Blu-ray Review: The Brain The Wouldn’t Die (1962).

Brain The Wouldn't Die LC8

Directed by Joseph Green
Produced by Rex Carlton
Screenplay by Joseph Green
Story by Rex Carlton and Joseph Green
Director Of Photography: Stephen Hajnal
Film Editors: Leonard Anderson and Marc Anderson
Music: Abe Baker and Tony Restaino

Cast: Jason “Herb” Evers (Dr. Bill Cortner), Virginia Leith (Jan Compton), Leslie Daniels (Kurt), Adele Lamont (Doris Powell), Marilyn Hanold (Peggy Howard), Bruce Brighton (Dr. Cortner), Eddie Carmel (Monster)


One of the great things about the DVD/Blu-ray era we find ourselves in is that somebody like Shout Factory will come along and make a cheap movie look like a million bucks. And with The Brain That Wouldn’t Die (1962) — a picture that’s probably available at your local dollar store looking like crap — that’s exactly what they’ve done.

Brain The Wouldn't Die LC4

Dr. Bill Cortner (Herb Evers) is a brilliant surgeon who’s conducting some bizarre transplantation experiments at his family’s country estate. When his fiancé Jan (Virginia Leith) is decapitated in a car wreck, Cortner preserves her head in a pan while he heads off to burlesque houses in search of a new body (told you he was brilliant). In the meantime, Jan begins to communicate telepathically with a hideous mutant (Eddie Carmel) locked up in Cortner’s basement. From there, it gets weird.


Shot around Tarrytown, New York, in 1959 under the title The Black Door, it wasn’t released until AIP picked it up in 1962. (Somewhere along the way, it was going to be called The Head That Wouldn’t Die.) AIP trimmed the picture a bit for release, and that’s the way I saw it countless times on the late show as a kid. As cheap and crummy as it may be, I always found it creepy and unsettling.


The new Blu-ray from Shout Factory was transferred from the original negative. It’s finally offered up uncut — 100% of its gore and sleaze are intact. It’s absolutely stunning to look at — which makes you realize just how (surprisingly) well it was shot to begin with. The contrast levels are perfect, making this a superb example of high-definition black and white. There are plenty of extras, too, from a commentary to some “international” scenes to the MST3K episode featuring the film.

While I can’t really recommend the movie itself — a 53-year-old no-budget gore movie is a bit of a niche product, it’s easy to recommend the Blu-ray. We’ve come to expect this kind of video treatment for something like Casablanca (1942), 2001: a space odyssey (1968) or the Bond films. To see a picture like The Brain That Wouldn’t Die given such attention makes my heart feel good. Thanks, Scream Factory.


Filed under 1962, AIP, DVD/Blu-ray Reviews, Shout/Scream Factory

3 responses to “Blu-ray Review: The Brain The Wouldn’t Die (1962).

  1. john k

    The only reservation I have about getting this,
    is it’s kinda sad to see Virginia Leith reduced to this
    sort of thing especially after the promise she showed in
    several high profile Fox pictures in the Fifties.

    It’s good to hear that the transfer is good and the extras
    seem to be neat as well.

    Playing a severed head is never a good career move for an
    actress,I recall lovely Kathleen Breck who showed such
    promise in an early Michael Winner flick WEST 11
    Later she too appeared as a head in the abysmal
    THE FROZEN DEAD surely the nadir of Dana Andrews’
    career. I knew someone who worked on that show-he said that
    the director was most unpleasant but Dana was a lovely guy.


  2. john k

    I might add that THE FROZEN DEAD might actually
    be TOO bad to be included in one of Richard Oravitz’s
    good wine,bad movie evenings.

    Good and bad news from Kino Lorber firstly the
    Blu Ray of THE 4D MAN has been cancelled because of
    “clearance” issues………..Bummer!
    The good news however is that INVISIBLE INVADERS
    is about to get a brand new 2016 High Def remaster.
    I love INVISIBLE INVADERS totally wacky fun and a must for any
    “trash addict”


  3. john k

    may be too trashy for even me.
    Severed head movies are not really my thing,
    especially as Virginia Leith was involved.
    I totally take Toby’s point that there is something
    really appealing about seeing a no-budget movie
    in high-def.
    Glenn at DVD Savant has just reviewed THE PHANTOM
    FROM 10,000 LEAGUES and like Toby, mentions that the
    new HD transfer from Kino Lorber is a joy to behold.
    While the film was a huge let down to us thrill seeking kids
    the opportunity to see it in such pristine condition is an offer
    I simply cannot refuse. Plus, I like the leads Kent Taylor and
    Cathy Downs despite the fact their careers were self destructing
    at the time.
    And what about DOP Brydon Baker this was his “comeback” after
    a 20 year break from ultra cheap Westerns.
    Lippert certainly used him quite a bit on RegalScope titles and other
    stuff like RETURN OF THE FLY.


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