DVD Review HTF REVIEW: Man With The Screaming Brain

Discussion in 'DVD' started by Aaron Silverman, Sep 30, 2005.

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  1. Aaron Silverman

    Aaron Silverman Executive Producer

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    [​IMG]
    Man With The Screaming Brain[​IMG]

    US Theatrical Release: June 6, 2005 (Sci Fi Channel/ Anchor Bay)
    US DVD Release: October 4, 2005
    Running Time: 1:29:37 (17 chapter stops)
    Rating: Not Rated (Contains cartoonish violence, a bit of very fake gore, and some mild cussin'.)
    Video: 1.78:1 Anamorphic (Extra Features: 1.78:1 anamorphic (some of it is varying pillarboxed ratios)
    Audio: English DD5.1, English DD2.0 (Extra Features: English DD2.0)
    Subtitles: None (Extra Features: None)
    TV-Generated Closed Captions: English (Extra Features: None)
    Menus: Light Background Animation
    Packaging: Standard keepcase; insert has a Man With The Screaming Brain poster image on one side and a chapter listing on the other.
    MSRP: $19.98

    THE WAY I FEEL ABOUT IT: 2.5/5

    For centuries, the world's greatest doctors and scientists have wrestled with the issue of brain transplants. In ancient times, skull-hole drilling was perfected as a method for expelling evil spirits from the mind, but success in working with the corporeal contents of the cranium was elusive. The brilliant Roman physician Cerebrus Swappus managed to transfer a medulla oblongata from a Gaul to a Pict, but was never able to solve the problem of host body rejection of the transplanted organ. The knowledge discovered by Swappus was lost during the Dark Ages, and no further progress was made until the early Twenty-First Century, when brilliant Russian researcher Ivan Ivanovich Ivanov finally had a breakthrough. This is his story.

    Ivanov (Stacy Keach) and his loopy hipster assistant Pavel (Ted Raimi) seem to have solved the rejection problem, and they need financing. By a fortuitous stroke of luck, obnoxious American industrialist William Cole (Bruce Campbell) and his bored wife Jackie (Antoinette Byron) have just arrived in the Bulgarian town that is home to Ivanov's lab. Cole is in town on business, and Jackie has tagged along for shopping and perhaps a bit of adventure, if she can find it. Her interest is soon piqued by their earthy cab driver (and mysterious ex-KGB operative) Yegor (Vladimir Kolev).

    Pavel is dispatched to try and convince Cole to meet with Ivanov, but Cole has no interest in Pavel's bizarre, semi-literate pleas. He does, however, have an interest in the sultry Gypsy cleaning woman Tatoya (Tamara Gorski), whom he meets in his hotel. Unfortunately, Tatoya is quite psychotic, and the encounter leaves him dead -- with (conveniently for the good Doctor) half his brain crushed. In a strange twist of fate, it turns out that Tatoya has a past with Yegor -- and he too falls prey to her lethal rejection issues (brain intact -- also convenient).

    When Ivanov hears what's happened, he assigns Pavel to a new mission. He is to retrieve the bodies, so that Ivanov can demonstrate his genius by using Yegor's brain to revive Cole. However, unbeknownst to Ivanov and Pavel, there is a problem. They go ahead with the operation without realizing that the anti-rejection formula is unstable -- there's no telling what will happen when the two brains are joined. Things seem to go well at first, but William/ Yegor escapes from the lab like a modern-day Frankenstein's Monster, bent on finding Tatoya and avenging its own death -- whoops, make that "deaths."

    When Jackie learns of her husband's fate, she decides to take some revenge of her own. Of course, confronting the murderous Tatoya is a terrible idea, and Jackie ends up requiring Dr. Ivanov's services as well. Her body is broken, but her brain is salvageable. However, there is no host body available. What to do? Perhaps Pavel's breakdancing robot (oh yes he did!) will fit the bill. (Hey, if she can't take out her anger on Tatoya, then maybe she can pop & lock it out.)

