Brain Damage: Limited Edition Blu-ray Review + Screenshots

Brain Damage tells the story of a guy who becomes addicted to a parasite with the voice of an angel and the taste for brains of an 80's zombie. Filled with sleaze, laughs, and over the top gore, Brain Damage is a film that will leave you either amazed or horrified


brain damage title card

Listen to the Light: The Making of Brain Damage (54m 13s, HD)

Produced in-house by Arrow, this is a nice look back at the making of the film. It features interviews with the effects guys, along with the producer and lead actor. It is kind of weird that Frank Henenlotter is nowhere to be found here, but he does pop up in other places. This doc is a little bit heavy on the effects talk, but it is still an entertaining and informative sit through.

The Effects of Brain Damage (10m, HD)

Gabe Bartalos takes us through the different effects that were done for the film. There is a lot of 
behind the scenes footage and we even get to see some of the effects that Bartalos kept.

Animating Elmer (6m 40s, HD)

This is an interview with Al Magliochetti, who worked on some of the effects and did the stop motion animation for Elmer.

Karen Ogle: A Look Back (4m 29s, HD)

Karen was the still photographer on the film and she gives us a few stories about working on the film.

Elmer’s Turf: The NYC Locations of Brain Damage (8m 48s, HD)

Michael Gingold of Rue Morgue Magazine gives us a tour of the locations used for the film. He is 
joined by Frank Henenlotter for the first stop of the tour.

Tasty Memories: A Brain Damage Obsession (10m, HD)

Adam Skinner, a Brain Damage “superfan”, talks about Brain Damage and what he loves about the film. He shows us his collection of Brain Damage memorabilia from around the world and then him and his band, The Statutory Apes, play a some songs from their album that is all about Brain Damage.

After this featurette ends, we are taken to a hidden menu that allows us to listen to four more songs from the Brain Damage album that Skinner put together. The four songs are:

                -The Band From Planet X “The Man with the Basket/Blowjob (2m 58s, HD)

                -Bull Milk “A Club Called Hell” (3m 30s, HD)

                -Daiqurri “Movies I Like” (3m 20s, HD)

                -Ultron Aterides “Terrible Purpose” (3m 3s, HD)

Frank Henelotter Q&A (20m 36s, HD)

Recorded at the Offscreen Film Festival in Brussels on March 13th, 2016 after a screening of Brain Damage, Frank Henenlotter tells some fabulous stories about the making of the Brain Damage and dispels some rumors that have been floating around.

Image Galleries

-Stills (258 Images)

-Behind the Scenes (95 Images)

-Ephemera (52 Images)

Original Theatrical Trailer (1m 15s, HD)

Bygone Behemoth (5m 8s, HD)

Directed by Harry Chaskin, this stop-motion animated film is about a monster who was the toast of the film world, starring in many monster movies, before he got old and became obsolete. This is a fantastic short that contains almost no dialogue, but tells a sad story of fading fame and growing old. 
This film also marks the last onscreen appearance from John Zacherle, who voiced Elmer in Brain 

Commentary with Frank Henenlotter

Isolated Score

I love features like this as it allows us to experience the film without any dialogue or sound effects. The score is very good and I was surprised to see this feature here.  


This disc was sent to me by Arrow Video and thus is a screener copy. This is essentially the retail disc, just without disc art, so what I am reviewing is what will be in stores. That being said, this is a two disc (one blu-ray, one DVD) set that comes with the standard Arrow booklet featuring essays about the film. The set also comes with a nice slip cover which, along with the booklet, is limited. The box cover is reversible, with custom art on one side and the original theatrical poster on the other side.

The Blu-ray is REGION FREE and the DVD is REGION ONE

This is what the set will look like: 


the trippiest junkyard out there

Brain Damage was shot on 35mm, so fans of Basket Case (which was shot on 16mm) are in for a treat. The film retains the grit and grim that Henelotter is always going for while still looking like a professional film. Blue is a dominant color here and it comes through very nicely. There is also a nice layer of film grain and detail is fantastic throughout. I know that there will be the videophiles who will go over the picture quality with a fine tooth comb and nitpick every imperfection that they see, but the picture is really nice and should be applauded for that.



