The Direct to Video Connoisseur

I'm a huge fan of action, horror, sci-fi, and comedy, especially of the Direct to Video variety. In this blog I review some of my favorites and not so favorites, and encourage people to comment and add to the discussion. If you click on an image, it will take you to that post's image page, which includes many more pics from the film and other goodies I couldn't fit in the actual review. For announcements and updates, don't forget to Follow us on Twitter and Like our Facebook page. If you're the director, producer, distributor, etc. of a low-budget feature length film and you'd like to send me a copy to review, you can contact me at dtvconnoisseur[at] I'd love to check out what you got.



Hi everyone, it's been a while since I checked the page, and I wanted to make a few announcements.

First and foremost, it appears a dubious site has claimed the old url, meaning any link in any review that goes to the old mattmovieguy url is corrupt. I'm in the process of trying to remove them all, but it's a lot! It's best not to click on any link without hovering over it first to make sure it doesn't have mattmovieguy in the url.

Second, it appears since my last trip to the blog, Photobucket has decided to charge for third party hosting, meaning none of my images are appearing anymore. That's simply an aesthetic issue, but still annoying.

Thank you all for your patience, and again, hopefully this will all be fixed soon.


Friday, September 14, 2007

Brain Damage (1988)

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In high school a friend who was rather new to watching bad movies thought the whole thing was a novel idea, and he planned some big MST3K-like night for us to rent a bunch and make fun of them. The rest of us didn't have the heart to tell him we'd been doing the same thing for years before that, so we just went along for it. I mean, how can you pass up a night of bad movies, right? Well, anyway, another buddy, who like me, was something of a bad movie pro, picked out Bad Taste that night, and the rest was history. It became our favorite movie.

The problem was, the friend who hosted us was jealous that my buddy garnered so many accolades for Bad Taste, that he felt he needed to one up him. It's pretty silly, I know. He rented and showed us this film in his futile attempt at one-upsmanship.

Brain Damage is about a dude, played by a soap opera actor, living in an apartment with his brother. One night he's accosted by a parasite named Aylmer. Aylmer needs to eat brains, and he has the ability to shoot Cool Mint Listerine into the soap star's brain stem, which makes him high and gives him Predator vision. While high, he brings Aylmer into contact with humans, so Aylmer can eat their brains. His life spirals downwards as he becomes addicted to the Listerine, and his girlfriend starts doing his brother. Then the old couple who originally had Aylmer come for him, because they're going through withdrawals. The whole thing ends with the soap star getting too much cool mint Listerine to the head, causing it to burst open in a flash of light, much like the Adam Bomb Garbage Pail Kid.

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Needless to say, this was no Bad Taste, and that friend was slowly phased out of our bad movie watching sessions. Bad movie watching is about the camaraderie, not who can find the best flick. And when you try too hard to find the perfect bad film, you get Brain Damage, not Bad Taste. Like I always say, the key to finding a bad movie is to let the video store tell you what to buy; don't go in there expecting anything.

Watching Brain Damage many years later, I find that I was just put off by our friend's behavior, and in fact didn't give this thing a chance. It's actually not that bad. The Aylmer thing was pretty funny: he sounded kind of like Hanna-Barbera's Purple Hippo; I dug the Cool Mint Listerine everywhere: it made for great easy puns; and the scene where Aylmer jumps out of the soap star's fly to kill a potential fellator (is that a word? one who gives fellatio?) was memorbale to say the least. It wasn't anything great, but in a large group there was plenty to laugh at.

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Difficult to handle was the withdrawal sequence. As the soap star tries to remove himself from Aylmer's grasp, he goes cold turkey from the Listerine injections in the brain stem.
They live in what looks like a gas station bathroom for who knows how long, with the soap star in a wife beater and tighty whities, all stained and gross. Who thought this was a good idea? Brain eating, ears falling off, all that I can handle. But sweaty soap stars in stained undergarments is beyond my sensibilities.

For fans of bad horror, there's an homage to Basket Case in a subway scene. That's just what I want in my bad horror, allusions to other ones. It's like going to the dentist, and while you're suffering through that, he or she reminds you of the last visit and how painful that was. I felt a shudder move through me as the memory passed in my head of Basket Case, and my friends saw this and asked if I was OK.

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This isn't a bad deal if you've got a bunch of people over and want to rent something silly. We had a mixed group when we watched it recently, which included people who avoid movies like this like the plague. I found they were more laughing at the fact that we were watching it than actually enjoying the movie. It was like: "Those silly guys and gals, what're we gonna do with them?" For me that's a much better reaction than: "Eww, why do you guys watch stuff like this? That's disgusting, I'm out of here."

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