With “The Brain That Wouldn’t Die”, no discussion would be complete without a concession to the fertile soil that is exploitation cinema, to which this film is a classical example, especially as filtered through the then popular (but still emerging) sub-genre of the cheaply made Grade Z drive-in horror film of which such radical “minor” distributors such as American International Pictures and Allied Artists were primary examples, with releases such as “I Was a Teenage Werewolf”” and “Attack of the 50 Foot Woman” typical examples of seemingly cloddish productions that contained surprisingly diverse subtexts. Films of this low bred variety often dealt frankly with the subjects of sex and gender dynamics- less openly explored at the time due to Production Code restrictiveness -though more often than not the rather blatant subtexts were either overlooked or dismissed by their encasement within films that were both dubiously considered as genre trash or for the fact that though the films may have contained interesting thematic elements, aesthetically they were of zero interest using any legitimate critical rationale. Such is the case with “The Brain That Wouldn’t Die”, whose narrative follows the standard mad scientist genre formula while spiking the mix with generous portions of seriously gratuitous bloodshed (prior to Hershell Gordon Lewis’ perverse output and rather shocking even in its black and white depiction) that called for extreme censorial cuts, as well as healthy portions of salacious cheesecake sexuality that offers no genuine contribution to the storyline except to distract from the primary horror film tropes while substituting rather sleazy though pathetically rendered views of hoochie coochie dancers and men’s “photography clubs”. Ironically, it is these salacious distractions which contribute to the film’s more interesting non-horror themes concerning modern sexual politics.
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