Saturday, April 30, 2011

2011 Summer Movie Preview

Source: Screen Rant

The summer movie season is upon us yet again, and despite the somewhat lackluster theater going experiences of the last few years (with some notable exceptions, of course) 2011 promises to kick off a bright and promising future for fans of the superhero and sci-fi genres in particular.

Flicks like Thor, X-Men: First Class, Green Lantern and Captain America will keep our weekends full of excitement as we try to determine of the winner of this summer’s Superhero showdown. However, even with that whirlwind competition going on, the summer’s greatest event may in fact be the culmination of a decade-long cinematic journey with Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2. If you haven’t seen the first trailer for that film yet… prepare to get goosebumps. Sci-fi fans will be kept busy as well, thanks to films like Transformers: Dark of the Moon and Jon Favreau’s genre mashup Cowboys & Aliens.

In fact, the more I think about it the more I realize that there is a lot to get goose fleshed about this year in terms of movies – whether they’re the good kind of goose bumps or the bad kind will depend on the viewer.

What I do know is that even if you’re not a comic book, sci-fi or fantasy movie fan, summer 2011 still offers plenty of promising looking films. Action fans will get their motors running with films like Fast Five or Conan The Barbarian; comedy fans of both genders will get two ways to laugh at the idea of matrimony thanks to The Hangover Part II and Bridesmaids, respectively.

You can check out the list of summer films month by month by clicking any of the links below, or click “View All” at the bottom of the page to get a picture of the 2011 Summer Movie Season in its entirety. Being that we are an editorial site, we’ve included our impression about each film along with each movie’s synopsis.

Fast Five - April 29th

Fast Five Review

Synopsis: Dominic (Vin Diesel) and his crew find themselves on the wrong side of the law once again as they try to switch lanes between a ruthless drug lord and a relentless federal agent (Dwayne Johnson). Paul Walker, Jordana Brewster, Tyrese Gibson and Ludacris co-star.

Our Take: Summer officially beings in April this year, and Fast Five looks to certainly kick things off in high gear (check out our review of Fast Five). By now you should know if you’re a fan of the franchise or not – but even if Fast and the Furious hasn’t been your cup of tea until now, you should know that the franchise is officially making the jump from street racing to general action. Take that how you will.

Thor - May 6th

first reviews of Thor emerge online

Synopsis: The powerful but arrogant warrior Thor (Chris Hemsworth) is cast out of the fantastic realm of Asgard and sent to live amongst humans on Earth, where he soon becomes one of their finest defenders. Natalie Portman, Anthony Hopkins, Tom Hiddleston, Clark Gregg, Rene Russo, Jamie Alexander, Stellan Skarsgård, Kat Dennings, Idris Elba, Ray Stevenson, and Colm Feore all co-star.

Our Take: From what we’ve seen, Thor looks to be another solid (maybe great) release from Marvel Studios. Early reviews claim the movie is close to Iron Man in terms of its balance of action and humor, featuring some standout performances by lead actors Chris Hemsworth and Tom Hiddleston (as Thor and Loki, respectively).

Something Borrowed - May 6th

Something Borrowed new image1

Synopsis: Friendships are tested and secrets come to the surface when terminally single Rachel (Ginnifer Goodwin) falls for Dex (Colin Egglesfield), her best friend Darcy’s (Kate Hudson) fiancé. Based on the bestselling non-fiction book.

Our Take: The book has a lot of fans, but as far as the movie goes, Something Borrowed looks like your standard Kate Hudson rom-com to us.

Bridesmaids - May 13th

Bridesmaids movie cast

Synopsis: Two women (Kristen Wiig, Rose Byrne) compete to plan their friend’s wedding party. Jon Hamm, Ellie Kemper, Melissa McCarthy, Wendi McLendon-Covey and Maya Rudolph co-star.

Out Take: Comparisons to The Hangover are inevitable, but we have a sneaking suspicion that Bridesmaids could end up being the sleeper comedy hit of Summer 2011.

Priest - May 13th

Priest movie trailer Paul Bettany

Synopsis: In a dystopian future, a warrior priest (Paul Bettany) disobeys church law to track down the vampires who kidnapped his niece. Karl Urban, Maggie Q and Christopher Plummer co-star.

