Our bodies are capable of adjusting in ways we’ve hardly dreamt of.
Dr. Bill Cortner (Jason Evers) is a surgeon who has been doing experimental transplant surgery on animals without authorization. His biggest critic is his father. When Dr. Cortner saves a patient who was pronounced dead using his unorthodox methods his father condemns his theories.
While driving to his country home with his fiancé, Dr. Cortner and Jan Compton (Virginia Leith) have a car accident. Jan is decapitated. Cortner recovers her severed head and brings it to his country home’s basement laboratory. With the help of his crippled assistant Kurt (Anthony La Penna) the doctors revives her head and keeps it alive in a tray filled with the doctor’s special adreno-serum. Jan is none to happy about being just a head. She begs Cortner to let her die.
Cortner, by now basically insane, believes that he can only keep the head alive for a limited period of time. He believes he can transplant Jan’s head onto another body. The only problem is that he needs a body to do that. His idea is to scour the burlesque nightclubs and beauty pageants looking for someone with a body he likes. Eventually Dr. Cortner finds one. A former girlfriend who is house bound due to a tragic accident that left her disfigured. Cortner promises her that he can fix her face.
While he is away Jan finds out that the doctor has a failed experiment hidden in a cell behind an oaken door. The experiment is a crazed violent mutant. Jan realizes that she can communicate with the creature telepathically. It has something to do with the chemicals that are used to keep her head alive. She can communicate with anyone or any thing that has also been exposed to the adreno-serum. As an act of revenge Jan uses the mutant behind the oak door to do her bidding. And what she wants it to do is not nice.
“The Brain That Wouldn’t Die”, lovingly referred to as “Jan in the pan”, was made in 1959 but not released until 1962. It’s also known as “The Head That Wouldn’t Die”. Although it is not the first disembodied head movie, it is probably the most well known. Although there is much camp there are also a couple rather gory scenes. The monster behind the door is well done. Basically a Frankenstein’s monster brought back to life by his adreno-serum instead of electricity. As for Kurt, he is more philosopher than doctor. I suppose loosing am arm and being experimented on will do that to you.
There is only so much “story” you can have when your main character is a head on a plate. A good chunk of the movie is a parade of sexy women. Enough to keep the male population interested in the movie. In the International release there is a nude scene where the photographers are taking pictures of a model. The American release has the model in a bathing suit. A lot of the releases include the International scene as an extra.
Clip with nude scene