Wednesday, May 28, 2014

The Brain (Ed Hunt, 1988)

"If we kill the brain, everything should go back to normal." When Jim, the hunky protagonist in the aptly titled, The Brain, says this particular nugget of wisdom to his super-cute girlfriend, Janet, I thought: Yeah, that makes perfect sense, as the brain is the key to putting a stop to the weird events that are plaguing this more bland than usual corner of the GTA. Oh, and, yes, this film definitely takes place in Toronto. I know, there's an American flag in the school's library, but that's just there for show. This film sweats T.O. from its pores. But where exactly in Toronto, I wondered? Convinced that it was shot somewhere in the wilds of Scarborough, I readied myself to go on yet another award-winning rant about the east end hellscape. Then it dawned on me: What if it wasn't shot in Scarborough? The prospect that this might be case alarmed me. And since I didn't want to make a fool of  myself, I decided to do a little digging. As I was about to double-check, I became enraged. How can this film not be shot in Scarborough? I mean, the lead character attends Meadowvale High School. Seriously, I distinctly remember playing volleyball there (unlike my school, their gymnasium had high ceilings, meaning, your ball didn't get stuck in the rafters every time you bumped the ball). Well, I'm glad I checked, because this film, believe or not, was totally shot in Mississauga. That's right, it was filmed all the way on the other side of the city. In my defence, all suburbs in Toronto look the same.

It doesn't matter if The Brain was filmed Scarborough or Missassauga, my point still stands. What's that? I didn't make any points. I was too busy doing what? It says here I was debating whether or not the film was shot in Scarborough, Ontario, Canada. Wow, I'm sorry about that folks.

Anyway, the point I think I was about to make–you know, before I got sidetracked–involved questioning Jim's logic. It's true, if they do kill the brain, things would probably go back to normal. But I'd have to ask him: Why would you want things to go back to normal? Think about it, man. You're living in freakin' Missassauga! To make matters even worse, it's the middle of winter.

Then again, if things weren't "normal" you'd still be in Missassauga. I have to say, I make an excellent point. However, I'm missing one key ingredient. And that is, if things went back to normal, you can pretty much kiss the impromptu hallucinations that boast icy blonde lady scientists with frightfully precise nipples goodbye.

I don't care if we're forced to live in normal Missassauga or abnormal Missassauga, I want to see icy blonde lady scientists with frightfully precise nipples, and I want to see them now!

If I'm being sincere, and I usually am, it sounds like I'd be the perfect candidate to be brainwashed by "Independent Thinking," a television show hosted by Dr. Anthony Blake (David Gale). His last name, by the way, is Blake, not "Blakely," as it's listed in the credits. And it's pronounced Blake as in flake, not "Bah-lah-kay."

Having cleared that up, we can now move on to less blakey ground (you see what I did there? I replaced the word "shaky" with "blakey").

Don't you think showing "the brain" right from the get-go was a bit of a mistake? Personally, I would have at least waited until the ten minute mark. But you know what? I'm going to let film scholars debate whether showing the brain this early in the film was a mistake or not. You wanna know why? Because I have an icy blonde lady scientist with frightfully precise nipples to write about, that's why.

I'll get to the I.B.L.S.W.F.P.N. in just a second, I think I should first mention that Becky's mom really wants to her to watch the aforementioned Independent Thinking. However, it's obvious that Becky (Susannah Hoffmann) would rather hang out in her room. Suddenly, these large tentacles burst through her bedroom walls and start grabbing at her. Is this the brain's way of punishing Becky for not watching Independent Thinking? Who knows.

Actually, I do know. You see, the brain is a large brain-like creature that Dr. Blake keeps in a vat of green goo backstage. And this large brain-like creature is hooked up to a satellite dish outside the studio, which is really the Psychological Research Institute (major kudos to the filmmakers for the building they found to act as the P.R.I., as it has a real otherworldly vibe about it).

Nevertheless, both Becky and her mother are dead. Passing their house as their bodies are being hauled away is Jim Majelewski (Tom Bresnahan), a good student, but a bit of a troublemaker. (Maybe he wouldn't such a troublemaker if his girlfriend would just let him penetrate her vagina with his penis.) Look, when Janet (Cynthia Preston) says she wants to wait until college, she means it. So stop trying to guilt her into having sex with you just because you can't seem to control your ability to act out in an anti-social manner.

After being caught dumping sodium in one of the school's toilets, the principal of Meadowvale High School, Mr. Woods (Kenneth McGregor), and Ms. Chisolm (Vinetta Strombergs), the school's resident VCR expert, suggest that Jim go see Dr. Blake at the P.R.I. for counseling. (The very same Dr. Blake who is secretly trying take over the world via the large brain-like creature he keeps in a vat of green goo backstage at his cheesy day time television show?) Ding, ding, ding! We have a wiener.

