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The Brain Leeches

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The Brain Leeches
Directed byFred Olen Ray
Produced byFred Olen Ray
Written byJim Kennedy
Brad Linaweaver
Fred Olen Ray
StarringPaul Jones
Marcia Scott
Ray Starr
Music byPaul Jones
Sugar Lee
Modest Mussorgsky
CinematographyMarvin Levine
John Raber
Fred Olen Ray
(as Fred Ray)
Running time
55 minutes
LanguageEnglish
Budget$298.00

The Brain Leeches is a 1978 American low-budget science fiction exploitation film directed by Fred Olen Ray and starring Paul Jones, Marcia Scott, and Ray Starr. It has a running time of 55 minutes, and was completed on a budget of $298.00. The film was shown publicly only once, although it has since become available through distributors. The project proved to be a turning point in the careers of two of the principals.

Plot

A former nuclear scientist turned pro-wrestler does battle with invading aliens who are taking over the brains of people in a small town.[1]

Cast

  • Paul Jones as Dr. John Hayes
  • Marcia Scott as Susan
  • Ray Starr as Rusty Fender
  • Jennifer Knight as Rose
  • Brad Linaweaver as Billy Johnson
  • Fred Olen Ray (as Brian Wolfe) as Tom[2]

Production

Filming

Principal photography took place in 1978.[3] The film was shot using an old Auricon 16mm camera, and (expired) nine-year-old black and white film stock obtained from an Orlando, Florida, television station where Ray worked.[1][4] The alien invaders were represented by large rubber ants purchased at a dime store for 19 cents apiece.[1][2] Earthlings under mind control by the aliens were portrayed as having all-white eyes. The special effect was achieved by applying white tape to the actors' eyelids.[1] The destruction of the alien headquarters (the TV station where Ray worked) was depicted using stock footage of a nuclear explosion from an old 16mm documentary found in the television station's film archive.[1]

Score

The film score is a public domain recording of Moussorgsky's Pictures at an Exhibition, taken directly from a "cheap record album". According to Ray: "No effort was made to synchronize any of the music to the picture".[1] Portions of the film were shot at a bar, The Foxhead Tavern, in Orlando.[3]

Production of The Brain Leeches was completed, on budget, for $298.00.[1][4]

Distribution

In 1991, Ray stated that The Brain Leeches had been shown publicly only one time, and that it would never be released for distribution.[1] However, more than 30 years after its first showing, copies of the film have become available through distributors such as Sinister Cinema.com.[5][6]

Legacy

The project proved to be a watershed moment for two of the principals. Political essayist Brad Linaweaver received his first original story credit (for film) for The Brain Leeches. The experience changed the trajectory of Linaweaver's career path, emphasizing film and science fiction writing for the rest of his life.[5][7][8] The film also jump-started the career of prodigious Hollywood director/producer (and sometimes professional wrestler[9]) Fred Olen Ray, who is also known for having loaned Quentin Tarantino his first 16mm camera to make My Best Friend's Birthday.[10] The association and collaboration between Linaweaver and Ray continued until Linaweaver's death in 2019.[5]

References

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h Fred Olen Ray (1 January 1991). The New Poverty Row: Independent Filmmakers as Distributors. McFarland. p. 176. ISBN 978-0-89950-628-9.
  2. ^ a b "An eye for an eye". The Orlando Sentinel. June 11, 1978. p. 388. Retrieved April 9, 2020.
  3. ^ a b ""The Brain Leeches"". The Orlando Sentinel. May 28, 1978. p. 133. Retrieved April 6, 2020.
  4. ^ a b Mike Quarles (21 June 2010). Down and Dirty: Hollywood's Exploitation Filmmakers and Their Movies. McFarland. p. 80. ISBN 978-0-7864-6257-5.
  5. ^ a b c "Brad Linaweaver (1952-2019)". Locus Publications. September 3, 2019. Retrieved April 6, 2020.
  6. ^ "Sci Fi Brain Leeches, The*". Sinister Cinema.com. Retrieved April 6, 2020.
  7. ^ "Libertarian Screenwriter Brad Linaweaver Slams Neocons". Hollywood Investigator. August 12, 2007. Retrieved April 6, 2020.
  8. ^ "In Memoriam-Brad Linaweaver". AmazingStories.com. September 12, 2019. Retrieved April 6, 2020.
  9. ^ Johnny D. Boggs (10 January 2014). Jesse James and the Movies. McFarland. p. 225. ISBN 978-0-7864-8496-6.
  10. ^ Gaydos, Steve (14 March 2007). "Q&A with Tarantino…when he was Mr. Green". Variety. Retrieved April 6, 2020.
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