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Film / Brain Damage

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Brain Damage is the story of Brian (Rick Hurst), a young man who stumbles upon Aylmer (John Zacherle), an evil Muppet worm demon who offers him drug-endued bliss. The catch? While Brian's high, Aylmer burrows himself into the heads of those around them and literally eats their brains. While it takes Brian a while to notice he's being used as a vehicle for murder, he eventually begins trying to fight back. All the while, Aylmer's former "owners" take efforts to recover him and continue to pump the drug out of him.

It was directed by Frank Henenlotter, the guy who did Frankenhooker and Basket Case.

Brain Damage contains examples of:

  • Addled Addict:
    • The old woman who used to own Aylmer quickly slips into unstable incoherence as her withdrawal persists. When she gets Aylmer in her hands again, all she can do is repeat his name over and over in glee. Until he eats her brain.
    • Brian, under the influence, is clearly hyperactive and completely out of it. His life quickly begins to revolve around Aylmer, as well.
  • Affably Evil: Aylmer's a pretty chill guy. The most negative emotion we see him express is disappointment when Brian tries to go cold turkey, and mild contempt for his former keepers who kept him weak on animal brains while they drained him.
  • The Aggressive Drug Dealer: Aylmer sneaks up on Brian while he's asleep and injects him with an incredibly addictive substance in order to enslave him.
  • Armor-Piercing Question: Aylmer asks Brian why he brought the parasite along to the hotel with him if he didn't realize, deep down, that his attempt at detoxing was going to fail.
  • Ask a Stupid Question...: Re: The girl whose brains Aylmer ate.
    Brian: Is she dead!?
    Aylmer: (Cracking up) Well, of course she's dead! Ha, are you kidding?
  • Big "WHAT?!": Brian lets out one after Aylmer reveals that he ate the brains out of a girl they had met at a night club.
  • Brain Food: Aylmer feeds on other people's brains. He can subsist on animal brains, but this makes him physically weak.
  • Brainwashed and Crazy: Brian eventually becomes a reluctant-but-willing accomplice to Aylmer's murders in order to get more juice. While high, he's also quite suggestible to Aylmer's (mental?) commands.
  • The Cameo: Brian has a brief encounter with another possessor of a tiny evil puppet—Duane Bradley, from Henelotter's Basket Case films.
  • The Can Kicked Him: Aylmer takes one victim while he's on the toilet.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Aylmer's got quite a mouth on him...literally, of course, but he snarks a lot, too.
  • Despair Event Horizon: Brian visibly crosses when he returns home after his failed attempt to break away from Aylmer and hears his ex-girlfriend and brother making out and having sex. He just stares up at the ceiling and emotionlessly slaps Aylmer onto his back without even a sign of resistance.
  • Didn't See That Coming: Hardly anybody expects to get squeezed to death by someone whose brains they've mostly sucked out.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?:
    • Under the influence of Aylmer's fluid Brian is hyperactive as a deliberate reference to cocaine.
    • The Aylmer bears an intentional resemblance to an excited part of the male anatomy and there are several scenes wherein said resemblance is referenced.
  • Driven to Suicide: In the end, Brian tries to shoot himself in the head, but the intense overdose of Aylmer's fluid somehow keeps him from dying—in fact, the hole in his head explodes with light and he seems otherwise fine..
  • Dying Moment of Awesome: Just before he expires, the old man who used to own Aylmer grabs him and crushes the life out of him.
  • Evil Gloating: Partially in song form. As Brian lies strung-out on the floor, Aylmer starts singing "Elmer's Tune"— a song about how everyone's dancing to the titular character's, well, tune. And when Brian rises up and pleads with him for a fix, Aylmer cheerfully greets him and agrees, since they're pals. This case of gloating is fully justified as Aylmer told Brian he'd be giving in eventually.
  • Evil Sounds Deep: Aylmer, courtesy of the rich tones of John Zacherle.
  • Fan Disservice: Brian's a handsome young man in good shape. When he's pale, miserable, strung out and writhing on a filthy floor? Probably not as much, unless that's your thing.