Our Take: This movie has been sitting on the shelf for over a year, which means that the finished product is likely not all that great. The fact that the film was directed by the guy who did Legion doesn’t inspire a whole lot of confidence  either.

Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides - May 20th

Pirates of the Caribbean On Stranger Tides movie image

Synopsis: Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) and Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush) embark on a quest to find the elusive fountain of youth, only to discover that Blackbeard (Ian McShane) and his daughter (Penélope Cruz) are after it too.

Our Take: Director Rob Marshall (Chicago) is said to have done a good job taking the Pirates of the Caribbean back to what originally made it great: a focused standalone story mixing action and adventure, with comedic hijinks provided by Depp’s Captain Jack Sparrow. If that assessment is true, than On Stranger Tides will be a welcome addition to the summer movie season.

The Hangover Part II - May 26th


Synopsis: Through a series of fantastic (and funny) events, the boys from The Hangoverfind themselves once again waking up from a blackout night of partying – this time in exotic locale of Thailand. Hilarity once again ensues.

Our Take: The first trailer painted The Hangover 2 as a basic rehash of its predecessor, only with slightly tweaked jokes and a new setting for the raunchy humor. Only question is: is there enough water left in this well to make audiences laugh out loud again?

Kung Fu Panda 2 - May 27th

Po and the Furious Five in Kung Fu Panda 2

Synopsis: Po (voice of Jack Black) joins forces with a group of new Kung Fu masters to take on an old enemy with a deadly new weapon. Angelina Jolie, Seth Rogen, Dustin Hoffman, Lucy Liu, Jackie Chan, David Cross, James Woods, Jean-Cluade Van Damme, Victor Garber, James Hong, and Michelle Yeoh all lend their voices.

Our Take: The original Kung Fu Panda was an unexpected (and very pleasant) surprise from DreamWorks Animation. The sequel is facing the same challenge as The Hangover 2 (being a rehash of the original), but factors like Charlie Kaufman working on the script and some truly epic action featured in the trailer, make KFP2 one of the more intriguing releases of the summer.

Tree of Life - May 27th (Limited Release)

Synopsis: Terrance Malick's latest film centers around a family with three boys in the 1950's. The eldest witnesses the loss of innocence. Brad Pitt, Sean Penn and Jessica Chastain star. 

Out Take: Malick is the sort artistic director who tends to split audiences right down the love/hate divide. There's a good chance that Tree of Life will continue that trend, through the imagery in the trailer gorgeous for the most part. 

X-Men: First Class - June 3rd

X-Men First Class Trailer 2

Synopsis: Before Charles Xavier (James McAvoy) and Erik Lensherr (Michael Fassbender) took the names Professor X and Magneto, they were two young men discovering their powers for the first time. Before they were arch enemies, they were closest of friends, working together, with other Mutants (some familiar, some new), to stop the greatest threat the world has eve known. In the process, a rift between them opened, which began the eternal war between Magento's Brotherhood and Professor X's X-Men. 

Our Take: First Class may be the biggest wildcard in the summer 2011 lineup. Most of the marketing and promotion for the film has been terrible (see the amateur-looking Photoshop posters) and the storyline takes many liberties with the X-Men movie/comic continuity… but still, the trailers have been somewhat impressive and McAvoy and Fassbender certainly seem to be the glue holding this film together.

Super 8 - June 10th

Super 8 movie image J.J. Abrams

Synopsis: In this J.J. Abrams homage to classic sci-fi films, a group of kids accidentally capture footage of a mysterious creature via 8 mm film. Action, mystery and adventure ensue.

Our Take: The latest trailers suggest that Super 8 is going to be a healthy mix of exciting thrills and genuine sentimentality that has defined the best of Steven Spielberg’s work, and is shaping Abrams career as well. Count us in.

Green Lantern - June 17th

The Green Lantern Corps movie version

Synopsis: A test pilot (Ryan Reynolds) is granted a mystical green ring that bestows him with otherworldly powers, as well as membership into an intergalactic squadron tasked with keeping peace within the universe. Blake Lively, Mark Strong and Peter Sarsgaard co-star.

