The Brain That Wouldn't Die

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
  (Redirected from The Brain that Wouldn't Die)
Jump to: navigation, search
This article is about the film. For the song by the Tall Dwarfs, see Slugbucket Hairybreath Monster.
The Brain That Wouldn't Die
Brainthatwouldntdie film poster.jpg
Directed by Joseph Green
Produced by Rex Carlton
Mort Landberg
Written by Rex Carlton
Joseph Green
Starring Jason Evers
Virginia Leith
Eddie Carmel
Music by Abe Baker
Tony Restaino
Cinematography Stephen Hajnal
Edited by Leonard Anderson
Marc Anderson
Sterling Productions
Distributed by American International Pictures (US theatrical)
Warner & MGM (video)
Release date(s) 3 May 1962 on a double bill with "Invasion of the Star Creatures"
Running time 82 minutes
70 minutes (video)
Country United States
Language English
Budget $62,000 (estimated)

The Brain That Wouldn't Die, also known as The Head That Wouldn't Die, is a 1959 science-fiction/horror film directed by Joseph Green and written by Green and Rex Carlton.[1] The film was completed in 1959 under the title The Black Door but was not released until May 3, 1962, when it was renamed.[citation needed] The main plot focuses upon a mad doctor who develops a means to keep human body parts alive. He must eventually use his discovery on someone close to him, and chaos ensues.


Dr. Bill Cortner (Jason Evers) is a successful surgeon who has just saved a patient pronounced dead in the emergency room — a patient of his father's (Bruce Brighton) — with an unorthodox surgical method. After the younger Cortner and his beautiful fiancée Jan Compton (Virginia Leith) are involved in a fiery car accident that decapitates Jan, Cortner collects her severed head and rushes it to his home basement laboratory, where he revives it and manages to keep it alive in a liquid-filled tray.

Cortner now decides to commit murder to obtain an attractive new body to attach to his fiancée's head. As he hunts for a suitable specimen at a burlesque bar that night and on the street the next day, Jan begins to hatch a murderous plan. Filled with hatred for Cortner because he won't let her die, she communicates telepathically with a hideous mutant in the laboratory cell, telling it to kill the scientist.

The mutant monster begins by mortally wounding the doctor's assistant, Kurt; after feeding the monster and doing some general cleanup around the laboratory, he unwittingly stands before the hatch in the door of the monster's cell (which he left unlocked), whereupon the monster thrusts his giant arm through and tears the assistant's arm off.

In the meantime, Cortner brings figure model Doris Powell to his residence under the pretense of studying her scarred face for a promised plastic surgery operation, and, drugging her drink so that she loses consciousness, carries her down to the laboratory. Jan protests when Cortner explains his plan to transplant her head onto this new body, and he summarily tapes her mouth shut.

Dr. Cortner then stands in front of the door to the monster's cell, with the hatch again left open. This time, the monster grabs the scientist through the door and, securing him in a headlock, applies such force that the door is torn from its hinges. The monster is finally revealed as a seven-foot giant with a horribly deformed head, presumably the result of various failed transplants and/or other surgeries, and subsequently bites a chunk of flesh out of Cortner's neck. In the process, the laboratory is set ablaze; Cortner lies dead on the floor and the monster carries the unconscious Doris away to safety. As the lab goes up in flames, Jan is heard saying "I told you to let me die" followed by a maniacal cackle.[2]


Production notes[edit]

The film was shot independently in 1959 under the title The Head That Wouldn't Die.[3] Some prints of the film use both the opening title The Brain That Wouldn't Die and the closing title The Head That Wouldn't Die.

The monster in the closet is played by Eddie Carmel in his first "cinematic role". Carmel was a well-known Israeli-born circus performer who worked under the name "The Jewish Giant". He is the subject of a photograph by Diane Arbus entitled "The Jewish Giant at Home with His Parents in the Bronx, NY, 1970".[4]


The movie was picked up for release by AIP and released in 1962 on a double bill with Invasion of the Star Creatures. AIP cut it for theatrical release.[3]

Home media[edit]

An uncut, 35mm print was used in the Special Edition release by Synapse Films in 2002. Running 85 minutes, this version features more of the stripper catfight, as well as some extra gore.

The Mystery Science Theater 3000 version of the film (along with the uncut version, included as a bonus feature) was released by Rhino Home Video. On November 26, 2013, Shout! Factory is re-releasing the MST3K version of the film as a bonus feature part of their 25th Anniversary DVD boxed set. The Cinema Insomnia version was released on DVD by Apprehensive Films.[5] This film was the first movie watched by Mike Nelson in Mystery Science Theater 3000 (episode 513). Jan in the Pan is the irreverent nickname given to the female lead by the characters on the show.

Syndicated television[edit]

The film was featured on the nationally syndicated horror host televisions Cinema Insomnia.[6] The host segments revolved around the horror host Mr. Lobo finding a suitable flower pot for his co-host and houseplant Miss Mittens.[7]


The movie first became a stage musical in October 2009 with The Brain That Wouldn't Die: A New Musical, produced at the Overtime Theater in San Antonio, Texas. The world premiere musical comedy was a collaboration between composer Phillip Luna and writer/lyricist Jon Gillespie. The show attracted sold-out audiences during its five-week run.[citation needed]

The movie also the inspired the musical stage production, The Brain That Wouldn't Die! In 3D!!! by T Sivak and E Gelman, that premiered at the New York Musical Theatre Festival in October 2011.[8]


The score, titled "The Web", was composed by Abe Baker and Tony Restaino and is noted for creating a sinister mood. Of particular interest is the extended haunting bolero that accompanies the scene where the doctor's assistant has his arm torn off by the mutant creature from the closet.

In popular culture[edit]

  • In the 2002 video game No One Lives Forever 2: A Spy In H.A.R.M.'s Way, two guards turned into "man crates" are having a conversation. One of them quotes the movie's most famous line ("Like all quantities, horror has its ultimate, and I am that!"), and the other recognizes it and adds, "I never thought I would ever relate to Jan in the Pan."
  • In the MTV series Scream Queens,[episode needed] the aspiring horror actresses re-enact the scene in which Jan voices her hatred for the doctor as part of a challenge.
  • On November 9, 2010, the band Black Cards released a music video for their song "Club Called Heaven" based on this film.[9]
  • The scene where the scientist is attacked by the monster appears during the Film Dub game on the American version of the British comedy show Whose Line Is It Anyway?,[episode needed] featuring participants Greg Proops dubbing for the assistant, Ryan Stiles dubbing for Jan and Colin Mochrie dubbing for the monster, yelling the notable line "Buy an encyclopedia!!"

See also[edit]


Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]