VHS Review: Brain Damage

This girl is a huge Frank Henenlotter fan and Brain Damage is my favorite of his films. I love this movie so much, I sent Frank a precious drawing of Aylmer and he added it to his website. There are a batch of films from the 80s that are said to be some of the ‘gayest’ films of all time. Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge being number one on that list. I think you can file Brain Damage on that list as well. My gaydar was going off the scale with this flick. For starters, the masculine brothers are always wearing tight man panties. You’ll see more male nudity than female nudity. There are no present gay characters but I have my suspicions. Aylmer slightly resembles a penis and in some aspects even acts like one. He finds himself getting caught up in sexual activity. The lead character, Brian,  gets penetrated from behind (yes) in his neck and enjoys the drug like orgasm. The AIDS hysteria was around during this point in time but there is no explicit message. The gayness isn’t a part of the story at all. Just wanted to point out the subtext. The balance of carnage and humor is rare and entertaining. It’s so imaginative and Frank Henenlotter pulled it off beautifully.

So Brain Damage is basically about an average dude living in New York City that becomes dependent on an evil, blue-veined penile parasite ‘thing’ named Aylmer. Aylmer feeds this kid Brian a substance that sends him to a state of euphoria in exchange for brains of innocent victims in the city. Brian becomes an addict. Like many of the addicts in New York, he frequents the back alleys of night clubs, toilet cubicles to feed his habit, and public showers. You get an abundance of wonderful 1980s underground New York City clubs and locations! It’s heavenly. After Brian sees the horrible wrongdoings of the blue veined phallus he wants out for good. However, it’s hard to resist that wonderful blue juice injected into his spinal cortex that keeps his health from rapidly declining. Aylmer also SINGS! That’s enough to drive a man crazy. It’s like, instead of having a monkey on his back, he has this penis parasite instead. Well, it’s actually a brain.

My favorite scene would have to be when the lady goes to suck Brian off in the alley and Aylmer jumps out of his crotchal region to suck her brains out. This is a very graphic scene. The dinner scene where he sees tiny brains instead of meatballs over his pasta was quite a riot and it looked pretty delicious. The movie features a lot of killing scenes that are funny, but still quite gory. It’s all accomplished with humor and spectacular effects. All of the death scenes are sick, twisted, and hilarious. As for the ending, it’s priceless. Drug addiction is a dead end path for those who decide to venture. I feel this whole film’s message is about drug addiction and the downward spiral portrayed against the backdrop of Manhattan. The acting is pleasing enough for an 80s horror comedy. The actors didn’t have much of a career but the director Frank Henenlotter will remain a favorite for horror fans. Brain Damage is a gem. Basket Case is a gem and Frankenhooker is a gem.

Some interesting facts: Two minutes were cut from the film to keep it from gaining an X-Rating. This is thanks to the infamous fellatio scene in the alley. During that fellatio scene the crew walked out of the production refusing to work on the scene. A similar incident happened during the shooting of ‘Basket Case’ You can see the full uncut version on dvd. We get a cameo appearance from the lead character in Basketcase, carrying his basket on a subway train. It was listed in Fangoria’s 100 must see Horror films and It’s banned in Iceland.