Someone more cynical than me might look at Bruce Campbell’s ‘Man with the Screaming Brain’ as a vanity project, even a desperate attempt to prove that the success of the Evil Dead films wasn’t all due to Sam Raimi.
If that was the case… it failed. Dismally. If Bruce wasn’t attached to it this would be a mere B Movie Haiku review.
Having said that I do still love Bruce Campbell.
I have a signed framed Army of Darkness poster on my wall and I own both of his books – one of which is a good read. I tracked down almost every film that he has appeared in over the years and gave it a look, often with a more forgiving eye simply because he was in it. I was the type of guy who saw Congo and leaned to my date and whispered “Hey that’s Bruce Campbell!”, while said date actively started looking for the nearest exit.
I even rented both of his 90s TV shows Jack of All Trades (silly fun) and The Adventures of Brisco County Jr (pretty good but too weird to ever find an audience). But I must draw the line at this. Man with the Screaming Brain has B all over it, but not ‘creative B’, not even ‘good try B’, just ‘well that was a crap movie B’.
Sorry Bruce, when the only mildly amusing thing in 90 minutes is Ivan Raimi as a wannabe streetwise hip-hoppin’ Red Bull drinkin’ scientist’s assistant, these are just the facts.
When an ill advised trip to Bulgaria leaves ‘ugly America’ businessman William Cole (Campbell) dead due to horrible brain damage suffered when he unwittingly comes between a psycho gypsy and her swarthy local cabbie ex, who ends up dead alongside Cole. When Cole’s wife seeks revenge and steps to the crazed gypsy she ends up in the same state.
But never fear, all is not lost. A scientist and his afore-mentioned ‘fly’ assistant manage to reanimate Cole’s corpse, using a grafting process that allows him to utilize functioning brain matter from another donor.
The problem is that the donor was the tough dead cabbie, a further development comes when we learn that even in death he wasn’t finished using those bits of brain.
So Cole and cabbie battle for a while in the same garishly and clumsily stitched together head, gallivanting through Bulgaria arguing and wrestling over control of Cole’s body, which they essentially control half of each.
It is all essentially an excuse for Bruce Campbell to indulge in his famed physical brand of solo acting that is revered and admired by fans of the Evil Dead, but fails to earn the same chuckles when stuck in the confines of this weary joke and action free plot.Some lunatic elements don’t help and the ‘Three Stoogery’ only serves to highlight how sad it all is that Raimi is the standout.
I recently attended a sporting event when I ran into an extremely drunk friend who slurringly told me that the game was quite ‘indispired’, which I took as an approximation of ‘uninteresting’ and ‘uninspired’.
Given that I have taken the time to invent a new word I might dub Man with the Screaming Brain as the most indispired film I have seen in the last week. (Let’s face it I watch a lot of shitty films. Wont be long before I watch one even more indispired…)
Final Rating – 5 / 10. A low budget All of Me with aspirations of cult movie status. This isn’t the movie that has the conventions requesting your attendance Bruce.