Sunday, 8 February 2009


I was in a state of knackerdom last night so I decided to vege out and again watch The Brain that Wouldn’t Die AKA Jan in the pan. Never seen it? Really? Quel tragic. Forget Dances with Wolves – boring movie, the English Patient – die already will you or Out of Africa – ho hum - The Brain is a classic film. It has pathos, unintentional humor, drama, terrible photography and a dreadful script yet it’s quite awfully, wonderfully lovely (Whoa! Adverb violation – go straight to author hell do not pass go) and I can’t see it enough.

What’s it about? Okay - Jan and her scientist boyfriend Bill are in a car accident. Jan literally loses her head and the presence-of-mind Bill collects the head, as you do – why notify emergency services - and he keeps it alive in a dish of nefarious looking, dark liquid in his laboratory. Jan, when she wakes up is a tad pissed, as you are when your boyfriend shaves your hair off and gives you a weird hood. Well, hoods are not always in are they? She soon discovers Bill, who always seemed like a nice guy, is actually fucking nuts and he plans to find the perfect body to reattach Jan’s head to. Yes – correct – Bill has to kill to get it and Jan’s not real happy about any of this. I could never work out why Bill couldn’t save her body because that’s the bit with the heart that pumps. How smart can be Bill be? Anyway…while he is out checking bods, Jan discovers she is not alone in the lab. There is a monster locked behind a door. She is scared but like the headless trooper she is she trash talks with the monster and they soon become mates. The rest I’ll let you watch yourself as it’s now part of the public domain. Click
here to view.

The moral of the Jan in the pan story? Well, I’m not saying don’t date a mad scientist but if you do always check your bits and pieces are intact the next morning, maybe take separate cars and it’s good to make friends with those you fear as they can help sometimes you.

My Everything by Julia Barrett is out in March at Cerridwen Press. Check it out below – and also click on the cover and read Julia’s other great work.

Ben drove to the rear of the hotel. There were no spaces available so he had to park in another lot behind a thick hedge. He stepped out of the car and waited patiently in the shadows for several minutes, simply looking and listening. There didn't appear to be another soul in the parking lot, so he grabbed two of his bags, locked the car and strode confidently to the nearest entrance. He passed under the lighted archway to the rear door, used his key card and climbed the stairs to the third floor. So far so good. Tom wouldn't have indicated this hotel if he thought Ben would be walking into an assassin's bullet. Obviously Tom felt this would be the safest place, otherwise he would have sent him to his old apartment. Evan Spencer's old apartment, he reminded himself. Even Julie had only been there once and she didn't know who lived in the apartment. She assumed he was one of Ben's coworkers. Ben always believed that what she didn't know couldn't get her killed. That's what he'd thought. Ben shook the memory off and opened the door to the third floor hallway.

The only problem with this hotel was that the hallways were long and turned several times. The rear door was the closest to room 313. Ben came around the corner and stopped dead in his tracks. His room was three doors down on the right. Sticking out of the little recess where the door to his room should be were two long, very bare legs. Two long, very bare, extremely shapely legs of the female persuasion. Ben glanced quickly behind him and listened carefully but he saw and heard nothing. He turned back to the legs. They moved slightly. One long but delicate foot arched upwards and then came back to point. The other leg bent at the knee just slightly. Then both knees were drawn up and slender, naked arms wrapped around them. A tousled head of gold-brown hair fell forward to rest on delicate hands.

Ben heard a quiet whimper. He approached the girl soundlessly. He walked right up to her but she didn't acknowledge his presence. Long hair obscured her face. He perused her silently. She didn't appear to be a threat. As a matter of fact, other than a plastic bottle of Coca-Cola in one hand she held nothing. She wore so little that as far as Ben could tell she wasn't hiding a weapon unless she was sitting on it. He didn't think so. He'd seen enough bad guys that despite his innately suspicious nature all his senses were telling him she was harmless. Unless she was a decoy, a distraction. That was a possibility. She was most definitely a distraction. Ben's body and his mind were both instantly aware of that fact. He heard his brain say, "Down boy," and he almost laughed. Almost. He hadn't laughed in a very long time.

He set his bags down quietly and crouched beside her, both hands free and loose and ready to defend himself if necessary.

"Have you been drinking?" he asked softly.

"Mmmmmph," the woman mumbled.
He leaned a little closer and he heard her say, "No." Ben inhaled deeply. Checking. She didn't smell like alcohol. He was pleasantly surprised to note that the scent of vanilla drifted his way.

"Sick?" he asked quietly and he found himself automatically reaching for her forehead. He drew his hand back before he touched her.

She lifted her head slightly. Even though her eyes were half-closed, he could see that her pupils were very dilated. Ben wondered if she was on drugs.

"Mm-m-migraine," she stuttered, her voice pitched very low. He had to strain to hear.

Ben sat back on his heels and considered the situation. He didn't believe in coincidence. Why, of all the places in the world, would this strange woman be sitting on the floor in front of the door to his hotel room at one in the morning? Half naked. Her long, slim, leanly muscled runner's legs reminding him of things he believed were best left forgotten.
"Where's your room?" Ben asked.

"Can't remember," she mumbled. Then she moaned quietly, almost reluctantly it seemed to him and pressed the Coke bottle to the side of her head.

"Your room key?" he persisted.

"In the room."

He saw tears squeeze out the corners of her eyes and roll down her cheeks. Ben noticed that her teeth were beginning to chatter. It was cold in the hallway. Either she was a very good actress or she was telling the truth. He decided to believe her. He couldn't leave her in the hallway. She was a sitting duck for any unscrupulous male who decided to walk by. But he couldn't take her down to the front desk either. He didn't want to draw unnecessary attention to himself. His only reasonable option under the circumstances was to bring her into his room and put her to bed. If it was a migraine, she'd be better in the morning. Julie had suffered occasional migraines. He'd search her once he got her inside, make sure she didn't have a knife blade stashed away, maybe in the rolled-down waistband of her boxers. They sat very low on her hips and didn't cover much. He could see the margins of a tattoo on her lower back and he suddenly realized he'd like to see the rest of it. He felt himself stir at the thought and then admonished himself. If she was really sick, he'd put her to bed and get rid of her as quickly as he could in the morning. There went his good night's sleep. He'd be sleeping practically on top of her to avoid being unexpectedly gutted in the middle of the night.
Go Ahead : Live with abandon. Be outrageous at any age. What are you saving your best self for?


Regina Carlysle said...

WOW...this sounds like a fascinating movie. The first scary movie I ever saw as a kid was called The Frozen Dead. It was similar with the talking head and all. Her head was in a glass case. This was black and white and just scared the crap outta me.

Anonymous said...

Believe it or not I've seen that movie. It is one of the campiest horror movies ever - totally fun and very, very gross! Thanks so much for posting my excerpt. You are a doll!

Anny Cook said...

Heh. Never saw this movie, but believe that might be my Sunday afternoon entertainment!

Excellent excerpt Julia!

barbara huffert said...

How have I missed this classic? It sounds like something I'd watch over and over again. Must remedy that today.