    It's not too hard to see where this is going -- and it passes through a myriad of sight gags and silly wisecracks to get there. There's also plenty of violence from the Bugs Bunny School Of Cartoon Beatings, to boot. Although the premise is completely ridiculous, the plot manages to stay true to itself, allowing the viewer to relax and enjoy the wacky ride without worrying too much about trying to make sense of it all.

    Man With The Screaming Brain certainly lives up to its title. It's incredibly cheesy, vaguely amateurish, completely absurd, and a lot of fun. The cast and filmmakers are clearly having a blast the entire time, and their enthusiasm rubs off on the viewer. There isn't a hint of self-consciousness to be found as the lunatic characters chase each other through the streets of Sofia, spouting one-liners and dodging low-rent effects. While there are only minimal amounts of sex and gore (this cut differs only slightly from the version shown on the Sci Fi Channel; a network like FX would probably show it uncut), there are plenty of gags to keep things rollicking.

    All that said, Man With The Screaming Brain is definitely for genre fans only. "Suspension of disbelief" doesn't even begin to cover this script. This is not highbrow entertainment by any stretch of the imagination. Viewers who aren't inclined to appreciate the joys of schlock are likely to groan for 90 minutes (if they make it that far). As far as low-budget sci-fi horror comedy goes, it's a winner, but this is not a film that's going to break out into mainstream appeal.


    THE WAY I SEE IT: 1.5/5

    The wildly inconsistent picture betrays its low-budget, made-for-TV roots. Some scenes looked washed-out, while others have oversaturated, blooming colors. Pattern shimmering and jagged edges are rampant. Detail is very soft, often only slightly superior to standard-def cable. There is a little bit of edge enhancement, but it's completely overshadowed by the other video issues.


    THE WAY I HEAR IT: 2.5/5

    The audio fares much better than the video, but still has issues. It sounds a little thin in the low-mid range, sometimes with a tinny quality. The surround channels provide generous support for the music and ambient effects. The LFE makes its presence gently felt now and then, but it won't shake the house.


    THE SWAG: 2.5/5 (rating combines quality and quantity)

    Commentary With Writer/ Director/ Producer/ Star Bruce Campbell and Producer David Goodman

    Campbell and Goodman maintain a brisk pace throughout this track, talking about all sorts of stuff related to the production and the development of the movie. It's quite informative and will definitely appeal to fans of guerrilla filmmaking.

    Brain Surgeons: Making The Screaming Brain (13:48)

    Interviews with Campbell and Goodman, interspersed with some behind-the-scenes footage and a few film clips. There is some overlap with the commentary, but for the most part it's pretty interesting.

    Neurology 101: Evolution Of The Screaming Brain (14:02)

    In this clever and unique feature, Campbell, Goodman, and a blackboard sporting the heading "The Board Of Pain" explain how they found financing for the film -- an 18-year odyssey. This is a must-see for anyone curious about how independent filmmakers raise money. This story is nearly as wacky as the Screaming Brain itself!

    Behind The Scenes (9:32)

    A montage of behind-the-scenes footage set to music (there is no production audio). It's pillarboxed anamorphic, approximately 1.66:1.

    Storyboard Gallery

    A fairly random collection of storyboard stills that can be paged through using the remote.

    Comic Book Art Gallery

    The first 30-odd panels of the comic book adaptation of the film, which can be paged through using the remote.

    Bruce Campbell Bio

    A fairly extensive set of text pages outlining the career of the multitalented Mr. Campbell.

    Easter Egg (7:29)

    Cursoring up from the first item on the Extras menu or down from the last item brings up a yellow brain. Pressing Enter plays this featurette, which documents an elaborate practical joke that Bruce Campbell and a couple of the Eastern European cast members played on David Goodman. It's kind of confusing, but mildly amusing.