Our Take: A few weeks back, we would’ve said that Green Lantern had all the hallmarks of a major disappointment. What a difference a trailer makes. With some noticeably improved CGI effects and a more serious tone being revealed, Green Lantern now has the potential to be THE blockbuster movie event of summer 2011.

Bad Teacher - June 17th

Bad Teacher Movie Cameron Diaz Justin Timberlake

Synopsis: A comedy centered around a foul-mouthed, junior high teacher (Cameron Diaz) who, after being dumped by her sugar daddy, begins to woo a colleague (Justin Timberlake) — a move that pits her against a well-loved teacher (Jason Segel).

Our Take: At first glance, this film looks like Bad Santa leftovers. Watching former off-screen couple Diaz and Timberlake feign onscreen romance isn’t the greatest selling point either…

Cars 2 - June 24th

Cars 2 movie Disney Pixar new character images

Synopsis: Racing star Lightning McQueen (Owen Wilson) teams up with his best friend Mater (Larry the Cable Guy) for an international adventure as they go up against the world’s fastest cars. Michael Caine, Emily Mortimer, Bonnie Hunt, Tony Shalhoub, Joe Mantegna, Cheech Marin and Jason Isaacs lend voices.

Our Take: In a summer filled with such promise, this is ironically enough one of the weakest Pixar offerings in years (which still makes it a good film). The Cars franchise appeals almost exclusively to kids, and Pixar’s usual penchant for telling poignant and profoundly stories in fun ways takes a back seat to merchandising campaign. To be fair though, some clever spy action satire should make Cars 2 more fun for adults than its predecessor was.

Transformers: Dark of the Moon - July 1st

Transformers 3 Trailer 2

Synopsis: The Autobots learn of a Cybertronian spacecraft hidden on the Moon, and race against the Decepticons to reach it and learn its secrets, which could turn the tide in the Transformers’ final battle.

Our Take: Dark of the Moon appears to have the best action sequences of any Transformers movie to date. As for a coherent script and a better (read: less cheesy) tone to the film? We’ll have to wait and see.  We want to be optimistic, but Michael Bay burned us pretty badly with Revenge of the Fallen. Consider us cautiously hopeful for now.

Larry Crowne - July 1st

Tom Hanks and Julia Roberts star in Larry Crowne

Synopsis: After losing his job, a middle-aged man (Tom Hanks) reinvents himself by going back to college. Julia Roberts, Bryan Cranston, Wilmer Valderrama, Taraji P. Henson, Cedric the Entertainer and Pam Grier star.

Our Take: We don’t know much about this film, but it’s hard to go wrong with Hanks (and to lesser extent, Roberts). The supporting cast is pretty great as well, so this one could be good.

Zookeeper - July 8th

Zookeeper Kevin James

Synopsis: The animals at one particular zoo decide to break their code of silence in order to help their lovable zookeeper (Kevin James) gain the attention of one particular woman. Rosario Dawson, Ken Jeong, Leslie Bibb and Donnie Wahlberg star; Sylvester Stallone, Adam Sandler, Jon Favreau, Cher, Judd Apatow and Faizon Love voice the animals.

Our Take: It’s a Kevin James comedy film. Should be fun if the entire family is looking for a good time at the movies. Plenty of other comedies this summer if you like your humor to be more edgy.

One for the MoneyJuly 8th

one for the money starring katherine Heigel

Synopsis: Unemployed and newly-divorced Stephanie Plum (Katherine Heigl) lands a job at her cousin’s bail-bond business, where her first assignment puts her on the trail of a wanted local cop from her romantic past.

Our Take: As you can tell from the photo, Heigl is definitely playing against here usual rom-com type. Does that mean this will be a unique and refreshing rom-com movie? Well, it does sound a lot like that Jennifer Anniston/Gerard Butler film The Bounty Hunter – and that’s definitely NOT a good thing…

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part II - July 15th

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 trailer

Synopsis: The end begins as Harry, Ron, and Hermione go back to Hogwarts to find and destroy Voldemort’s final horcruxes, but when Voldemort finds out about their mission, the biggest battle begins and life as they know it will never be the same again.

