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The Brain That Wouldn't Die

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513 - The Brain That Wouldn't Die
Air Date October 30, 1993
AKA The Head That Wouldn't Die
Movie Director Joseph Green
Year 1962
Cast Jason Evers (billed here as Herb Evers), Virginia Leith
Preceded by 512 - Mitchell
Followed by 514 - Teen-Age Strangler

The Movie


It's 1962 in southern California. Ambitious physician Dr. Bill Cortner (Jason Evers) is a 40-year-old intern who plays by his own rules. "Nothing is beyond my control" he boasts.

Cortner has been secretly laboring to perfect the transplantation of limbs using parts poached from the morgue at the hospital where he works. His father, also a surgeon, covers for him.  Nurse Jan (Virginia Leith) is his lovely assistant and bride-to-be.

Bill's got a private lab in the country. One Friday, he receives an urgent summons at work from his assistant and experimental subject, Kurt. Dr. Bill and Jan race at top speed to the lab in his convertible. In a crash, Bill is thrown from the car, unhurt. Jan is decapitated, yet curiously still able to stretch an arm out dramatically towards Bill's face as she falls into unconsciousness.


Bill takes Jan's head from the flaming Ford and races to his lab where he installs it in a lasagna pan filled with his brand-new transplant solution. Mirabile dictu, it seems that all you need to perfectly perfuse a brain is a couple of beakers, some 1/4 inch glass tubing, a pan of combination anti-rejection serum/artificial blood/cerebrospinal fluid and osmotic pressure. Jan will survive for fifty hours, he estimates, time enough to secure her a new body - and move medicine forward by light years!

Confident that Jan's head will be fine without his personal medical supervision, he returns to the city and searches for a host body; he visits a strip club, cruises the boulevards, and attends a beauty contest. His lips twist with desire as he ogles the paraded flesh, while a sexophone wails a sleazy accompaniment and the camera weaves drunkenly.

Back at the lab, Jan plans Bill's comeuppance. She's miffed at not being allowed to expire with dignity and she lets lab assistant Kurt know it. It seems she has also acquired paranormal powers. She can communicate telepathically with and issue commands to another of Bill's creations - an unspeakable, mutated mass of grafted tissues that resides in a locked closet.

Meanwhile, Bill discovers a suitable host in the form of "Doris", a misanthropic, facially disfigured photographer's model from his past. He reels her in with his oily charm, promising to "erase her scar... sanding away damaged skin tissues" - a revolutionary approach to cosmetic surgery. Once he has her at the lab, he plies her with drugged liquor and prepares to operate, over Jan's strident objections.

Will the hellish healer prevail in his plans? Can the sinister sawbones succeed with murder? Will Jan be denied a humane death and forced to continue life... as a monstrosity? And what of the thing in the closet?


Eddie Carmel, who played the giant pinhead mutant, was billed at 8’ 9” tall, though he was likely at least one foot shorter. He toured with Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey, billed as “The Jewish Giant” and “The World’s Greatest Giant.”

The Episode


The MST3K DVD of the film, made by Rhino Videos.

Host Segments

Prologue: It’s Mike’s first day on the SOL and the ‘Bots have been giving him training on the finer points of riffing. Sid Melton = Little Monkey Boy.

Invention: Mike’s first invention is the Gutter-bumber-chute, an umbrella with a gutter system. The Mads are not impressed. In Deep 13, Dr. F invents the Dream Buster, which allows him to pop the balloons of bratty children from a safe distance. Mike and the Bots are unimpressed, as Dr. F manhandles Frank ("I'm your mother now, Frank!")

Segment Two: The Bots aid Mike in attempting to gain control of the ship and get back to Earth. He ends up cutting the cheese compressor line. Gypsy hollers, "That's not cheese!"

Segment Three: It's craft time as Mike and the Bots are making hats for Jan in the Pan, the bodiless lady in the film. Included in the hats is a Crown Roast Hat, to help give the illusion of height.

Segment Four: When discussing the depressing nature of the film, Mike is compelled to tell an embarrassing childhood story about a walk-a-thon. The story includes a long walk home, an ice cream cone and a locked bathroom door.

Segment Five: Mike and the Bots don’t read letters because none are addressed to Mike, and they are visited by Jan in the Pan. She has an incredible sense of humor until Mike offends her. In Deep 13, Dr. Forrester decides to lop off Frank's head.

Stinger: Unpleasant Stripper: "Who's to tell me to blow if I don’t want to?"

Other Notes

Guest Stars


  • Tom says the bots had Mike watch The Beast of Yucca Flats in preparation for this film. The Beast of Yucca Flats would be an experiment the next year.
  • Mike's other training film was Night of the Lepus. While they never riffed on it during Mystery Science Theater's run; Mike would be back later to riff it on Rifftrax.
  • Mike's word association test includes a reference to actor Sid Melton. Melton had appeared in Lost Continent, and would appear later in the season in Radar Secret Service.
  • In this episode, we find out the reason Tom has to be carried into the theatre: there's an air grate just outside the entrance that he can't hover over.  Mike has to go back and get him after he comes in the first time.

