Halloween Month Beginnings: Brain Damage
'Beginnings' is a section where we pick up a film at random and visually explore their starting scene.
Frank Henenlotter's punk freak-out horror is a metaphor - a rude, crude, in-your-face one - for addiction.
Over fake electric bursts, which last a while, we get the film's title.
The rest of the credit sequence is on ethnic African masks and ends, fittingly, on a map of human body.
From the above we PAN RIGHT to a door, seeing more human body maps on the way. The door opens and a tired-looking man enters.
He bolts the door and apparently hearing this, an excited woman joins him. She wants to know it he "got it".
He proudly takes out a package that the excited woman carries with herself to the kitchen. They have a shouted conversation where the woman suggests that they should go back to their old French butcher (THIS SHOULD BE A WARNING TO THE VEGANS READING THIS). The man says that he asks too many questions.
The woman opens up the package and is delighted to see the contents: BRAINS!
She sets up a plate. Presentation matters!
She enters the bathroom... Somehow this is even more disturbing. In the background, one can see the same wall that we saw during the credit sequence. As she brings her offering forward, she is shocked at a discovery and belts out a scream!
The place falls to the floor. Don't you just hate when you see good food go to waste? The man joins her and is equally perturbed to see what shocked her.
An empty bathtub.
This the first scene of Brain Damage, recently voted #90 Best Horror Film out of 100 Best Horror Films of All Time on Slant.
Director sets the tone perfectly with equal doses of black humor and anticipation. The punch line of an empty bathtub hits home because of the loving close-ups of the brains. Somehow you expect to see something even worse. It is a simultaneous diffusion of tension as the audience lets out nervous laughter. They are safe. For now.