Our Take: This is going to be the epic, gut-wrenching finale to a decade-long cinematic journey that every fan has been waiting for. What else is there to say? Go get your tickets NOW!

The SitterJuly 15th

Synopsis: A comedy about a college student (Jonah Hill) on suspension who is coaxed into babysitting the kids next door, though he is fully unprepared for the wild night ahead of him. Sam Rockwell, Erin Daniels, Method Man and J.B. Smoove co-star.

Our Take: We haven’t seen or heard much, other than the fact that the script for this film is quite funny. We’ll be keeping an eye out for its release and give you the lowdown as soon as we know it.

Winnie the Pooh - July 15th

Winnie the Pooh movie Disney

Synopsis: The beloved honey-loving Bear and his friends are back in a new big-screen adventure. Jim Cummings voices Pooh and Tigger, with Craig Ferguson, John Cleese and Tom Keeny also lending their voices.

Our Take: How can seeing Winnie the Pooh NOT fill you with a sense of nostalgia? This should be some good ol’ fashioned 2D animation fun for the kids.

Captain America: The First Avenger - July 22nd

Captain America movie in Modern Era

Synopsis: After being deemed unfit for military service, Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) volunteers for a top secret research project that turns him into Captain America, a superhero dedicated to defending America’s ideals. Samuel L. Jackson, Hugo Weaving, Stanley Tucci, Tommy Lee Jones, Sebastian Stan, Hayley Atwell, Neal McDonough and Toby Jones co-star.

Our Take: This movie is another big wild card in the summer 2011 lineup. The trailers so far have hinted at a solid story, but we haven’t yet seen much in the way of action. For now, we remain optimistic – Chris Evans seems to be doing his role as Steve Rogers justice, though – so that’s a plus.

Friends With Benefits - July 22nd

Friends with Benefits movie Justin Timberlake Mila Kunis

Synopsis: The relationship between two friends (Mila Kunis, Justin Timberlake) gets complicated when they decide to get romantic. Emma Stone, Rashida Jones, Woody Harrelson, Patricia Clarkson, Andy Samberg, Richard Jenkins and Jenna Elfman co-star.

Our Take: This is basically another version of the Ashton Kutcher/Natalie Portman film No Strings Attached. If you are fan of the new “casual sex rom-com” sub-genre, then Friends With Benefits (and its two pretty leads) should be a good experience for you.

Cowboys & Aliens - July 29th

Alien motivation - Cowboys & Aliens

Synopsis: A spaceship arrives in Arizona, 1873, to take over the Earth, starting with the Wild West region. A posse of cowboys are all that stand in their way. Daniel Craig, Olivia Wilde, Harrison Ford, Sam Rockwell, Noah Ringer and Paul Dano star.

Our Take: Despite a silly title that may discourage movie-goers, Jon Favreau looks to have done a proper genre mashup that will be both pleasing as a Western and a sci-fi flick. The trailers have certainly made the film look pretty awesome. Should be a great summer popcorn flick.

Crazy, Stupid, LoveJuly 29th


Synopsis: A father’s life unravels while he deals with a marital crisis and tries to manage his relationship with his children. Steve Carell, Ryan Gosling, Emma Stone, Kevin Bacon, Marisa Tomei and Julianne Moore star.

Our Take: An odd-pair like Gosling and Carell is just crazy (stupid?) enough to work. With supporting actors like Stone, Bacon, Tomei and Moore, you can bet that this film will deliver.

The Devil’s Double - July 29th

The Devil's Double trailer

Synopsis: Summoned from the frontline to Saddam Hussein’s palace, Iraqi army lieutenant Latif Yahia (Dominic Cooper) is thrust into the highest echelons of the “royal family” when he’s ordered to become the ‘fiday’ – or body double – to Saddam’s son, the notorious “Black Prince” Uday Hussein (also Cooper), a reckless, sadistic party-boy with a rabid hunger for sex and brutality. With his and his family’s lives at stake, Latif must surrender his former self forever as he learns to walk, talk and act like Uday. But nothing could have prepared him for the horror of the Black Prince’s psychotic, drug-addled life of fast cars, easy women and impulsive violence.

