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December 1, 2010

Movie Review: Brain Dead (2010)

Kevin Tenney, the man that gave us Night of the Demons (and produced the forthcoming remake) and Witchboard is back in the saddle with Breaking Glass Pictures' release of Brain Dead. The slapstick horror comedy genre has taken quite a bath in the past few years, making Brain Dead a hard sell, but if anyone dares to take a chance on it, they could be pleasantly surpised. Granted, the budget constraints are fairly obvious in this production, kind of making it seem like Slither without the cash, but Tenney is a master at stretching a dollar. Bolstered by a mostly-stellar cast, this particular vision of comedic gore is effective, funny and incredibly gross. It is a throwback to 80s horror and I, for one, am glad the wayback machine took me there.

Buy Brain Dead on DVD!

The limitations on this film are most noticeable in the distinct lack of locations. A majority of the piece takes place in a deserted, run-down fishing cabin where our hero, Clarence (Joshua Benton), our heroine, Sherry (Sarah Grant Brendecke) and a cast of misfits must battle evil alien brain slugs that turn people into raging, brain-hungry monsters. Playing kind of like the single location stage version of Night of the Creeps, Brain Dead tells the tale of wrongfully arrested Clarence, handcuffed to maniacal felon Bob (David Crane). They escape the police (including Jim Wynorski as the Sheriff in a rare acting role) and hole up in the fishing shack. Sherry, after a skinny dip with her lesbian sorority sister (Michelle Tomlinson), get lost in the woods and make it to the cabin as well. Finally, televangelist, and lecher, Reverend Farnsworth (Andy Forrest) and his beautiful assistant, with giant mammary glands, Amy Smoots (Cristina Tiberia) find their way to the supposedly 'middle of nowhere' cabin, too. This, my friends, is the menu for our parasitic alien slugs... and, boy, are they hungry.

One would be remiss without mentioning just how effective Gabriel Bartalos' special effects make-up was. Head rippings, black goo vomit, brain slugs and even a prosthetic vagina for birthing one of the aforementioned slugs looked great, for this particular film. It is a comedy, after all, so the effects work needed to be over the top... and it was. Combine that with David Gelineau's fine one-liner script and you've got yourself a spatter comedy!

Is it stupid? Yes. Will sensible people be revolted? Yes. Is it the second coming of Evil Dead? Not by a long shot. What Brain Dead is, though, is a fun little trek through a forest of gore filled with a bunch of characters that you just cannot wait to see butchered. Mel Brooks said, "Tragedy is me stubbing my toe. Comedy is you falling down a manhole and dying." Right on, Mel! Looks like Mr. Tenney was listening.

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