A unique premise definitely. A variation on the Frankenstein theme, with Dr. Cortner (Jason Evers) endeavoring to find a nice body for his girlfriend Jan’s (Virginia Leith’s ) accidentally-severed head. It’s a none-too-happy head, being slightly handicapped by living in a deep-dish pizza pan. If that’s not enough of a hook, there’s a sort of mutant leftover failed-experiment guy wubbling around.
No time wasted as we get experimental surgery on a corpse in the first scene. I shouldn’t be too particular about the crash that results in Jan’s decapitation–but how can she move her arm if her head’s already cut-off? Anyway, the suspension of disbelief with the actual head simulation works pretty well. The mutant guy in the closet should put in an appearance at this point, but all we get is some snarls from him.
Some think that Cortner’s cruising the strip joint, beauty contest, and photo session is distracting. True, a lot of the limited run-time is used up this way, but the scenes makes sense in that he presumably wants the most exotic body for Jan. The very creepy, lurid quality of his quest makes it all the more horrific; he obviously enjoys the ‘window-shopping’. “You may be just what I’m looking for” he tells the blond at the club. He fixates on Doris (Adele Lamont), an Elizabeth Taylor look-alike.
Meanwhile, Jan’s head is kept going by nifty serum and a few dry-cell batteries. There’s some suspense created, as Jan communicates and plots with the mutant, and the lab assistant Kurt (Anthony La Penna). The literal talking head is certainly played for dramatic effect–it looks plenty creepy just floating there. Interestingly, She’s developed a sort of telepathy/mind-control (that’s some serum…). Finally the mutant gets into action, ripping Kurt’s good arm off.
Cortner reassures Doris “Do I look like a maniac that goes around killing girls?” She doesn’t think so quite yet. Ok, now he’s set for the ultimate operation–but mutant-guy does a very gross zombie assault on Cortner, and saves an intact Doris before the obligatory lab fire consumes Jan and Cortner. Not a bad ending.
But there’s too many plot holes and missed opportunities. The mutant should’ve been active much sooner–maybe he escapes, but Cortner is able to use him to fetch corpses or something. His gigantic head is pretty grotesque and he could add a lot of interest. The accident scene really should lead the cops right to Cortner; Jan’s body would provide any amount of identifying marks, i.e., fingerprints. And it’s Cortner’s car. But there’s no follow-up whatsoever.
And why would Doris trust him? She seems to very guarded at first, then just gives in. Although there’s a lot going on in the movie, it seems very slow. The Brain That Wouldn’t Die is worth a look for the novelty factor, and for some good scenes. 5/10.