Our Take: Sure, Cooper is going to have a role as Tony Stark’s dad in Captain America, but we think it’ll be this dual role in what looks to be a thrilling true-life story that will firmly establish him as a breakout star.

Horrible Bosses - July 29th

Horrible Bosses new image

Synopsis: Three friends conspire to murder their awful bosses when they realize they are standing in the way of their happiness. Jason Bateman, Charlie Day, Jason Sudeikis, Colin Farrell, Jamie Foxx, Kevin Spacey, Jennifer Aniston and Donald Sutherland star.

Our Take: You never know which summer comedy is going to breakout and be a sleeper hit. Horrible Bosses may claim that prize with its solid cast of funny people…but for right now our money is on Bridesmaids.

The Smurfs - August 3rd

Clumsy, Grouchy, Papa, Smurfette, Gutsy and Brainy Smurf are ready for adventure

Synopsis: When the evil wizard Gargamel (Hank Azaria) chases the tiny blue Smurfs out of their village, they tumble from their magical world and into ours — in fact, smack dab in the middle of Central Park. Just three apples high and stuck in the Big Apple, the Smurfs must find a way to get back to their village before Gargamel tracks them down. Neil Patrick Harris, Sofía Vergara and Jayma Mays star; Katy Perry, Anton Yelchin, Paul Reubens, Alan Cumming, B.J. Novak, Fred Armisen, George Lopez, Kenan Thompson and Jonathan Winters voice The Smurfs.

Our Take: Another CGI/Live-action hybrid trying to cash in on cartoon nostalgia. If The Chipmunks and Yogi Bear are any indication, the kids will flock to see the smurfs, inevitably spawning some worse squeakquels.

The Change-UpAugust 5th

the change up starring Jason Bateman and Ryan Reynolds

Synopsis: A comedy in which a married guy (Jason Bateman) switches bodies with his best friend (Ryan Reynolds) in order to woo his co-worker. Olivia Wilde and Leslie Mann co-star.

Our Take: Sure, by now we’ve seen so many variations of the Freaky Friday premise, but at worst, the Change-Up looks like a harmless cliche – at best, it will offer some good laughs.

Rise of the Planet of the Apes - August 5th

andy serkis as caesar in rise of the planet of the apes

Synopsis: In this Planet of the Apes origin story, set in present day San Francisco, a scientist’s (James Franco) experiments with genetic engineering lead to the development of a fiercely intelligent ape named Caesar (Andy Serkis) and the onset of a war for supremacy.

Our Take: Rise of the Planet of the Apes is worth seeing solely based on the impressive motion-capture ape effects created by Peter Jackson’s WETA Workshop (the effects house behind the King Kong remake). A Shakespeare-meets-sci-fi story should be a fitting anchor for the F/X extravaganza, and who knows, overall this film may turn out to be excellent.

30 Minutes or Less - August 12th

30 Minutes or less movie photo

Synopsis: Two fledgling criminals kidnap a pizza delivery driver and force him to rob a bank within 30 minutes. Jesse Eisenberg, Danny McBride, Nick Swardson, Aziz Ansari, Fred Ward, Bianca Kajlich and Micahel Peña star.

Our Take: Another comedy that hasn’t exactly earned too much of an early buzz, but the cast is impressive and the premise leaves room for a LOT of great laughs. Whether or not the filmmakers capitalize on that potential remains to be seen.

Final Destination 5 - August 12th

Final Destination 5 new image1

Synopsis: Survivors of a suspension-bridge collapse learn there’s no way you can cheat Death. Emma Bell, Nicholas D’Agosto, Courtney B. Vance and Tony Todd star.

Our Take: This franchise burned itself out about 3 movies ago. Unless this new installment does something truly revolutionary, we’re already set to rent this on DVD.

The Help - August 12th


Synopsis: A look at what happens when a southern town’s unspoken code of rules and behavior is shattered by three courageous women who strike up an unlikely friendship. Emma Stone, Bryce Dallas Howard, Viola Davis, and Sissy Spacek star. Based on the Kathryn Stockett novel.

