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THE VAULT ISSUE 19: BRAIN DAMAGE

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BRAIN DAMAGE /1988/ d: Frank Henenlotter


Frank Henenlotter’s magnificent opus about a boy and his parasite. You see, Aylmer is a brain-eating worm that is like a cross between a purple eel and a piece of doody with the personality of The Great Gazoo. Brian is an everyday kind of guy who was just minding his own business. When the two meet, it’s the ultimate in co-dependency with horrifying and hilarious results! In exchange for Brian helping Aylmer find victims, Aylmer pumps Brian full of a mind-altering and highly addictive drug not unlike a cocktail of LSD and Ecstasy. And who can say no to drugs from a brain parasite? Brian happily trips through his new hallucenogenic world for a while but eventually becomes a fiend for the slug juice and can't cope with the guilt of Aylmer’s shenanigans.

What we have here is a wonder of independent horror film making. A bizarre, psychedelic story that's every bit as grotesque and beautiful as the city it was crafted in. It's no surprise that BRAIN DAMAGE, much like all of Henenlotter’s films, oozes with 100% honest-to-God New York City attitude, something you can’t really appreciate unless you’ve spent time here. One can almost smell the stale beer of the nightclubs, the urine of the gutter, and the simultaneously repulsive and enticing odor of that Chinese takeout place with the ducks hanging in the window. Henenlotter shows his city and the people in it to be as every bit unusual as the story he's telling; a place where even the most out of place seems commonplace. I think that's one of the reasons why I hold BRAIN DAMAGE (and Henenlotter himself) in such high regard.

There are few films in the Vault that one must simply stop everything and go add to their collection, and BRAIN DAMAGE is definitely in the top ten percentile of that very short list.



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