  • Fantastic Drug: Aylmer gives this to Brian.
  • Gainax Ending: Aylmer's former keeper squeezes him to death while he's attached to Brian, giving him a ridiculous overdose of juice. Brian's brain is set afire with sparks and his skull starts bulging, and he tries to stop the pain by shooting himself. His brother rushes into the room and is horrified to see Brian, apparently awake and aware, with light and bursts of electricity flowing from the hole in his head. The End!
  • The Ghost: Brian's brother mentions calling their worried father about Brian's behavior.
  • Giver of Lame Names: Brian initially believes Aylmer is the victim of one, when confronted by Aylmer's ex-keeper.
    Brian: Elmer? You fucking named it Elmer?!
  • Going Cold Turkey: Brian attempts this towards the end of the film. It doesn't take. According to Aylmer, his fluid alters a person's body chemistry in a way that makes it impossible.
  • Horror Hunger: Aylmer's got a yen for brains.
  • Info Dump: A massive one, midway through the movie, as one of Aylmer's keepers recites the parasite's long, long history.
  • Kiss of Death: After Brian gives into Aylmer and tells his brother and ex-girlfriend to get away from him for their own sakes, his ex follows him onto the subway while he's high on Aylmer's juice. Aylmer (now in his throat), compels him to grab and kiss her, and during the process the worm gets into her head and eats her brains with their lips remaining locked. To everyone else on the subway, it just looks like a particularly involved French kiss.
  • Laser-Guided Amnesia: People high off Aylmer's juices don't remember what happened while they were buzzed. Hence, Brian doesn't remember the murders Aylmer committed.
  • Manipulative Bastard. Aylmer's been at it for hundreds of years, but then it doesn't take much to manipulate a junkie when you're the drug.
  • More Teeth than the Osmond Family: One wonders how the hell Aylmer fits the drug-pump in his mouth given the sheer volume of teeth he has.
  • Mushroom Samba: Pretty much every time Brian gets high has at least elements of this, but his first two hits are the most potent.
  • Mysterious Past: We don't know what Aylmer is or where he came from, and he never says. His known history stretches back to the Fourth Crusade or so.
  • Not Quite Dead: By the time Aylmer leaves his head, the old man looks as dead as any of his other victims. It turns out he's just alive enough to kill Aylmer and then die. Foreshadowed by Aylmer a few seconds earlier, when he said he was "not done yet" eating his brains after Brian told him it was time to leave.
  • Perpetual Smiler: Admittedly, that's how the puppet's designed, but from the mocking tone of his voice, it's clear Aylmer would have a terminal case of smug-face if he were a person.
  • People Puppets: Aylmer demonstrates the ability to control Brian while he's under the influence of his juice.
  • Really 700 Years Old: Aylmer's existence can be historically traced back to the Crusades, but that's only as far as is known.
  • Replacement Goldfish: It's a shame Brian dumped his girlfriend out of the blue during part of his pattern of unstable behavior, but hey, at least his brother was always interested in her!
  • Sexfor Solace: Brian's brother and his ex engage in this, not knowing that Brian can hear everything they're doing.
  • Shoo the Dog: After completely giving in to Aylmer, Brian tries to tell his ex-girlfriend and brother to get as far away from him as possible because they might get their brains eaten and he'd be too high to stop it, or even remember what happened. Shame his ex followed him instead of his advice..
  • Spell My Name with a "The": The old man who used to own him calls him "the" Aylmer, implying that there's only one of him. Hopefully.
  • Symbiotic Possession: Aylmer takes a host, gets them high and controls them while they're suggestible via what appears to be a psychic connection. After giving in to his addiction, Brian starts referring to himself and Aylmer as one entity.
  • Trapped in Villainy: After his attempt to break away from Aylmer fails, Brian gives up and resigns himself to being his slave and accomplice.
  • Villain Song: Aylmer appropriates "Elmer's Tune" to taunt Brian as he goes into withdrawal.
  • Vocal Dissonance: Aylmer is a foot long phallus shaped worm - with a rich, sultry baritone.
  • What Did I Do Last Night?: Well, Brian, the worm you were hiding in your clothes sucked out two peoples' brains while you were high.