Horror Movie Review: Brain Dead (1990)

Brain Dead, not to be confused with Braindead (1992) is a horror film directed by Adam Simon, releasing in 1990.

Dr. Rex Martin (Bill Pullman) is a top neurosurgeon, who is active in studying brain malfunctions that cause mental illnesses. High school friend Jim Reston shows up at Rex’s office. He requires Martin’s aid in reaching the mind of John Halsey, a former genius mathematician who once worked for the Eunice company and is now a paranoid psychotic at a nearby asylum. Halsey destroyed his results before losing his mind and is thought to be faking his disorder to keep it out of the hands of his employer. Dr. Martin meets with Halsey and convinces him to go through his tests and it’s revealed that he is indeed paranoid.

Jim Reston attempts to convince Martin to operate on Halsey to no real avail, revealing that Martin’s work is already being funded by Eunice in the first place, so he’ll have more leeway to operate on Halsey. Dr. Martin’s surgery is intended to successfully alter the patient’s mental attitude, either unlocking the corporate secrets within Halsey’s brain or else leaving Halsey unable to accidentally share them with anyone else. However, after leaving his meeting with Reston, Martin is carrying a jarred brain home from the office, when a homeless man attacks him, convinced he’s carrying his brain. In the struggle, Martin loses his grip on the brain, causing it to fly through the air. At the same moment, he’s run over by a car.Buy Me a Coffee at ko-fi.com

From this point on, Dr. Martin plunges into a chaotic nightmare in which he will be forced to confront and question everything he understands about reality.

Brain Dead is what I like to call, a mind fuck. Now, I mean that in the best way possible because it’s really bloody good. I want to just give a special mention to Bill Pullman who in my mind, is a hugely underrated horror actor. Check out his filmography, he’s done a number of great ones and always delivers with his performances. I just don’t see his name mentioned amongst other iconic horror actors when he’s done more than some that are regularly talked about. Then, there’s Bill Paxton who’s always a delight.

This is a film that places its protagonist in an extreme state of paranoia. It really makes you question everything that Rex is experiencing and makes you wonder what you might do in such a situation.

The story can get quite complicated at times but I found it well paced and easy to follow. It’s the type of narrative that could feel convoluted but it’s actually executed really well and feels cohesive. It quite reminded me of the film “Shutter Island” in a bunch of ways.

Additionally, the effects throughout are excellent. There’s a lot of gory effects involving brains which always makes my own brain feel a bit funny. For my money, it all looked realistic.

Overall, Brain Dead is another massively underappreciated horror film. It’s a fantastic delve into the inner psyche and perception of the human mind.


  • Liam Fisher

    Owner/Editor/Writer/YouTuber - Typical 90s-00s kid; raised on Pokémon, Final Fantasy & the Attitude Era. In fact, that makes up about 99% of my personality. The remaining 1% is dedicated to my inner rage for people who still don’t understand the ending of Lost or those that enjoyed the Game of Thrones final season. Find me on GBHBL where I’ll most likely be reviewing horror movies or games. Also, see me on our YouTube channel!

Brain Dead
  • The Final Score - 8.5/10
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