Our Take: This looks to be a feel-good (if not slightly cliched) summer movie about tolerance and friendship. Nothing wrong with that in a season otherwise filled with slugfests and explosions.

Conan the Barbarian - August 19th

conan the barbarian remake trailer Jason Momoa

Synopsis: The tale of Conan the Cimmerian (Jason Momoa) and his adventures across the continent of Hyboria on a quest to avenge the murder of his father and the slaughter of his village. Ron Pearlman, Rachel Nichols, Stephen Lang, Rose McGowan and Said Taghmaoui co-star.

Our Take: Momoa is a quickly-rising star thanks to roles in Stargate: Atlantis and Game of Thrones. It’s become clear at this point that the actor will make for a good Conan, and his supporting cast (Pearlman and Lang in particular) seem just as well-suited to this material. If the director is on his game, Conan could close out the summer in spectacular fashion (would be nice if they’d release an actual trailer, though).

Fright Night - August 19th

Fright Night remake starring Colin Farrell and Anton Yelchin

Synopsis: A remake of the comedy-horror picture about a Vegas teenager (Anton Yelchin) who discovers his new next-door neighbor (Colin Farrell) is a vampire. David Tennant, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Imogen Poots and Toni Collette co-star.

Our Take: Fright Night was a cult hit amongst horror movie fans of the ’80s era, so it’s been hard to muster much enthusiasm for this remake. It’s one of those cases where we’ll have to see it before we can believe that it is worthy.

Spy Kids 4: All the Time in the World - August 19th

Jessica Alba in Spy Kids 4

Synopsis: A mother (Jessica Alba) returns to her old profession — she’s a retired spy — in order to prevent a villain bent on stopping time. Danny Trejo, Alexa Vega, Antonio Banderas, Jeremy Piven, and Daryl Sabara star.

Our Take: This franchise has a loyal following, and with Robert Rodriguez still running the show – plus the added draw of Alba headlining – Spy Kids 4 should be just as successful as its predecessors… if not more.

Apollo 18 - August 26th

Apollo 18 release date august 26th

Synopsis: NASA’s canceled trip to the moon in the 1970s is the basis for this found-footage-style picture exploring the urban legend surrounding that mission — what if Apollo 18 actually did occur and the proof of extraterrestrial life exists on film? Wanted’s Timur Bekmambetov produces the film, with Spanish filmmaker Gonzalo Lopez-Gallego directing.

Our take: This film has had its released date changed again and again, and word is the film is being re-cut in order to salvage it. We initially included it on our list of 20 Most Anticipated Films for 2011, but at this point, we’re not holding out much hope.

What has you watching movie trailers in excitement this summer? Known franchise films like Transformer 3 or Harry Potter, first time superhero movies like Captain America, Green Lantern and Thor, or maybe some of the lesser known and possibly “smaller” films like Super 8 and Tree of Life? Let us know!

Friday, April 29, 2011

Brain Damage Review

Brain Damage is a film about a young man living in New York City who throws all of his ambitions and aptitude into the local gutter by becoming horribly addicted to drugs…and when I say drugs, I mean a hallucinogenic secretion pumped into his Medulla Oblongata by a brain-sucking parasite, who uses our hero to feed his monstrous appetite. This film is particularly rare, as its topic of choice and the delivery of the message is fairly mature, but the execution of the film as a whole and the subject matter is pretty silly and over the top (in a sadistic sort of way). Though to be fair, despite this silliness, Brain Damage does a very good job keeping a straight face with its dark tone and consistent reminder that our main character suffers from a very common and down to earth disease; addiction. In all my years, I can’t imagine anyone not comprehending the feeling of addiction; you want something so much that it becomes the only thought on your mind.

Time literally stops, because nothing can distract you from your craving to indulge in that one particular thing. But this film allows you to take a back seat to your addictions and see how ridiculous the compulsion truly is. We see the truth that what most of us are addicted to is not only unimpressively unimportant, but also incredibly harmful to us in every possible way (whether it be alcohol, cigarettes, cupcakes or brain sucking leech juice).

