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Ectobrains in B-movies

01/01/1940 (Aprox)01/01/1970 (Aprox)


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.

Vidal, Fernando and Ortega, Francisco. Being Brains: Making the Cerebral Subject (Forms of Living)....

To learn more about depictions of ectobrains in the movies, read the book chapter by Fernando Vidal. You can purchase the book on the link below:

Vidal, Fernando. 2009b. “Ectobrains in the Movies.” In The Fragment: An Incomplete History, edited b...

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Published in 11/03/2019

Updated in 19/02/2021

All events in the topic Chap. 4: Brains on Screen:


01/01/1931 (Aprox)FrankensteinFrankenstein
05/12/1931The New York Times' review of FrankensteinThe New York Times' review of Frankenstein
01/01/1935 (Aprox)Bride of FrankensteinBride of Frankenstein
01/01/1942 (Aprox)Ghost of FrankensteinGhost of Frankenstein
01/01/1974 (Aprox)Young FrankensteinYoung Frankenstein
01/01/1969 (Aprox)Frankenstein Must Be DestroyedFrankenstein Must Be Destroyed
01/01/1970 (Aprox)01/01/2019 (Aprox)From brain transplantation to managing neural information
01/01/1990 (Aprox)Heart ConditionHeart Condition
01/01/1999 (Aprox)HeartHeart
01/01/1969 (Aprox)La Horripilante Bestia HumanaLa Horripilante Bestia Humana
01/01/1924 (Aprox)01/01/1960 (Aprox)Movie adaptations of Orlac's HandsMovie adaptations of Orlac's Hands
01/01/1962 (Aprox)01/01/1964 (Aprox)The Addams FamilyThe Addams Family
01/01/1946 (Aprox)The Beast with Five FingersThe Beast with Five Fingers
01/01/1965 (Aprox)Dr. Terror’s House of HorrorsDr. Terror’s House of Horrors
01/01/1981 (Aprox)The HandThe Hand
01/01/1991 (Aprox)Body PartsBody Parts
01/01/1959 (Aprox)The Brain That Wouldn't DieThe Brain That Wouldn't Die
01/01/1984 (Aprox)Professor Dowell's TestamentProfessor Dowell's Testament
01/01/1996 (Aprox)Cold LazarusCold Lazarus
01/01/1940 (Aprox)01/01/1970 (Aprox)Ectobrains in B-moviesEctobrains in B-movies
01/01/1936 (Aprox)The Man Who Changed His MindThe Man Who Changed His Mind
01/01/1969 (Aprox)Change of MindChange of Mind
01/01/1971 (Aprox)L'homme au cerveau grefféL'homme au cerveau greffé
01/01/1980 (Aprox)Memory moviesMemory movies
01/01/1962 (Aprox)The Manchurian CandidateThe Manchurian Candidate
01/01/1990 (Aprox)Total RecallTotal Recall
01/01/2006 (Aprox)Magdalena's BrainMagdalena's Brain
01/01/1998 (Aprox)Dark CityDark City
01/01/1982 (Aprox)Blade RunnerBlade Runner
01/01/1995 (Aprox)Johnny MnemonicJohnny Mnemonic
01/01/1995 (Aprox)Strange DaysStrange Days
01/01/1932Remembering, by Frederic BartlettRemembering, by Frederic Bartlett
01/01/2004 (Aprox)Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless MindEternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
01/01/2003 (Aprox)PaycheckPaycheck
01/01/1977 (Aprox)Flashbulb Memories, by Brown and KulikFlashbulb Memories, by Brown and Kulik
21/02/2013Speak, Memory by Oliver SacksSpeak, Memory by Oliver Sacks