Reluctantly agreeing to see Dr. Blake... (Reluctant my ass, he was told he had to go or else he would be suspended.) Okay, fine. Forced to see Dr. Blake, Jim waits in one of the P.R.I.'s examination rooms.

Entering the examination room legs first, Vivian (Christine Kossak), who is wearing a mini-lab coat and a dark pencil skirt, greets Jim with an icy smile. (Did you just say, "icy smile"?) Yeah, so? (Just checking. Please, do continue.) Unable to concentrate on what she's saying, Jim focuses the bulk of his attention on her legs, which are on full display; thanks to her dark pencil skirt and the mini-nature of her lab coat.

(You how you described Vivian as an "icy blonde lady scientist with frightfully precise nipples?) Yep. (Are you sure they're frightfully precise? I mean, if you ask me, they look kinda imprecise.) While her nipples aren't exactly precise, they are the best thing about this movie. Not to toot my own, but I think that's one of the sanest things I've ever said.

In what's becoming an annoying trend... (Aren't you going to explain how Vivian's frightfully precise/imprecise nipples move the plot of The Brain forward?) Oh, sorry about that. Yeah, after attaching some sticking pads to his forehead, Vivian leaves the exam room and Dr. Blake proceeds to ask Jim some questions.

On a monitor in the exam room, Jim sees Vivian holding an apple. But in reality, she's holding a baseball. The fact Jim doesn't see what Dr. Blake wants him to see upsets him greatly. Things get even more out of hand when Jim imagines Vivian topless. Standing there holding an apple aloft, her frightfully precise/imprecise nipples glowing like pinkish diamonds, Vivian begins to entice Jim with saucy, come-hither language. Of course, Dr. Blake can't see or hear any of this, so he puts a stop to the experiment and sends Jim home.

Just when I thought I had seen the last of Vivian and her frightfully precise/imprecise nipples, she shows up during the climatic P.R.I. boiler room finale. And, yes, she is topless when she appears to Jim.

When I went to check Christine Kossak's filmography, I was shocked to discover that she has only appeared in three movies. Outrageous!

On the opposite end of the spectrum, The Brain is my third Cynthia Preston movie (the other two being Pin and Prom Night III: The Last Kiss). At any rate, I think we can safely declare Cynthia to be a genuine "scream queen." Sure, she never appears nude onscreen, but she knows how to scream and is usually the last one standing before the end credits start to role. Oh, and she seems to excel at playing the girlfriends or siblings of troubled teens.

As expected, Jim becomes a thorn in the side of Dr. Blake, his hirsute henchmen Verna (George Buza) and the brain itself. This thorniness leads to the film--which, at times, seems to be channeling Invasion of the Body Snatchers and Videodrome--to becoming a bit of a chase movie, as Jim tries to prevent Dr. Blake and the brain from brainwashing not only Missassauga but the entire nation (his television show is about to be broadcast nationally). The hallucinatory bits were my favourite part of the movie. And, no, not just because they would occasionally feature Christine Kossak's frightfully precise/imprecise nipples. Wait a minute, what am I saying? That's explicitly why they were my favourite bits. The film's many chase scenes, on the other hand, were tedious and a bit of chore to sit through. So, to sum things up: Icy blonde lady scientists with frightfully precise/imprecise nipples. Yay! Dull, protracted chase scenes across the insipid Missassauga landscape. Nay!


  1. Few things to ponder:
    1.) Why can't they just call it Canada?
    I am pretty sure of my guess that most movies are shot in either Toronto or Vancouver. So why not let them be set in TO and VA, as opposed to labeling them NYC and LA? Does it make a difference to the movie going public?
    Because you refuse to meet me, and I have nothing to do I walk down the streets of Toronto where they shot movies(of the 75-95 era, my fav). Every shot of Cronenberg's The Fly(1986) was shot here, and yet they go out of their way in making sure no one glimpses the CN tower.

    Now that I live in this wasteland called Scarborough, I am checking this film out.
    Oh, and I found out you're a femme!

    1. Americans don't like "foreign cinema."

      The TV show Orphan Black pretends to take place in Minnesota... but they keep mentioning that Alison (the soccer mom clone) lives in Scarborough.

      You should drop by Eyesore Cinema, if you haven't already, all the movies I write about on here are procured there.

  2. Will I meet you if I drop by?
    I know I can see all the films you write about but what's the point if I can't share my thoughts with another being?
    I travel daily on the TTC and I see lonely people wearing suits and being self indulgent. I've had enough of it for one lifetime.

    I saw three films back to back:
    Desperately Seeking Susan
    My Boyfriend's Back.

    and realized you've reviewed all of them.
    Don't post this on your blog if you don't want to, but I'd like to meet you. Spend time with you, go to a jazz club with you....and make a movie shot on film with you. I think we are all lonely and sad and these films take us to a fairy land....our disney world.
    I want to see you.

    1. I'm not comfortable with the whole meeting in person thing. Sorry. :(