Bruce Campbell …. William Cole
Ted Raimi …. Pavel
Antoinette Byron …. Jackie
Tamara Gorski …. Tatoya
Remington Franklin …. Gypsy Punk and Euro Thug
Stacy Keach …. Dr. Ivan Ivanovich Ivanov
Vladimir Kolev …. Yegor
Previously, Bruce Campbell has starred in some of the best Cult movies of all time. 1981’s Evil Dead was a surprise hit considering its extremely low budget. Even though the film has a strong following, it would be even more popular if it wasn’t totally outdone by its sequel, Evil Dead 2: Dead by Dawn. Both films worked due to both the spirited low budget film making of Director Sam Raimi and the odd charisma of Campbell as Ash, the films’ hero. Campbell has a wonderful talent for broad comedy which really comes to the forefront in Dead by Dawn and in the series third production, Army of Darkness. Campbell’s best performance may actually be in Don Coscarelli’s Bubba Ho-tep, where he played a retired Elvis living his last days out in a nursing home, and having to fight a mummy. Despite the ridiculous plot, Campbell gives The King a poignancy Elvis had never had on screen before.
For those looking for of the same awesomeness in Bruce Campbell’s Man with the Screaming Brain, look elsewhere. The film is an amateurish attempt at a Horror/Comedy which isn’t scary or funny. Campbell plays William Cole, a selfish, womanizing billionaire in Bulgaria for a week to close a land deal. Cole has a failing marriage to Antoinette Byron’s Jackie, a kept woman who wants to be rid of Cole once and for all.
Things go horribly wrong for Cole when he runs into Tatoya (Tamara Gorski), a psychopathic gypsy who wants nothing to do with Cole except rob him, but then ends up killing him when he finds out about her true intentions. Tatoya also ends up killing her former lover Yegor (Vladimir Kolev), who Cole had been paying to be his driver while he was in town.
This is all setup for Stacy Keach’s Dr. Ivan Ivanovich Ivanov. Ivanov has come up with a formula that allows for body parts to be transplanted without rejection. In the separate murders Cole and Yegor each have different halves of their brain still intact, so Ivanov combines the two, using Cole’s body for a vessel.
The entire movie is a Frankenstein analogy, but that doesn’t make it any better. The movie originally aired on the Sci-Fi Channel and even for a cable movie this looks pretty cheap. The film was even moved to Bulgaria from Los Angeles so the movie could be made at bargain basement prices.
Campbell does what he can to salvage the project. His usual hammy acting and broad comedy make their appearances here, but it’s not enough to overcome the film’s shortcomings. Unfortunately, many of the problems of the film still lie with Campbell himself as he wrote and directed the film.
The film isn’t even in the “so bad its good’ category. Most characters who supposed to be native Bulgarians just speak in English with Slavic accents. The worst offenders here are Stacy Keach and Ted Raimi as his assistant Pavel as the too ham it up, but don’t have any clever lines or situations that are goofy enough to be remotely entertaining.
In the end, you’re left with a bad TV movie that got a little more recognition due to the cult following of its star. Campbell, Raimi, and Keach have all done much better work. Heck, Raimi and Campbell are both hilarious in their Spiderman cameos, but there’s no spark of that humor here.
Perhaps with a bigger budget this film could have been another Cult hit for Campbell, but as is Man with the Screaming Brain just falls flat. Bruce Campbell may be one of the best B-movie actors in the world, but his work on Xena was much better than this. For a guy that’s been in a lot of movies that could not be considered “good” by any stretch of the imagination (i.e. Congo, McHale’s Navy), Man with the Screaming Brain represents a new all time low.
For a TV movie, this looks alright. There doesn’t seem any way that a person could mistake Man with the Screaming Brain for a theatrically released film at all, but the picture itself is very clear. The film is presented in an Anamorphic Widescreen with an aspect ratio of 1.77:1.
The Audio is presented in a Dolby digital 5.1 and sounds pretty good. There isn’t anything spectacular sound wise, but for TV movie its sounds fine.
SPECIAL FEATURES:Audio Commentary, Brain Surgeons: Making The Screaming Brain, Neurology 101: Evolution Of The Screaming Brain, Behind-The-Scenes, Storyboard Gallery, Comic Book Art Gallery.
Audio Commentary with Actor/Director Bruce Campbell and Producer David M. Goodman. – This is a pretty good commentary as Campbell and Producer David M. Goodman have been working on trying to get this project off the ground for two decades. Unfortunately, when Man with the Screaming Brain finally came to screens it was in this form. Campbell goes through how difficult the film was to produce in a Bulgaria as crews there had no idea what he was saying. Also Campbell goes into detail how Sci-Fi Channel really limited what could really go on screen.
Brain Surgeons: Making The Screaming Brain – This is a pretty nice Featurette on the production of the movie. Campbell again goes in depth on the problems with working in Bulgaria. Producer David M. Goodman talks a lot about how the project started right after the production of the first Evil Dead, but just couldn’t get off the ground.
Neurology 101: Evolution Of The Screaming Brain – This is actually a pretty funny Featurette on the storied history of this project. Campbell and Goodman go through what the arduous task getting financing. One story has the duo going to an investor they call Jabba the Hut. The experience was this Fellini-esque moment in their lives where they were met at the door by a little person only to be moved to the man’s office and find out he was this gigantic blob. There are like twenty similar anecdotes in this feature.
Behind-The-Scenes – This is just a lot of random footage of the production.
Storyboard Gallery – This a pretty big collection of storyboards.
Comic Book Art Gallery – Oddly enough the Comic Book of this film seems a bit more entertaining than the movie was.