The Brain that Wouldn't Die (February 15, 1962)
Released on February 15, 1962: A doctor keeps his girlfriend's head alive after she was beheaded in a car crash, and searches for a new body for her.
Directed by Joseph Green
Written by Rex Carlton and Joseph Green.
The Actors: Jason Evers - listed as Herb Evers in the credits (Dr. Bill Cortner), Virginia Leith (Jan Compton), Leslie Daniels (Kurt), Adele Lamont (Doris Powell), Bonnie Sharie (blonde stripper), Paula Maurice (brunette stripper), Marilyn Hanold (Peggy Howard), Bruce Brighton (Dr. Cortner), Amy Freeman (photographer), Fred Martin (medical assistant), Lola Mason (Donna Williams), Doris Brent (nurse), Bruce Kerr (beauty contest emcee), Audrey Devereal (Jeannie Reynolds), Eddie Carmel (the monster), Sammy Petrillo (Art)
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If you watch this old movie with twenty-first century eyes, it may look very foolish and silly, but think about 1962 people. Just a few years earlier the first artificial heart was emplanted in a dog, and it survived for 90 minutes. Doctors all over the world were experimenting with transplanting kidneys, livers, hearts, and more, and they foretold of a day when almost any human body part that went bad could be replaced with a new one. There was great debate over whether man should attempt to replace and renew what God had given us. Would transplanting human parts become commonplace in extending our lives, or would it lead to demonic and evil unintended consequenses? This movie investigates the possibilities, and concludes that only monstrous things can happen when men fool around with God's creations. I'm sure that most people that watched this one came out of the theater with a lot of fears about medical advances, but in reality, it is only a mad-scientist murder thriller, of the ilk of Frankenstein, dressed in 1962 science.
Our movie opens in an operating room where father and son surgeons are working on a patient on the operating table. When the patient dies, the father sadly accepts that he lost the fight to save the man. Bill Cortner, the son, takes over then and 'miraculously' brings the man back to life. It seems that the son has been experimenting with life and death, and has been stealing body parts from the hospital morgue to experiment with at the family lodge in the mountains. With various parts from dead bodies, he has discovered a serum that can allow the various body parts to be sewn together and a complete human body that lives is created. But this 'thing,' cobbled together from different body parts starts to evolve in some evil way, and the doctor's assistant, who is in the country place helping with the experiments calls Bill and tells him that he must come quickly to the country home because something is very wrong. Bill and his lovely fiance get into Bill's new 1962 convertible and race off to the mountain home to see what is up. As Bill is racing faster and faster, he misses a stop sign, and then at a sharp bend in the road there is a horrible accident, and Bill is thrown free from the car, but when he staggers back to the car he finds his girlfriend decaptiated, and quickly wraps her head in his suit coat and takes it to his country home, where he and his assistant put in in a pan on the table and hook up wires to it, and provide a steady flow of his miracle serum to the pan that her head is sitting in. Her head comes to life, and she wants to die, and wants revenge on her fiance Bill for bringing her back to life.
Meanwhile, Bill is off in search of a beautuful female body to bring back to the country home and transplant his girlfriend's head onto. He finally finds the right girl, and brings her to the laboratory in the basement, and prepares the operation. But there is a 'thing' locked in the closet. Bill's girlfriend's head has been communicating with this 'thing' and they plan to get revenge on Bill for creating them. Everything comes to a head, er, so to speak, as Bill prepares the girl he kidnapped for the operation to take off her head and replace it with the head fo his girlfriend. What evil will happen as Bill starts to operate? Will the thing in the closet get loose to help his girlfriend's head get revenge on Dr. Bill? Will the head in the pan live on when sewed to the body of another? Will the thing in the closet find a new life with the head in the pan? Will you toss your popcorn at the sight of the black and white 'gore' that has become all the rage in movies in 1962? In the older movies, we never saw the blood and guts of the dying, but in 1962 it has become popular to add extra 'shock' to the story by depicting gore, although by today's standards, it isn't really very scary or realistic. But this is the state of the art in Science Fiction Horror in 1962, and it succeeded in scaring the bee-jeebers out of most of the movie fans of the day. Pop a big bowl of white kernel popcorn with plenty of warm melted butter drizzled over it and enjoy the show.