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Brain Damage (1988) – Episode 158 – Decades of Horror 1980s

“…  when it comes to blood in my underwear, I want to know how it got there.” There are some things that do not need to be said. Join your faithful Grue Crew – Bill Mulligan, Chad Hunt, Crystal Cleveland, and Jeff Mohr –  as they investigate the effects of high-energy drug abuse in Frank Henenlotter’s Brain Damage (1988).

Decades of Horror 1980s
Episode 158 – Brain Damage (1988)

One morning, a young man wakes to find that a small, disgusting creature has attached itself to the base of his brain stem. The creature gives him a euphoric state of happiness but demands human victims in return.


If ever there was a commercial, feature-length film that could serve as a PSA for the War on Drugs, it’s Brain Damage. Your 1980s Grue-Crew marvel at the imagination of writer/director Frank Henenlotter and the images that sprout from his brain and are transformed to film. The combination of special effects used to depict Elmer is impressive and John Zacherle’s voice tops off the creation perfectly. Now that an uncut version is available, it is pretty obvious why certain scenes were cut. Yes, Doc nixed the image of one of the cut scenes and rightly so, but your Grue-Crew describes the scene in eye-popping detail.

Each of the 1980s Grue-Crew recommends Brain Damage as a unique, hallucinatory cinematic trip. Currently, Brain Damage is available for streaming on Shudder as a stand-alone film and as an episode of The Last Drive-In with Joe Bob Briggs. You can also check it out as a Blu ray from Arrow.

Brain Damage is the third double-tap for Decades of Horror 1980s and you can check out the first time the film was covered on Decades of Horror 1980s Episode 113 featuring Thomas Mariani, The Black Saint, and The Black Saint’s daughter Mariana. You can also find a Review of Brain Damage on Gruesome Magazine written by Paul Cardullo.

Every two weeks, Gruesome Magazine’s Decades of Horror 1980s podcast will cover another horror film from the 1980s. In episode 159, the 80s Grue-Crew will go down into The Dead Pit (1989) with special guest Ed Martinez, the film’s special effects director. 

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Jeff Mohr
Jeff lives smack dab in the middle of the cornfields of Iowa and is a long-time horror fan. His first remembered encounters with the genre were The Wizard of Oz, Tarzan gorilla chases, and watching the first broadcast of The Twilight Zone episode, "An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge." While he now qualifies as an old fart, he strives to be an Old Boy. Paraphrasing Robert Bloch, he has the heart of a small boy. He keeps it in a jar on his desk. Jeff has written for and SQ Horror Magazine. He currently writes for Gruesome Magazine and is a co-host of the Decades of Horror podcasts - The Classic Era, 1970s, and 1980s - and the Gruesome Magazine Podcast.