Movie Review: The Brain That Wouldn’t Die

Movie Review: The Brain That Wouldn't Die

The Brain That Wouldn’t Die (also known as The Head That Wouldn’t Die) is a 1962 American science-fiction/horror film directed by Joseph Green and written by Green and Rex Carlton.The film was completed in 1959 under the working title The Black Door but was not released until May 3, 1962, when it was renamed.The main plot focuses upon a mad doctor who develops a means to keep human body parts alive. He must eventually use his discovery on someone close to him, and chaos ensues.

Dr. Bill Cortner (Jason Evers) saves a patient pronounced dead, but the senior surgeon, Cortner’s father (Bruce Brighton) condemns his son’s unorthodox methods and transplant theories.

Driving to his family’s country house, Cortner and his beautiful fiancée Jan Compton (Virginia Leith), suffer a fiery car accident that decapitates Jan. Cortner recovers her severed head and rushes to his country house basement laboratory. He and his crippled assistant Kurt (Leslie Daniels) revive the head in a liquid-filled tray.

Cortner decides to murder to obtain a body for Jan. He hunts for a suitable specimen at a burlesque nightclub, on the streets, and at a beauty contest. Jan hates Cortner because he won’t let her die. She begins communicating telepathically with a hideous mutant, an experiment gone wrong, locked in a laboratory cell. When Kurt leaves a hatch in the cell door unlocked, the monster grabs and tears off Kurt’s arm. Kurt dies.

Cortner lures an old girlfriend, figure model Doris Powell (Adele Lamont), to his house, promising to study her scarred face for plastic surgery. He drugs her and carries her to the laboratory. Jan protests Cortner’s plan to transplant her head onto Doris’s body. He tapes Jan’s mouth shut.

When Cortner goes to quiet the monster, it grabs Cortner through the hatch and breaks the door from its hinges. Their struggles set the laboratory ablaze. The monster (Eddie Carmel), a seven-foot giant with a horribly deformed head (presumably the result of various failed transplants and/or other surgeries), bites a chunk from Cortner’s neck (a scene often cut from television broadcasts). Cortner dies, and the monster carries the unconscious Doris to safety. As the lab goes up in flames, Jan says, “I told you to let me die.” The screen goes black, followed by a maniacal cackle.