When one discusses cinematic “body horror,” David Cronenberg is the acknowledged master of the genre. But what if there were a director who deserved the honor equally, even if his influences weren’t high intellectual muckity-mucks like Nabokov, Burroughs and Kenneth Anger, and instead ran more along the lines of EC horror comics, Tex Avery and Herschell Gordon Lewis?
Fortunately for us psychotronic film fans, there exists such a cracked genius — Frank Henenlotter, who over the past 30 years has managed to eke out six wonderful anything-goes blood and hysteria classics, all with practically nonexistent budgets. While he’s best known for the three Basket Case movies and the 1990 classic Frankenhooker, one of his very best and most often overlooked films, Brain Damage, is this weekend’s feature at the Cult Fiction Underground.
Ordinary schmoe Brian wakes to find a bright blue, lumpy phallic parasite attached to his neck, pumping him full of highly addictive hallucinogenic drugs. Said parasite soon introduces himself as “Elmer” (voiced by classic horror host Zacherle) and turns out to be quite the chatty fellow. Brian eventually discovers that to keep the good drugs a-flowin’ he needs to supply Elmer with fresh human brains for breakfast each day, and hilarity ensues.
As with all of Henenlotter’s films, there’s a little something extra going on beneath the surface of gore and laughs as the film touches on the obvious drug-addiction metaphor and quite a bit of sexual subtext. But none of this gets in the way of the baser pleasures of Brain Damage, just consider it extra seasoning on the buttered popcorn.
As always, admission is five bucks, and show times are 8 and 10 p.m., Friday and Saturday at the Cult Fiction Underground below Logue’s Black Raven Emporium at 2915 Gallatin Road.