Brain That Wouldn’t Die, The (1962): Joseph Green’s Sci-Fi Horror

Joseph Green directed and co-wrote (with Rex Carlton) The Brain That Wouldn’t Die, a low-budget sci-fi horror feature, which is amateurish in both the positive and negative senses of the term. 

The Brain That Wouldn’t Die
Brainthatwouldntdie film poster.jpg

Theatrical release poster by Reynold Brown

The film was completed in 1959 under the working title The Black Door, but was not theatrically released until May 3, 1962, with a new title as part of  double feature with “Invasion of the Star Creatures.”

Premise: A mad doctor develops a means to keep human body parts alive. He keeps his fiancée’s severed head alive for days, and also keeps a lumbering, malformed brute imprisoned in a closet.

Photo: Virginia Leith as Jan Compton

It’s a variation on the theme of a mad doctor who discovers ways to keep a human head alive, seen in the 1925 silent “Professor Dowell’s Head.”

Dr. Bill Cortner (Jason Evers) saves a patient who had been pronounced dead, but the senior surgeon, Cortner’s father (Bruce Brighton), condemns his son’s unorthodox methods.

Driving to his family’s country house, Cortner and his fiancée Jan Compton (Virginia Leith), they get into a car accident that decapitates her. Cortner recovers her severed head and rushes to his country house lab. He and his crippled assistant Kurt (Anthony La Penna) revive the head in a liquid-filled tray. In agony, Jan begs Cortner to let her die, but he ignores her pleas.

Cortner hunts for a suitable body for Jan at nightclub, on the streets, and at a beauty contest. Meanwhile, Jan begins communicating telepathically with a hideous mutant.

When Kurt leaves the cell door unlocked, the monster tears off the arm of Kurt, who dies from his injuries.

Cortner lures model Doris Powell (Adele Lamont) to his house, promising to study her scarred face for plastic surgery. Jan protests Cortner’s plan to transplant her head onto Doris’s body.

Cortner fights with the monster, setting the laboratory ablaze. The monster (Eddie Carmel), a giant with a horribly deformed head, bites Cortner’s neck. Cortner dies, and the monster carries the unconscious Doris to safety.

The film is also known as “The Head That Wouldn’t Die” and “The Brain That Couldn’t Die.”

The monster in the closet was played by Eddie Carmel, a famous circus performer, known as “The Jewish Giant.”

 

Cast

Jason Evers as Dr. Bill Cortner
Virginia Leith as Jan Compton
Anthony La Penna as Kurt
Adele Lamont as Doris Powell
Bonnie Sharie as blonde stripper
Paula Maurice as brunette stripper
Marilyn Hanold as Peggy Howard
Bruce Brighton as Dr. Cortner
Arny Freeman as photographer
Fred Martin as medical assistant

Credits:

Directed by Joseph Green
Produced by Rex Carlton and Mort Landberg

Written by Rex Carlton and Joseph Green

Music by Abe Baker and Tony Restaino

Cinematography Stephen Hajnal
Edited by Leonard Anderson and Marc Anderson

Production company: Sterling Productions

Distributed by American International Pictures

Release date: May 3, 1962

Running time: 82 minutes
Budget about $60,000

Note:

TCM shows this movie every October, during their tribute to horror movies.