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S E A R C H    D V D B e a v e r

(aka 'The Head That Wouldn't Die')

directed by Joseph Green
USA 1962

After a car crash, a man keeps his wife's head alive in his laboratory. I really have a soft spot for films like this. I wish I knew why. Maybe I find the sloppy and frugal production values endearing. The producers knew that they weren't making Citizen Kane... they were taking advantage of some props and sets that were laying around from a previous film and mish mashing it all together into a ridiculous horror film that eventually has attained quite a cult following. You have to respect the audacious boldness in both the film's name and some exploitive scenes within - one particularly contrived is the 'cat-fight' between the 2 trashy strippers (potential body parts for Dr. Cortner). Heck, its even hard to critique this film with a straight face. It's all fun and as campy a way to spend an evening as you will find in film-land. Cinema can be so bad sometimes that it is good! 

 Posters

Theatrical Release: November 1962 - USA

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Comparison:

Synapse Films (SE) -  Region 0 - NTSC vs. Shout! Factory - Region 'A' - Blu-ray

1) Synapse Films - Region 0 - NTSC - LEFT

2) Shout! Factory - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - RIGHT

 

Box Covers

 

Distribution Synapse Films - Region 0 - NTSC Shout! Factory
Region 'A' - Blu-ray
Runtime 1:22:15  1:22:33.949 
Video 1.30:1 Original Aspect Ratio (Picture Boxed)
Average Bitrate: 6.90 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s

1.66:1 - 1080P Dual-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size: 42,562,033,845 bytes

Feature: 20,530,274,304 bytes

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

Total Average Bitrate: 27.99 Mbps

NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.

Bitrate:

Bitrate Blu-ray:

Audio English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono) 

DTS-HD Master Audio English 1577 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1577 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)
Commentary:

DTS-HD Master Audio English 1644 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1644 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)

Subtitles None English , None
Features Release Information:
Studio: Image Entertainment / Synapse Films

Aspect Ratio:
Fullscreen - 1.30:1 (Picture boxed)

Edition Details:
• All regions.
• Color, Black & White, Widescreen
• Un-restored Theatrical trailer (1:55)
• The never-before-available-on-video, original uncut version containing almost 20 minutes of additional footage

 • 12 Behind the Scenes Photos (with nudity)

• Two page liner notes by Bryan Senn
 

DVD Release Date: July 25, 2000
Keep Case
Chapters: 16

Release Information:
Studio:
Shout! Factory

Aspect Ratio: 1.66:1

1.66:1 - 1080P Dual-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size: 42,562,033,845 bytes

Feature: 20,530,274,304 bytes

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

Total Average Bitrate: 27.99 Mbps

 

Edition Details:

• Audio Commentary with film historian and author Steve Haberman and writer Tony Sasso

• High Definition (1080p) transfer from the negative – restored to its uncut version (1.66:1)
• Mystery Science Theater 3000 episode – “The Brain That Wouldn’t Die” (in Standard Definition) (1:32:25)
• Alternate Scene from the International Cut (1:26)
• Theatrical Trailer (1:54)
• Still Gallery

 

Blu-ray Release Date: December 22nd, 2015
Standard
Blu-ray Case
Chapters: 8

 

Comments:

NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.

 

ADDITION: Shout! Factory - Region 'A' Blu-ray - January  2016': I don't While totally inferior to Donovan's Brain that came out almost a decade before, The Brain That Wouldn't Die has it place in cinema's history (perhaps for some of the wrong reasons residing in a very schlocky place - but still.) Shout! Factory do this up right with a widescreen (1.66:1) - referred to as the uncut version version - and you can see the results as compared to the 2000 DVD - which must have been open-matte. It appears as though we lose some superfluous information off the top, a sliver off the right side but actually gain a bit on the left edge. Framing is fine in the new 1080P with a few chopped heads (no pun intended) but it's of the 'who cares?' variety even for purists. The HD transfer looks quite good - dramatically sharper, superior contrast and even some desirable depth. You can see for yourself it's really no contest.

 

Shout! Factory use a DTS-HD Master 2.0 channel at 1577 kbps and it sounds surprisingly strong (note the echo effect in the strippers change room - also present on the DVD). So it's, presumably accurate in the lossless with effects rely on the theme music entitled 'The Web' by Abe Baker and Tony Restaino. It may be imperfect - thanks to the production limitations - but its sounds a heck of a lot cleaner and tighter than the SD. There are optional subtitles - in a small, gaudy, yellow font (see sample).

 

Extras are very appealing with an enjoyable audio commentary with film historian and author Steve Haberman and writer Tony Sasso filled with background information and interesting data. Also included the the Mystery Science Theater 3000 episode of “The Brain That Wouldn’t Die” in Standard Definition running over 1.5 hours. I was never a fan of these but I did watch quite a bit of it and had a few chuckles. There is an alternate scene from the International Cut with plenty of nudity (Miss Marilyn Hanold looking very buff), a theatrical trailer and still gallery.

 

An easy buy for those keen on this sub-sub genre of poorly-realized silver-era sci-fi's with a great titles (the alt-title, The Head That Wouldn't Die,  is seen in the end-text screen.) It's a unique piece of nostalgia-cum-schlock that impact on most that see it. It is perhaps more popular than if it was superior - under a less-exploitive title. The Shout! Factory Blu-ray offers a lot! - and it's one we can whole-heartedly recommend to any fans even remotely keen. Such fun.  

***

ON THE DVD: There are some poor transfers of this cult film floating around and I understand that this is the best. It's not too bad in spots. Some damage in the beginning, but I wouldn't be surprised if the DVD production costs more than producing the entire film. Audio is a little inconsistent and mono (original) but for the most part - clear. The Extras include a trailer, 2 page liner notes and some risqué behind-the-scenes stills. I could envision Criterion doing this up with some panache (not unlike their Fiend Without a Face ) as it is such a fine representation of the type of cultish-indie monster films that evolved out of the late 50's and 60's in Hollywood. I don't understand the picture-boxing, but who can get too picky considering the film? I think its a little bold calling it a "Special Edition'.

Gary W. Tooze


DVD Menus

 

Shout! Factory - Region 'A' - Blu-ray

 

 

 


CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE BELOW TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION

 

 

Subtitle Sample - Shout! Factory - Region 'A' - Blu-ray

 

 

Screen Captures

 

1) Synapse Films - Region 0 - NTSC - TOP

2) Shout! Factory - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 


1) Synapse Films - Region 0 - NTSC - TOP

2) Shout! Factory - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 


1) Synapse Films - Region 0 - NTSC - TOP

2) Shout! Factory - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 


1) Synapse Films - Region 0 - NTSC - TOP

2) Shout! Factory - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 


1) Synapse Films - Region 0 - NTSC - TOP

2) Shout! Factory - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 


1) Synapse Films - Region 0 - NTSC - TOP

2) Shout! Factory - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

More Blu-ray Captures

Recommended  Film Poster Books (CLICK COVERS or TITLES for more information)

Box Covers

 

Distribution Synapse Films - Region 0 - NTSC Shout! Factory
Region 'A' - Blu-ray
 



 

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Gary Tooze

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