Brain Damage

braindamagedvdscanA lamprey symbiont attaches itself to the cerebrospinal fluid of a host, injecting him with psychedelic visions. If THAT premise doesn’t get your juices flowing, you won’t care for the impudent, weirdly compelling little movie, Brain Damage.

The follow up to Basket Case, Frank Henenlotter, on a bigger budget and a bigger, better idea, tops his previous effort. And that’s saying something. Basket Case is an undeniable gem, even if the creature’s obviously operated by hand puppet.

In Brain Damage, “Alymer” is hungry, and has escaped his owners’ seedy Bronx apartment unit and taken up residence at the abode of one Brian (Rick Hearst). The creature, a kind of tubular geoduck/rotten ice-cream cone with teeth, affixes itself to his neck, giving him unbelievable highs.

Under the influence, Brian heads over to the local scrapyard to take in the spectacular drug-induced auras, the night sky and rusty wrecks lit up with his visions. But it’s there, the creature’s lust for human brains takes hold, sucking the cerebrum out of the facility’s hapless security guard.

Brian, it turns out, has made a Faustian pact with Aylmer: in exchange for psychedelic highs, he’s the courier that gets the monster into closer proximity with human victims.

And it’s bad enough the juice is taking its toll. An allegory for heroin withdrawal, Brian gets desensitized to the infusions and his relationships (including that with girlfriend Barbara) suffer for it. But it’s the heavy moral toll of his nightly excursions that’s dragging him down, an accomplice to a creature that while lovable, has an appetite for human flesh.

It’s this appetite that provides Brain Damage with some incredible kills.

In a pharmaceutical fog, Brian steps out into a punk club, suited up like a Wall Street salary man, and meets up with a lady who’s good to go. They step outside, she unbuttons his pants, goes down and Aylmer goes to town in one of the most audacious and disgusting scenes in all of horror.

Gonzo, go-get-’em horror and a near-classic.

***3/4 (out of 5)

[For those who are interested, check out our BRAIN DAMAGE podcast discussion on the Really Awful Movies Podcast]

Bunny the Killer Thing

Foreign horrors often benefit from cultural unfamiliarity. Bunny the Killer Thing (2015) is one such film. Not that it’s unwatchable by any means, but it carries with it a kind of societal advantage of not being set on these shores, upping the interest level that might not otherwise have been there.

A raunchy Finnish horror/comedy (with English and Finnish breezily interspersed), Bunny the Killer Things brings the fun + gore, while suffering from laughs lost in translation. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t an interesting viewing exercise, if only to get a better understanding of Finnish culture — one that’s more holistic than you might glean from watching an NHL game.

Tuomas, a pant-pissing hipster whose face is bisected by a very punchable mustache, has a rich uncle who’s offered him use of his fancy cabin in the woods. Yes, this is a cabin in the woods movie, replete with the trappings of Finnish culture (it’s got saunas, and clear spirits are the go-to beverage choice).

En route to their wintry getaway, Tuomas and friends come across a car that’s broken down, driven by three, somewhat seedy Brits…however it’s not one of THOSE kinds of movies.

Back in town, a mad scientist has injected an unwilling patient with a serum, and he’s busted loose from his confines possessing….not er, superhuman strength but large furry rabbit physicality (while retaining some parts of his human anatomy intact, for some, shall we say “interesting” POV shots).

This hare/humanoid thing escapes into the dark woods, then goes after the Finns, as well as their newfound British compatriots, and they have to band together to tackle the sicko bunny.

This sounds like a pretty straight-up creature feature, but this is bawdy stuff. And even if this is Nordic, the tone is really all over the map.

The leads are dynamite though, particularly Jari Manninen as Mise, an N-bomb dropping bigot who soon becomes fast drinking friends with Nigerian-Brit Tim (Orwi Manny Ameh).  Their relationship is sweetly unexpected. The female leads are great too, including Veera W. Vilo as the conniving Nina, and her unrequited love interest Sara (Enni Ojutkangas).

Park your brain in neutral and go with it.

*** (out of 5)

[For those who are interested, on Episode 38 of the Really Awful Movies Podcast, we chat about the killer bunny feature, Night of the Lepus]