The Man With The Screaming Brain (2005)

“Ride of the Valkyries” plays every time I see this image.

Heather’s Rating: I paid .25 for this movie and it was worth most of the pennies.

Heather’s Review: I discovered this film sometime around 2017, when I was milling around my local DVD rental store (I no longer live in the area, so I go to their website when I’m feeling nostalgic). They usually had a few boxes of ultra-cheap DVDs and VHS tapes for sale in the back corner, so one fateful day I was rummaging through them and ran across this Bruce Campbell flick with an old sci-fi/horror-esque title.

“It’s probably not a great sign that you’ve never heard of this film”, I told myself. “Yeah, but maybe it’s a hidden gem. It’s never been opened…the owner didn’t even give it a chance” I continued to argue in my head, alone in the corner of the store. At the time I didn’t realize how coincidental it was that I was having an internal argument over this movie that, I would discover later, heavily features this in its plot. I am now, though. Feels weird.

Speaking of weird, let’s go over The Man with the Screaming Brain’s premise:

Bruce Campbell plays an American businessman named William travelling with his wife Jackie (Antoinette Byron) to Bulgaria for business reasons. He’s the stereotypical rich jerk who’s upset that few people speak English and his American sensibilities aren’t catered to; she’s his bored, unfulfilled partner who has given up having any sort of meaningful relationship with him. There’s a lot going on in this film, so stick with me while I drop kick you through the plot points: While on the longest cab ride in the world, their former-KGB cabby Yegor gets them stuck in the bad part of town and has to defeat a few thugs who corner them. This stirs things up in the before now woefully-unstirred Jackie. Oblivious to her rampant flirting with Yegor, William purchases a ring from him to give to Jackie later and then leaves her with him so that she can have a guide while he goes to do business things. Yegor and Jackie do exactly what you expect. We’re just getting started, so grab a drink and a snack.

William gets back to the hotel and gets caught by Jackie when he kisses their hotel maid Tatoya. Jackie reads him the riot act and runs off. William chases after the maid, realizing she stole his money and the ring (which it turns out she had given to Yegor back when they dated). When William catches up with her she smashes him with a pipe to the back of the head and then kills Yegor, who witnessed this, with his own gun.

William is hospitalized, suffering such severe brain damage that he’ll likely never come out of his coma. Jackie decides to pull the plug on him and, enraged, goes to pull Tatoya’s plug so to speak. She fails spectacularly, getting herself staircase-killed for her trouble.

Ted Raimi is in this because of course he is, playing the incredibly dimwitted assistant (Pavel) to a mad scientist (Dr. Ivanov) who takes freshly-dead cadavers and does brain experiments on them. They get hold of Yegor and William’s bodies, replace the damaged parts of William’s brain with the undamaged parts of Yegor’s brain to make one whole. It is, as Raimi says in Pavel’s awful Russian accent, “Like Lincoln Logs”. Now the two men have to share one body to get revenge.

Shenanigans ensue as William fights for control over body and mind, turning simple events like ordering in a restaurant into the kind of slapstick fight that Campbell’s known for. If you’re a huge fan of that scene in Army of Darkness where Ash battles tiny versions of himself (or in Evil Dead 2 where he battles his hand), you’ll have a pretty good time with this portion of the film.

So much more happens in the remaining screen time that it’s like someone stuck you on one of those rollercoaster rides that mimics a rocket by blasting you forward, throwing you for one loop (as rockets do?), then careens back to the station in a matter of about 45 seconds. It had a couple of interesting twists, and I don’t hate the film, but I probably won’t watch it again in its entirety any time soon.

It is, however, at least worth one watch if you’re trying to punch your Bruce Campbell Bingo card.

Groovey Quotes:

Dr Ivanov: The right side of your brain was severely damaged. We used donor tissue, also from the right side of the cerebrum, and combined the two portions.

William: Who said that?
Yegor: I wish I could tell you.
William: Where are you?
Yegor: Where do you think?

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  1. I have not heard of this one. There are quite a few Bruce movies I haven’t seen as it turns out. I finally got around to watching “My Name is Bruce”. Silly silly…

    • True. Still, I think the same comparison would work for when Ash’s evil hand beats him up with the contents of a kitchen, which is in Evil Dead 2.

    • Dangit that slipped by. I initially waffled back and forth between comparing the scene to one film or the other. When I finally decided, I’d changed it so many times I didn’t realize I had Frankensteined the two together (heh). I’ll just stick both in there since they each have such a similarly slapstick scene.

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