Our protagonist’s name is Brian. He is a young man with a loving girlfriend, a supportive (and jealous) brother and a particularly addictive personality. Brian meets up with a creature who looks like a googly eyed leech, yet encompasses the suave mannerisms of the Devil himself. Its weapon rational and seductive persuasion. It doesn’t need to intimidate or frighten Brian because he has his drug, which he knows Brian cannot live without. For the rest of the film, Brian struggles to cope with his inability to quit this drug despite the futile helpful hands of his girlfriend and brother. However, the plot thickens as Brian sinks deeper into his addiction and his brother begins to make moves on his girlfriend.

I’d be comfortable with saying that 90% of the time, a good film of this genre is measured by its antagonist (yes, I know this is a subjective statement). It just so happens that the antagonist in this film is one of the most charming and likeable of demonic abominations I’ve seen in a very long time. I mean, look at him with his smug face and silly unblinking soulless eyes. It takes a very charming personality to get you to look beyond this creature’s hideousness and trust the things he says. Without the smooth talking and hauntingly imposing voice acting of Horror Host John Zacherle (the Cool Ghoul is in this film!) this monster would have absolutely no power over anyone.

I love this movie because it manages to avoid talking down to me despite the fact that it doesn’t try to hide its obvious message. I give you permission to call me a sucker, because the beauty of this film comes from its simplicity; the protagonist is addicted to drugs and the drug is blatantly unhealthy (I mean, come on! Have you really looked at the turd-leech with the fangs parking itself on the back of your neck!?). But if one were to truly take themselves out of one’s body and look at the world from a wider perspective, it becomes very clear that all recreational drugs are blatantly unhealthy in a very similar way. The basic fact is that no matter how good a drug can make you feel, consistent use of any substance will over time deteriorate your body and your mind. I don’t mean to sound judgmental because I am the most non-judgmental person on the planet, especially when it comes to what one does to get one’s kicks. However, whether taken with a grain of salt or not, Brain Damage paints a very common picture we see all the time in the real world. A fairly likeable human being becomes dependent on a substance not indigenous to his body and goes through a metamorphosis for the worst, which affects everyone around him in a very negative way. The flip side of course is we all know drugs are bad, but most people would probably be lying if they haven’t at least been intrigued by the idea of indulging in the bad habits their ID desires to explore.

Some have told me that they cannot take this film seriously because they refuse to believe that anyone would trust a talking leech, no matter how persuasive he sounds. But I really must beg to differ. As I stated before, this sort of thing happens all the time (and I don’t mean talking leeches). I know most drug dealers aren’t necessarily the snake eyed monsters many of the 80’s and 90’s PSA’s would have us believe. But seriously, unless you were buying heroin from your grandma, why would you ever trust a stranger on the street to keep your best intentions in mind? The truth is that Brian needed no persuasion to take drugs. We see clearly how his downward spiral begins not from the persuasion of a monster, but from within himself. And that is where the true horror lies. Though I must admit, this film is a lot sillier than I am giving it credit for. Not since Return of the Living Dead have I seen such brain consumption. There’s monster fallacio, spaghetti and pulsating brains, blue leech juice and a never-ending fountain of blood, and oh so much more. This film does suffer from a fairly miniscule budget and does indulge in the occasional illogical, yet visually amusing gimmick or two (how does a leech the size of your forearm hide inside of one’s throat without impairing one’s ability to speak or breath?). Still, if you happen upon this film and enjoy a good horror/exploitation romp like I do, I highly recommend checking it out for yourself.

Notable Tidbits

-Kevin Van Hentenryck from the movie Basket Case makes a cameo as Duane Bradley from that same film. Frank Henenlotter is the director of both films, which both take place in New York City and both involve young and healthy men whose lives are bogged down with the unfortunate burden of a needy monster.

-There are inconsistencies with the spelling of the monster’s name in the credits. They specifically introduce him half way through the movie as Aylmer (pronounced like an ailment) however; they spell his name E-L-M-E-R in the credits. There is actually a scene in the movie, which goes into minute detail of his name and the meaning behind it.

***I do understand the irony of this blog; the praise I give for its dark tone and serious topic juxtaposed to the goofy photographs.