Brain Dead (1990) Movie Review
Written By: Angela DiLella
Edited By: Grave Reviews Staff
Director: Adam Simon
Producers: Julie Corman and Lynn Whitney
Writers: Charles Beaumont and Adam Simon
Date Released: January 19, 1990
Bill Pullman as Doctor Rex Martin
Bill Paxton as Jim Reston
Bud Cort as John Halsey
Rating = 1/5 Graves
***May contain some spoilers***
A neurosurgeon, Rex Martin (Bill Pullman) is tasked with studying and operating on John Halsey (Bud Cort), a man suffering from acute paranoia and possibly psychosis whose perception of reality seems to be catching…
There are quite a few exposed brains as would be the case in any film revolving around surgery. However, there is nothing else that may be considered grotesque or shocking.
The Grave Review
This movie begins with a vague reason to dive into a mental health patient’s mind, and his visions and fears seem to infect the mind of his surgeon, Rex Martin (Bill Pullman). Martin’s world begins unraveling and reality grows extremely tenuous. At its worst, Martin and John Halsey (Bud Cort), the mental patient, seem to have switched places. Once it gets to that point, the movie becomes interesting, but until then, the story drags, as the rapid switches in reality make it difficult to care enough to remain invested in whatever is meant to be going on.
This movie has a mixed level of quality in its cast. Much of it are known actors that have performed well elsewhere but seem muted here. Bud Cort does an uncomfortably convincing job as an asylum patient and his role is the most interesting character when reality starts crumbling into the world his character knows. Both Bill Paxton and Bill Pullman, who are both excellent actors in their own right are somewhat overseen and their role in this film just are not enough to make this a quality production. Tertiary and ensemble characters tend to be poorer actors.
Brain Dead turned out to be a huge letdown, unfortunately. When I noticed that one of the screenwriters was Charles Beaumont, arguably best known for his work on the original Twilight Zone (1959-1964), I thought I would be in for a treat. The original script was one of his old, rejected movie scripts, which was then dusted off and updated, and while an interesting concept, the slipping reality and intersection of reality and dreams had been done better before and since, inside and outside of horror movies. Characters are not well fleshed out and the dream logic is so heavy that it’s difficult to become or stay invested in anything that’s happening onscreen and, unbelievably, it becomes rather boring for most of its run. The last twenty minutes perk up a little bit, and the final twist isn’t half-bad (neither is some of the foreshadowing), but it’s not worth sitting through the entire movie to get there.
For the foregoing reasons, Grave Reviews gives Brain Dead (1990) one grave out of five graves.
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