Wednesday, June 04, 2008

The Brain Machine

In this 1977 cheapie horror flick, a team of scientists are performing experiments on the minds of four volunteers. Someone has escaped from the facility with some files revealing that the experiments are illegal, and the conspiracy reaches into the heart of the American body politic. He is killed before he can reveal this information to the public, and the experiments continue. Our four volunteers are asked personal and probing questions, then they are locked a room together, sort of like B-Movie Big Brother, as the experiments continue. Each volunteer has a secret they're hiding, but the bigger secret is that someone else is running an experiment on the experimenters.
This is a ridulously slow and awful movie where almost nothing happens. It's mostly establishing shots and transitions. Really. It would not be very hard to edit this film down to about ten minutes and not really miss much. It's an 81 minute film, and I'd swear an hour of it is filler. Endless shots of buildings, of cars driving up, of people walking, of people answering the phone then passing it off, of people talking about the endless conspiracy behind the scenes that never affects anything. Remember the guy escaping with the file? It doesn't matter! He doesn't escape, he doesn't contact anyone, he doesn't pass on any information. It's an utterly pointless subplot that exists only to pad out an already overly padded out movie.
Frankly, I'm not even sure what the heck went on in this movie. It is hopelessly befuddled and idiotic.
It's a cast of mostly nobodies, but two of the volunteers are played by Gerald McRaney shortly before he found stardom on Simon and Simon (and before he lost his hair), and James Best, soon to be Sheriff Roscoe P. Coltrane on The Dukes of Hazzard. Best continues to act and his career has lasted almost 60 years and counting. And I'm sure that an uncredited William Sanderson (Blade Runner, Newhart) plays a guard in what must be his first movie role.
This film also goes under the names of Grey Matter and Mind Warp. One wonders why they never called it Brain Dead.

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