Brilliant surgeon Bill Cortner (Jason Evers) is obsessed with transplant surgery, believing he can successfully transplant whole body parts given enough opportunity. After saving the life of a patient his surgeon father has given up on, he is called out to his remote mansion, which houses his personal laboratory. But his reckless driving leads to a tragic accident, and his fiancée (Virginia Leith) is decapitated. Grabbing the severed head, the distraught doctor knows only he can save her - where can he find her a new body before time runs out?
This sickly, "science gone bad" horror was written by the director Joseph Green and became notorious in the annals of bad movie history for its ridiculous yet queasy goings-on. The film's most famous image is that of the bandaged head, sitting in a tray of the special serum the doctor has devised, hooked up to wires and various paraphernalia, begging to be left to die or hissing threats about its newfound psychic powers. It's an outrageous science fiction set up that sits uneasily with the sleazy nature of the rest of the film.
The doctor is first shown to be driven by his need to save lives, and you think you're going to get the usual "there were some things man was not meant to know" business when his experiments turn against him. While there's a definite element of that in the story, what is stronger is the tale of a man sinking into the depths of sexual mania as he scouts around for the right body. He visits strippers, a beauty contest, indulges in a spot of kerb crawling, and finally visits an artist's model who has a scar on her face. Obviously the doctor's would-be victims can't be seen with him, which leads to unintentional hilarity when his plans are foiled time and time again.
The impression is that the doctor needs to have his experiments produce successful results far more than merely saving the life of his fiancée. His assistant suffers from a withered arm due to a failed transplant operation, and in his cupboard there is, conveniently for the denoument, a monster stitched together from amputated body parts (very big amputated body parts). So, for those with a sick sense of humour, there is the rib-tickling sight of the monster tearing off the assistant's good arm while under the command of the psychic head. Combine all this with weird, pretentious dialogue and you get a mess that's memorable for all the wrong reasons. Ahead of its time? Or a head of its time? You be the judge.
American director who only made two films in his career, 24 years apart. The Brain That Wouldn’t Die was a trashy horror, while 1986’s comedy The Perils of P.K. included Sammy Davis Jr’s last ever film appearance.