what is going on in this castle.

The next morning, the Baron tells Stefan that they must get Andre to leave, but without any shenanigans. Andre confronts Stefan, but when he gets no answers, he then goes to the Baron. After some verbal jousting, the Baron consents and tells Andre that his wife was a peasant girl from the village below. He left one day for a war, and then later returned home, unannounced. He found his wife with another man, so he killed her. He then tells him that Stefan killed her lover. He also admits that there is a spirit torturing him, and he thinks it’s the spirit of his dead wife. Andre is skeptical, but then the Baron asks if Andre thinks he’s mad. Andre replies that he doesn’t know what to think yet. The Baron tells him that since he has seen the woman also, maybe they’re both mad. And he says it with a smile.



The following day, we see Gustaf, and he’s watching Ilsa standing by the sea. Gustaf tells the woman to go back to the sea, but she refuses, and tells Gustaf that the old woman commands her, and she’ll not relent until she tells her to. Ilsa also give Gustaf a warning to not interfere, or else the old woman won’t keep looking the other way. Speaking of the old woman, she’s back at her house, preparing a potion, and using  black magic on Ilsa. A man watches from the window, take sit all in. The man is Stefan, ans he comes inside, and threatens to kill her if she doesn’t leave by tomorrow night. Stefan returns to the castle, and tells the Baron that they should kill Andre. The Baron forbids it, and Stefan gets angry.



Andre then begins to explore more of the castle, searching for Ilsa/Helene. He finds a room (possibly Stefan’s?), and begins to look for clues. He finds a pistol, and checks it out, but then turns his attention to the rest of the room. He then hears a door lock, and attempts to open it with no success. A voice then calls out to him, and he tries the door again, and it opens. As he looks for the woman, we see the Baron is nearby, and something is amiss. He hears a conversation, and bursts into the Baron’s room. No one is there beside the Baron. Stefan returns from the village with a horse for Andre, and he then asks him “who Eric is.” Stefan explains that he was Ilsa’s lover that he killed years ago. Meanwhile, out by the coastline, Gustaf is trying to help Andre, but that crazy hawk returns, and pecks his eyes out (image above)! he then tumbles down the cliff to his death. Andre tries to help, but Gustaf only has one gasp left in him, and he tells Andre to go back to the castle to help the woman.



He does return, and find the girl, and we get another make-out scene ( no woman can resist 1960’s Jack!). Her plunging neckline nightie is enough to keep his attention, and she tells him that she cannot leave the castle until the crypt is destroyed. He begs her to come away with him, but she refuses out of fear. Cue another make-out scene, and they both declare their love for the other. As Andre tells her to wait there for him to return, he walks away, but when he looks back, she’s gone again. He enters the castle, and the Baron, unaware that he’s back, opens the same gate from the beginning of the movie. He then opens a secret passageway to another room, and Andre follows him. The Baron heads down into the basement, creeping further and further into the bowels, until he reaches the crypt. he talks to the coffin, and tells Ilsa that they’ll soon be together, because Stefan is going to flood the crypt and kill him. A voice cries out to him, and tells him that he must do something. Just then, Andre bursts into the room, and calls out to the woman. The Baron struggles to stop him, and faints from the excitement.



Andre and Stefan head to the chapel, and then try to open the vault. It’s rusted shut, and they cannot open it. On their way to get a crowbar, they notice a light in the window of the former baroness’s window. They investigate, but have to break down the door to get in. Stefan warns Andre that the Baron won’t be happy about this, and just as they enter, the Baron shouts at them from behind. He’s got his pistol, and he orders Stefan to escort Andre out of the castle, and if he resists, to shoot him. His former wife shows up, and tells him to commit suicide. She tells him that they can be together again if he will. On the way out of the castle, Andre jumps Stefan, and knocks him unconscious.

I’ll stop here because to go further would be insanity!

OK, here are my thoughts:

Listen, for all those detractors out there, I get the criticisms about this movie. I cannot deny that the movie is sluggish, and doesn’t have the best acting, or sets, or special effects, or…OK, listen, Boris Karloff does a great job playing an old loony guy in a castle. There is a neat little twist at the end, and it will surprise anyone that watches this flick. It’s a total reversal of what is initially shown. The only problem I have is that there isn’t a true “villain” in the movie, or lost causes. Well, I guess the old hag is pretty much a villain, but she has motives beyond simple avarice or blood-lust.

The sets weren’t the best, but the old castle was pretty cool. It looked like something from a Tyburn or Amicus flick. You know, not quite Hammer but decent, nonetheless. The music score was actually pretty good, and we have Ronald Stein and Les Baxter to thank for that. Dick Miller plays a good henchman, and really adds just a bit of flavor to the film. Anybody that knows Corman, will be able to take into consideration that the guy made films for basically no budget, and reused everything including the kitchen sink. When you factor that in, you have to at least appreciate the film on those grounds. Nicholson was OK, but watching this movie now, after seeing many of his other films, I just can’t get into his character. He just isn’t very convincing.

Definitely give a click on the link below, because the film is public domain. Decide for yourself if it’s any good, but remember, Corman probably made this film for $50, and a few favors, so give the guy a break, huh?


Click here to watch the movie!