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I will never understand the appeal of reality TV doctors.From the has-been clinics, that wizard of Oz spin off, to the radio personalities like long stay Dr.Laura. In my opinion, it is all incredibly fake. Not that fake is always a bad thing, quite the opposite when it comes to TV, but pretending to be a person of authority and handing out advice on some serious subjects is just irresponsible. It's hard to imagine that these shows could offer any real help and it hurts my brain to attempt to indulge any of it. One of the worst, in my book, is Dr.Phil. Everything about that guy says “don't trust me”. He looks like he managed a Walmart and he speaks mostly in vast generalization with a southern twang, yet there he is on the TV handing out potentially damaging advice to the masses. Somebody is watching that shit. Somebody somewhere is taking that guy’s folksie garbage and applying it to how they behave, or likely how they think their child should behave. To me that's scary as fuck. Mental health seems like a fucked up thing to trust in the hands of a next wave Maury Povich. I don't care if that shiny bastard has 10 degrees, I don't think psychology and therapy are the one size fits all type problems or effectively resolved with cute generalization. As I'm not an expert myself, you probably shouldn't take my word for it either. It could be my predisposition to distrust authority figures that sound almost like Fog Horn Leghorn, or the fact that pop psychologists are nothing new and the ones being that were prominent when I was young have all been disproven or discredited. It also could be that science fiction and horror have given me plenty of food for thought when it comes to mind control through the TV screen. For a good example, with bonus tentacles, we have a 1998 Canadian film- The Brain.
The film starts with a loving mother sitting down to enjoy the new hit self help phenomenon “Independent thinking” hosted by Dr. Blake. While she watches intently her daughter goes up stars to her bedroom for a little freak out time. After some life reflection in a mirror, and some unexpected bloody teddy bear tears, tentacles appear to bust through the walls on some touchy-feely shit. The girl screams, but before it can get really hentai like ,the tentacles disappear without a trace, and her mother runs up stairs to see what the fuck is going on. Her mom takes the opportunity regurgitate some of the good doctor’s babble before the suddenly tentacles reappear. In the ordeal the mom gets stabbed up, and the girl jumps to her death, doing her best impression of Gordon the dog from Friday the 13th part 4. After the title screen,we meet our main character Jim-the misunderstood bad boy. We know he is misunderstood because the adults keep saying it,but we only see him being a jerk and somehow taking all the fun out of blowing up a toilet. Because of his behavior the school recommends the popular “Independent Thinking” program, selling his parents on the idea with a creepy advertising video and an ultimatum involving graduation. With no choice Jim reports to the Psychological Research Institute. Just like in real life- the project is a front for a giant evil alien brain thing. Dr Blake and his associates attempt to affect jim, using a tv and some boobs, but he deludes their brainwashing techniques with his 80s bad boy aversion to authority. When he leaves, strange shit starts happening and the the institute of “independent thinkers” decides he is too dangerous to leave alive. Unfortunately for Jim, the whole town has been watching the doctor’s hit show and now are poised against him. It’s up to him alone (mostly) to take on the giant brain alien and stop the show from going nationwide.
The elements that make up the film are not unique. We have the well worn pod-people like human drones, TV brainwashing/thought control and aliens out for a generic takeover, but the The Brain plays it well with angst soaked humor. Even with the familiar tropes in full full force, the corny mess throws out random satirical points of insight into education, free thought and psychology. It ends up feeling like the back alley love child of Cronenberg’s Videodrome (1983) and Full Moon’s Bad Channels (1992) . You can tell that under all the terrible acting and uneven camera work, lays a pretty good script that,even in its realized form, keeps an entertaining and engaging pace. At its core, it is a tribute to older sci-fi flicks,and despite featuring a uncircumcised, extendo brain monster that sometimes bites people, its attempts at horror are at bulk contained to (almost purposely) unsuccessful Invasion of the Body Snatchers- style paranoia and overshadowed by the parodied 50s drive in feel
The effects themselves are great, and even feature a memorable transformation from tentacle brain in a fish-tank to goofy monster head thing, although the creature's design is a mostly a cartoon joke with googly eyes. It doesn't take away from the entertainment value (the opposite actually) but its final form is strangely reminiscent of the dick monsters that pop up in Troma films. There is a few juicy gore moments, a little nudity (more if you count penis creatures), and spoiled teenagers, all in 80s b-movie fashion with classic cheese filled grace.
The film is adorned with terrible acting. The biggest exclusion to that being ,of course, the inclusion of David Gale as the TV personality- Dr. Anthony Blakely. Gale is one of my favorite bad guys and is a perfect fit for alien pseudo-psychologist. His best villain will forever be Re-Animator’s talking head but this role is one of my favorites. Tom Bresnahan is our wooden main character, who either by accident or on purpose was written to be kind of a unlikable douchebag but it works. George Buza, aka the motherfucking wise voice of beast from the 90s X-Men Animated series, does well enough in his role channeling some kind of late-Orson Welles/Bela Lugosi hybrid.
The Brain is great piece of cornball trash with just a (tiny) hint of insight and satire, one that can laugh at itself just enough. It might even be a good flick to introduce a more mainstream viewer to crap-cinema. Who knows you-might even turn someone off of bad reality TV shows that dabble in the dangerously stupid, like Dr.Phil or his counterparts (as opposed to the entertainingly bad like this movie). If there is even a slight chance you could make that difference, I say- you owe it to the world.
(I couldn't find an English trailer but you the gist)
| 1988
 Director: Ed Hunt (as Edward Hunt)
Writer: Barry Pearson (screenplay) 


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