Man With the Screaming Brain

Review in one word: Don’t.



I am a huge Bruce Campbell fan, but even I will admit that without a good director (like he had in the Evil Deads or in Bubba Ho-Tep) his movies are purely guilty pleasures (Mindwarp being especially high up on that list). And for his newest film, old Bruce may have met one of his worst directors of all: Mr. Bruce Campbell.

Man with the Screaming Brain is a movie that Bruce wrote directed and starred in, and has been trying to make for years. Sound promising? The promise ends there. He was finally able to make it… as a Sci-Fi original, a title it wholly lives up to. I wasn’t expecting much, and I got even less. Bruce himself, having directed a few episodes of the series, likened the making of the film to shooting two episodes of Xena: Warrior Princess back to back. Hmm…

For budget reasons the setting of the movie was changed from L.A. toBulgaria. The resulting communism vs. capitalism script changes are some of the only interesting dialogue, and the only discernable theme. The “character development” section at the beginning must be about a half an hour long (read: no monsters or gore), and when the action does start up the effects are groan inducingly bad. And don’t try to tell me “it’s supposed to be funny like that”, because I know what good bad is. This is bad bad. I think their art department was a bunch of people Troma rejected.

And then there’s the littlest Raimi, Ted. He plays a Bulgarian henchman in the movie. Ted made the decision that his character was obsessed with American culture. So at certain points in the movie we have American actor Ted Raimi playing a Bulgarian doing an American accent saying things like “For schizzle my nizzle.” As someone I was watching the movie with put it, he “managed to be more annoying than Ernest.” At least hating Ted Raimi gives you something to do while you’re waiting for the movie to be over.

I have at least an inkling of how hard it is to make a movie, but I can’t help but feel that Bruce Campbell is more intelligent than this.



Story: 6 Acting: 2 Direction: 2 Visuals: 3 Sound: 3 Music: 6 (Joe LoDuca!) Editing: 1 Chins: 9 Moral: Bulgarian hotel maids can kill whoever they want.


But, there is a good side to all of this:

From Bruce’s official website: “I’m calling the comic a “director’s cut,” mainly because it doesn’t cost you more to set the scene at the edge of a cool cliff, or at night like it does in movies. The comic is closer to what the original intent was – dark and noir-like.”

The comic book adaptation (scripted by Campbell himself) is good. It’s basically the same story but more coherent. The artist is Rick Remender, who I remember from doing some lame stuff for Fat Wreck Chords a few years back. He gives the comic the perfect EC Comics feel. He draws great characters, way better then the lame-ass actors in the movie. The comic is three things the movie wasn’t: funny, cool, and entertaining.

The series isn’t much more than a single issue of Tales from the Crypt, stretched out to four issues. But it’s a great issue.

There’s a different artist for the variant cover in each issue and Mike Mignola does one, but it’s probably the worst one of the four.



Story: 7 Art: 7 Moral: Comics are like, totally way better than movies.

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