HMM Day 14 – Brain Damage

Something is wrong with my friend Brian and I need your help. He’s acting real weird and not being his usual self. He keeps talking about his friend named Aylmer and from what I can gather, Aylmer is not a good guy. Last time I saw Brian he was running through a junk yard and talking about seeing all the lights. I think… I think Brian is on drugs and it’s all the Aylmer ass holes fault! I hate drugs and I hate what they do to people. Brian is so weak and pathetic. How could he do drugs! I’m sick and tired of trying to be a good friend. I’ve pleaded to him numerous times but now what is needed is a good ass kicking! So this is what I’m gonna do.

Later tonight, when Brian comes home from whatever bull shit he’s been doing, I am going to corner him! Maybe rough him up for a while and force him to come clean with his addiction. It will be fine, what can a druggie like him do to me anyways? And if this Aylmer guy is there with him, then I will have to kick his little tail all over! He’s probably a little pansy worm of a guy! Aylmer is going down and I am getting my friend back!

Brain Damage is a 1988 B horror film directed by exploitation movie maker Frank Henenlotter. It stars Rick Hearst, Jennifer Lowry, Theo Barnes and John Zacherle as the voice of Aylmer. The film was generally looked over (as most Henenlotter films were) but in recent years has gained a cult following for its comical yet effective approach to drug abuse in America.

The Story

One morning, poor Brian wakes up and discovers blood all over his bed and feeling a euphoric high. He then discovers that a parasitic worm that talks with a smooth dub has taken residence on his body! The creatures name is Aylmer and as long as Brian gives him brains to eat, then Brian will continue getting high! This monstrous relationship sends poor Brian down a dark and dusty road that puts everyone he knows in grave danger!

Drugs Are Bad… Mkay?

I remember being a young kid in the eighties and then my teen years in the nineties. That my friends, is what I call having your cake and eating it too. I had the glorious life of experiencing eighties toys like He-Man, My Pet Monster and Teddy Ruxpin. Mr. Yuck stickers were aplenty and I vividly remember kick ass McDonalds commercials where Ronald played basketball against a bunch of McNuggets.

But then, I got to experience the insane rebellious time of nineties! Beavis and Butt-head were king and a resurgence of crappy Beetles music drove me insane. I wore a chain on my wallet and wished Chris Farley could be my older brother. If you’re like me and grew up in the same fashion then you can remember sitting in your school classes and learning about certain important topics. One of them was drugs. Now I never got into drugs. I guess I should be proud of that but really all I feel is apathy. It just never appealed to me. I guess that makes me a pussy… I don’t know. But the entire approach of drugs and staying away from them was something I found so cringe. Kind of like Christian rock trying to make Jesus cool or something.

But then we had classes about drugs. This was the worst. You would go to the gymnasium or theater and watch this performance from a group of virgin theater people doing short skits about saying no to drugs or drugs aren’t cool. Imagine going to college for four years as a major in theater to become a traveling acting anti-drug advocate? Talk about a reason for a bullet to the brain.

Even worse, a cop would come to your school and you had to do DARE. It stood for Drug Abuse Resistance Education. The cop passed around weed so we could smell it, making me aware of what my out of work white trash neighbors were smoking at night. But the entire anti-drug thing was a waste of time. Imagine taking drug advice from Pee Wee Herman! It’s not drugs he should be warning kids about, it should be how Pee Wee wants to fuck them!

Yea, the guy is a pedophile and it represents everything screwy about the anti-drug message. Listen I get it, the way to stop drugs was a tough thing to grasp. The war on drugs obviously was a reactionary approach but one I think most people would take. It’s only through time that we’ve come to understanding and real answers to the entire miserable thing. But the delivery of not using drugs… this shit didn’t make kids stay away from drugs. It made them want to do drugs.

Now, if instead of terrible school programs, boring cops or Pee Wee Herman… why couldn’t they just show us the movie Brain Damage? I mean, for starters apart from being a basic message about drug abuse and the perils of it, it is also an awesome movie with some pretty good horror elements. Sure it’s comical, Aylmer is this blueish shit slug with these looney tune eyes and smooth talking demeanor.

He injects some tongue syringe in Brian’s neck and man, does it take effect. Brian’s goes on these trippy highs where he’s sees all these colors like life suddenly turned into a giallo film.

But Aylmer is still a monster so he wants something in return and what he wants are human brains! I think that’s a fair trade, Aylmer gives you his juice and all you have to do is give him a new victim. Boy does Aylmer get his victims. He strikes out on people and attacks with hostile intent. You have to appreciate the Henenlotter style of violence and gore. Supposedly there is a scene in this movie that is so outrageous that workers on the set had to walk out during its filming. Let me just say it has to do with a lady, Aylmer and her mouth.

Sooner or later Brian starts trying to fight Aylmer and honestly, this is where the movie stands out as more than just a comedy horror. We see how the addiction of Aylmer’s juice is so intense that it sends disturbing images into Brian’s mind. It literally starts driving him insane. I know this is comical but it’s more sad than anything.

Brain Damage isn’t your conventional horror movie. Everything is grungy and raw in that Henenlotter style. It’s not afraid to hit you in the gut with what it wants to do. Which is the purpose of exploitation films. Aylmer may be a funny looking monster and a horror hound will feel fulfilled with the gore and atmosphere. The tone of the film is that like Basket Case, a slummy back alley and late night living. It should take you out of your comfort zone while you sit there in your pristine home and leather couch.

Brain Damage will make you laugh at small things and especially one awesome cameo of Duane Bradley from Basket Case. This one of my favorite cross overs in all horror cinema. Brian and his girl friend are sitting on a subway and Duane just pops up out of nowhere. He’s holding his large wicker basket and doesn’t say a word! The camera pans down to the lock on basket and if you’re a horror fan, you’re going  ape shit because this is awesome! Obviously Belial is in there! Probably eating bologna and dreaming of nice round boobs.

I absolutely love this movie and enjoy the soft tones and insane story. As evil and monstrous as Aylmer is, he’s a charming smooth criminal. John Zacherle was never credited for the voice but is the true star of the movie. The movie will make you laugh for it’s cheese but keep you interested and wanting more gore. It’s in its comedy that I think a person can find understanding to a widespread issue. From what I can determine, this gives a pretty honest idea of what being on hard drugs is like. It leaves me to wonder if the junkyard scene was shot without much exaggeration or creative liberties. As the for the ending it is very open ended and is up for interpretation. In my opinion we see a clear minded Brian, enlightened and free of both Aylmer and social strife. Either way, it’s enough to make a kid never do drugs! Stay away from Aylmer and keep yourself clean folks!

So check out 1988’s Brain Damage. It’s a movie you can appreciate as a basic funny monster movie but also one with a clear message of something that still haunts us all today. It’s trashy, hard core and a perfect movie for my Horror Movie Marathon!

Thanks for reading!

If you want to see other older day fourteen posts from past marathons, then these out below.

Also, if you’re new to this marathon and would like catch up on the other posts before this, then check out these posts below.

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