Ectobrains in B-movies
Brain movies, in contrast, deal with the more disembodied situation of naked brains kept alive in isolation from their natural bodily environment, generally waiting in vats to be transplanted. These “ectobrains,” which were popular in B-movies from the 1940s to the 1970s (Vidal 2009b), embody the person to whom they originally “belonged.”
The most interesting films of this sort involve individuals of the same species. Whether we say that A is the brain donor or the body recipient and B the brain recipient or the body donor, the outcome of the operation is a person with the external appearance and (except for the brain) the internal anatomy of B but with the life history and psychological features of A—essentially, therefore, according to the movies, A in or with B’s body. The plots then focus on the consequences of the surgery, which range from the hybrid’s desire for revenge to the choice of a new life in the guise of B; they may also touch on the resurgence in A of personality features originally belonging to B.