THE CRAWLING BRAIN (2002) released 2016.Blood Banquet Theatre.
$10.99. DVD. Color. Shot on Video. Available from
“Has he health insurance?”Behind the scenes photo
If Andy Milligan (GURU THE MAD MONK, Nova Int.,1970) made movies for Independent International that were produced by John Waters, it would give you an idea of the craziness that is THE CRAWLING BRAIN.
The term “camp” was made for films such as this. The film is a loving if inept tribute to classic b movie camp like THEY SAVED HITLER’S BRAIN (Paragon/Gold key ,1968), BRAIN OF BLOOD(I.I.,1971) MAD DOCTOR OF BLOOD ISLAND(Hemisphere,1968) and most obviously, FIEND WITHOUT A FACE (MGM,1958). Gore and nudity are sprinkled liberally throughout.
The story has Stefan (Randal Malone) finding out his grandmother is the former nurse/lover of Franz Kindler (the name of the Nazi from Orson Welles classic THE STRANGER(RKO,1946)), a mad Nazi scientist who has his spine and brain placed into a tank until a new body can be found for him.
(Young Anita Page Ziegfeld Follies;92 year Ms Page in this film)
The grandmother Anita is portrayed by then 92-year-old Anita Page, who starred in the first sound film to win an Academy Award for Best Picture, BROADWAY MELODY (MGM,1929). She passed away in 2008, her last film being released posthumously in 2010, FRANKENSTEIN RISING (Sterling), which also starred Malone.
The brain suddenly decides to take over Stefan, who manipulates his brother (Mark Shady) into helping him. Every once and awhile the brain crawls from its tank and takes things into its own-err— spinal column, and kills people itself.
People visit the house end up being used as experiments for surgery, until a new nurse named Jillian (Heather Beaton, EYES OF THE WEREWOLF, Leo Films,1996) arrives to care for Grandma. Jillian, it seems, looks exactly like Anita did when she was young (also played in flashback by Beaton) and it seems once the evil brain finds a new body for itself, Anita may have herself a new host body as well.
The whole film has a “Hey I got a camcorder, let’s make a movie” feel to it. Shot on video, the entire budget wouldn’t stretch to craft services for one meal on a T.V. show. That said, the film is unlike a lot of s.o.v. product at least competently put together, though the dialogue suffers at times from microphones being too far away.
Hey there IS a script!
Music (credited to Ronald Stein) sounds like it is mostly lifted from DEMENTIA 13(AIP,1963) with certain sounds effects taken directly from FIEND WITHOUT A FACE.
As to the “acting”, always a major bugaboo of mine in these s.o.v. films:
At the other end of the spectrum we have Stephanie Beaton, who never seemed to get a film that truly showcased her actual acting talent.
The effects are a fun throwback to the onset physical effects of the films that inspired them (at points reversing the film has the spinal column appear to wrap around its hapless victims).
(Because You’re Mine, I’ll steal your spine ….)
A well -staged car crash surprised me, although I was left wondering did they just do the stunt and leave?
(How dis-arming !)
Indeed, I wish there was a commentary track from those involved, to hear what it was like on set and their thoughts of the final product (and indeed, how they got Anita Page to be in their film).
Extras are limited to an alternate opening (full nudity as it stands now, topless nudity in the alternate, both supplied by actress Athena Demos) and an alternately edited flashback sequence (which I admit I saw no difference).
Also included is an over the top trailer that would have put people into their local drive ins had it been made in the 1970s. Finally, there are trailers for other films to be released by BLOOD BANQUET (including DEVILS’ NIGHTMARE(French,1971)).
Blood Banquet also sells a 3D version of MANIAC (Roadshow,1934), GRAVE OF THE VAMPIRE (Ent.Pyramid,1972), as well as other S.O.V. titles by Ron Ford.
Should you wish to see a modern-day exploitation film, leave your brain outside as you watch THE CRAWLING BRAIN.
–Kevin G Shinnick
(note:some photos courtesy BLOOD BANQUET,some Frame Grabs from the DVD).