Quotes & References

  • (deep voice) "But for Joseph Green, there would be another film."

A parody of NFL Films oft-used phrase: "But for the Green Bay Packers would come another season."

  • "License plate? A boot? Tricycle wheel? This man was a bottom feeder!"

A reference to the "shark autopsy" scene from Jaws.

  • [Tom buzzes when Dr. Cortner touches the patient's brain.]

A reference to the popular electric board game Operation.

  • "It's 'Gnip Gnop'."

Gnip Gnop (ping pong spelled backwards) was a toy/game released by Parker Brothers in the early 1970s.

  • "Luke, join me or star in Corvette Summer!"

Corvette Summer was a 1978 film starring Mark Hamill. Also a reference to the downturn of Mark Hamill's career following Star Wars.

  • "You taste like Vince Edwards."

Vince Edwards starred as the hotheaded young brain surgeon in the 60's TV medical series Ben Casey .

  • "Sylvia Plath, RN."

​I have no idea why they made this Sylvia Plath riff --- the woman in question actually resembles Diane Arbus . (Perhaps they were getting their "women artists who committed suicide" files mixed up.)

  • "Nick Mancuso IS Stingray!"

"Stingray" was a short-lived NBC television show produced by Stephen J. Cannell starring Nick Mancuso as the titular character, Ray.

  • [Mike pointing to a road direction painted on the freeway] "A sign left by ancient astronauts!"

A reference to Erich von Däniken's book Chariots of the Gods?, and a popular phrase from the sci-fi oddity show "In Search of..." narrated by Leonard Nimoy.

  • [Crow shouting to Mrs. Webb on the freeway.]

A reference to the Bob Newhart routine "The Driving Instructor", from the album The Button-Down Mind of Bob Newhart.

  • "Think I'll have a Papa Burger. You?"

A reference to fast-food franchise A&W Restaurants, which in 1963 introduced The Burger Family, which included a Mama Burger, Papa Burger, Teen Burger and Baby Burger.

  • "Look out look out look out look out!"

A line from the 1964 song 'Leader Of The Pack ' by the Shangri-Las .

  • "Thank you God, thank you so bloody much!"

One of Basil Fawlty's oft-repeated lines from the John Cleese series "Fawlty Towers" .

  • "Hey, it's Johnny Tremain!"

Johnny Tremain is the protagonist of a children's book of the same name by Esther Forbes.

  • "I bet he's going to turn her into Mrs. Olson!"

Mrs. Olson was a Swedish-accented character in a popular Folgers Coffee ad campaign.

  • "Oooooohhh, you put the lime in the coconut and drink it all up!"

A refrain from the popular song Coconut by Harry Nilsson.

  • "An American in vitro..."

A reference to the George Gershwin symphony An American in Paris, or the Gene Kelly musical of the same name. In vitro is a scientific term for biological work done "in the glass". The opposite is in vivo which refers to work done in an intact body.

  • [Rough voice] "Boss, you've broken the goofy meter again!"

Tom Servo is imitating Lionel Stander's character Max of "Hart to Hart".

  • It's the Diane Arbus cafe.

Diane Arbus was a photographer famous for images of people on the fringes of society, hence the reference to the sleazy strip club. A particularly sweet reference, as one of Arbus' most famous photos featured Eddie Carmel, the giant in this film.

  • "So, are you a goer? Ay? Ay? Nudge, nudge? Know what I mean?"

A reference to the popular "Monty Python" sketch Nudge Nudge.

  • "Knock three times on the ceiling if you want me!"

Knock Three Times is a single by Tony Orlando and Dawn . Released in November 1970, it went gold in both the U.K. and United States.

  • "The powers of Matthew Star!"

​"The Powers of Matthew Star" was a short-lived (Sept. 1982 - April 1983) sci-fi series on NBC.

  • (Jan: "I'm only a head...") "... That can't say no..."

I Cain't Say No is a song from the musical Oklahoma! ("I'm just a girl that cain't say no / I'm in a terrible fix...")

  • "Heh, heh, heh, have you seen Frankenhooker?"

Frankenhooker was a 1990 film about a scientist who kills hookers and uses their parts to revive his fiance's head.

  • "I love this place!"

​A reference to one of Burger King's more irritating TV ad campaigns from the early 1990s.

  • "Maybe she could get work in a Peter Gabriel video."

Jan in the Pan looks similar to a sequence in the video for "Sledgehammer".

  • "Now he's going to write 'piggy' on the wall with his stub."

During their crime spree, the Manson family wrote this and other things on the walls using their victims' blood.

  • "And now, Mel Blanc makes his move."  "You're goin' out with me, varmit!"

The creepy guy vaguely looks like the voice behind most of the Loony Tunes characters, including Yosemite Sam.

MST3K 513 Promos01:05

MST3K 513 Promos

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