    Trailers

    Six trailers are included. All of them except for Man With The Screaming Brain play automatically when the disc is inserted. They may be skipped.
    • Man With The Screaming Brain (2:00) (DD2.0; 1.78:1 anamorphic)
    • The Evil Dead (1:53) (DD2.0; 1.78:1 anamorphic)
    • Evil Dead 2 (1:26) (DD2.0; 1.78:1 anamorphic)
    • Dead & Breakfast (1:09) (DD2.0; 1.78:1 anamorphic)
    • Lightning Bug (1:13) (DD2.0; 1.78:1 anamorphic)
    • Thou Shalt Not Kill. . .Except (2:07) (DD2.0; 1.78:1 anamorphic)

    SUMMING IT ALL UP

    The Way I Feel About It: 2.5/5
    The Way I See It: 1.5/5
    The Way I Hear It: 2.5/5
    The Swag: 2.5/5


    At the intersection of the Sci Fi Channel and the Evil Dead series lives the gloriously silly Man With The Screaming Brain. It's a must-see for Bruce Campbell fans, definitely worth a look for schlock genre enthusiasts, and eminently skippable for everyone else. The video quality is disappointing, even for a made-for-TV flick, but the audio is OK. Some thought was obviously put into the special features. By now, it should be pretty clear whether this film is for you, in which case, if the weak picture doesn't put you off, by all means give this disc a spin.
     
  2. Cory H.

    Cory H. Stunt Coordinator

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    The movie itself was absolutely intolerable, and only solidifies my opinion that Bruce Campbell has stretched his 15 minutes into approximately 25 years. I followed this up with his "Alien Apocalypse" this morning, which was equally as pathetic.

    God Bless Anchor Bay for all they do, but these two were DUDS!
     
  3. TheLongshot

    TheLongshot Producer

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    Unlike Alien Apocalypse, this actually had some decent acting, which made it watchable.

    I agree with the reviewer that you have to have a high tolerance for cheese to enjoy this film. Course, if you are a Bruce Campbell fan, you probably already have that tollerence.

    This isn't going to get Campbell directing gigs, and is probably not going to be a classic, but some people have to start somewhere, and Bruce knows his audience.

    Jason
     
  4. Aaron Silverman

    Aaron Silverman Executive Producer

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    Actually, considering the script and the budget, he probably did as good a job as was possible. Guerrilla filmmaking 101! [​IMG]
     
  5. TheLongshot

    TheLongshot Producer

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    I'm not saying he didn't. I'm just saying that film executives are probably not going to fall over themselves to pick Bruce to do their films. As I said, everyone has to start somewhere.

    Jason
     
  6. David_Blackwell

    David_Blackwell Screenwriter

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    Bruce did do a comic book version of this movie (for Dark Horse Comics) which showed what he wanted to do if he had a decent budget to film this movie.
     
  7. Ian_H

    Ian_H Supporting Actor

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    Just a heads up if it hasn't already been mentioned, there is an exclusive version I bought at Best Buy today that has a different UPC code and has a bonus featurette called "Bruce, Brains and Bulgaria. Kind of ticks me off with these Best Buy exclusives.

    --Ian
     
  8. Aaron Silverman

    Aaron Silverman Executive Producer

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    Thanks for the info, Ian. Please let us know if it's any good!
     
  9. Ian_H

    Ian_H Supporting Actor

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    The "featurette" is about 7 1/2 minutes of video cam footage of Bruce directing various scenes. It is actually better than the standard "Behind the Scenes" montage that is on all the discs. The sound is just the sound from the set and not that music that plays through out the "Behind the Scenes" clip. Bruce also does some mugging for the camera as well. This should have been the standard. As I said earlier I really despise the unannounced Best Buy exclusives. I don't really understand why they don't advertise the exclusives. I almost ordered it from DDD because of thier sale and I just didn't get around to it. BB had it for the same price so I grabbed it.


    --Ian
     
  10. Vincent-P

    Vincent-P Second Unit

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    Best Buy did advertise their exclusive. It was on their website and in the weekly ad.
     
  11. Kevin M

    Kevin M Producer

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    Alien Apocalypse truly was crap......but damn if Renée O'Connor didn't look good in those "planet of the apes" slacks. [​IMG]
     

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