The sound here is nice. We are given a DTS-HD Master Audio Mono track and it works well here. The dialogue comes through crisp and clear and the score, which has some amazing parts to it, never overwhelms the track.


two people in bed. that is all

I love Frank Henenlotter. He makes some of the most fun, off the wall, batshit crazy films. He broke out onto the scene with Basket Case (1982), a film that I love, and would go on to make the wonderful Frankenhooker (1990) along with two Basket Case sequels. There was only one film that eluded me, 1988’s Brain Damage and now that I finally seen it, I can say that I am happy that I saw it.

Plot: Meet Elmer. He’s your local, friendly parasite with the ability to induce euphoric hallucinations in his hosts. But these LSD-like trips come with a hefty price tag. When young Brian comes under Elmer’s addictive spell, it’s not long before he finds himself scouring the city streets in search of his parasite’s preferred food source – brains!

Brain Damage is the worst of the film’s that Frank Henenlotter has made, but that isn’t a negative thing. Every film that he has made has more heart and soul than a hundred Hollywood blockbusters. It’s just with this film I didn’t connect with the characters like I have with his other films. The main character, Rick, is likeable enough and the actor playing him does a good job.

The brother and girlfriend characters are the ones that I am talking about. The brother doesn’t come off as a good guy, but more of a creep. It isn’t right out in the open, but the man does not sit on my good side. It seems that he just wants Rick to fuck up so that he can sleep with his girlfriend. When Rick runs away (to go and try to get off of the “Elmer juice”) the first thing that his brother does is fuck his girlfriend.

The girlfriend is another story. She comes off as a person who could care less about Rick and just wants the status of having a boyfriend. (There are plenty of women out there that do this every day) When she can see that Rick is in trouble, she doesn’t do the rational thing and try to figure out what is going on. She just fucks his brother.

Now, I know that Henenlotter wrote these characters as such so that we don’t have any sympathy for them when they get in the end, but I would have rather had characters I cared about than ones that are just annoying to watch. Sure, I was happy when they got their just desserts, but whenever they were onscreen, I counted the minutes until Elmer would show up or something crazy would happen.

Speaking of Elemer, he is one of the strangest yet amazing characters I have ever seen. He has the voice of John Zackerle, who was a TV horror host, and his voice is so soothing and nice. Having that voice coming out of something that does horrible things to people was a stroke of genius on Henenlotter’s part.

The film is also filled with sleaze. This being a Henenlotter film, you know that he shot in New York in some of the grimiest areas he could find. He says elsewhere on the disc that the studio where they built the sets was a haven for hookers and drug addicts. Every morning, on their way into the building, the cast and crew would have to try and not step on the all of the used condoms and broken crack viles on the street and sidewalk. If that isn’t sleaze, then I don’t know what is.

The effects, done by Gabe Bartalos, are very impressive so such a low budget. Elmer looks like a penis mixed with some broccoli or cauliflower, dipped in blue and purple paint and yet has the voice of an angel. The decaying effects, done of the elderly couple who lose Elmer at the beginning of the film, are subtle, yet effective. Every effect done here is done well without having any bad effects.

Brain Damage is a film that I liked but didn’t love. Over time I know that my view will change. It happened on Street Trash and it will happen here. The film is really funny, but I was expecting a bit more in horror department. That and the brother and girlfriend characters do hamper the film a bit. 
Other than that Brain Damage is a film that many will love and even more will be offended by.

OVERALL ⭐⭐⭐1/2

the basket case is still out there

I liked, but didn’t love Brain Damage. This is the type of film that, if it doesn’t grab me during the first viewing, it will later. I liked a lot of what I saw, but was turned off by some of the supporting characters. Arrow Video has done a damn fine job with the film. The picture and sound are really good, but it is the special features that really won me over. I had such a great time learning about this film. A must buy especially before the slip cover and booklet disappear.


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