|THE TOP 10 COOLEST DISEMBODIED BRAINS
Not to alarm anyone, but right now, as you read this, there is a throbbing, pulsing, living
thing inside your very skull and it knows everything you know.
As the icky-looking core of our very being, brains have been widely popular icons of horror
and science fiction since the terms were even coined. Whether still attached to their
vertebrae, eyeballs or both, floating in a nutrient-rich tank or floating telekinetically through
the air, bodiless brains are a widespread archetype for monsters, aliens and
super-humans alike, and today, bogleech.com shall finally pay them homage with another
stupid ultra-specific countdown list. BRAAAINS!
Maxwell Atom's Evil Con Carne was a short-lived Cartoon Network series that began as a
segment on "Grim & Evil," a highly successful and darkly funny series quickly reworked into "The
Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy." While the early "Evil" segments were admittedly crudely
drawn and poorly written, its experimental spin-off segments were remarkably funny at times with
endearing characterization and relatively sleek art direction. It was definitely one of Cartoon
Network's more interesting little endeavors, and many episodes can now be viewed on
cartoonnetwork.com (under "videos")
The titular Evil Con Carne was a comically inept terrorist organization (you know, the usual kid's
show stuff) led by Hector Con Carne himself, a supervillain overlord who had lost most of his
body in a terrible accident. Now attached for no real reason to a cartoon bear, Hector would
make numerous attempts to overthrow the world with his lovable henchmen, the incredibly
unlucky General Skarr (who loathes him with a fiery passion) and the incredibly adorable Major
Doctor Ghastly (who has more...interesting...feelings towards her boss.)
While Hector never became the sort of sensation as the Powerpuff Girls, Dexter or former
co-stars Billy & Mandy, he remains one of the most unusual children's characters this side of a
sentient sea-sponge, and his significance in the world of disembodied brains has been set in
stone for all time as the very first disembodied brain to ever earn the lead role in a television
series, short-lived or otherwise. Why Maxwell didn't get a medal for this, I cannot say. Isn't it a
whole entire category at the emmies? No? What the hell has our society been doing all this time?!
|#9 - The Illithid Elder Brain
|One of the oldest and most iconic monsters in the "Dungeons and Dragons" gaming universe,
the squid-faced Mind Flayer or Illithid may be the most brain-obsessed fantasy race in cultural
history. Living brains comprise 100% of their diet, they're imbued with psychic powers, they begin
their lives as tiny brain parasites, and they even use brains to create monsters of their own.
Now, I know what you're thinking...this is supposed to be a list of things that are brains, not a list
of things that just get off on brains! Well, never fear, for the ultimate goal of every illithid is to
eventually shed its mortal body to become one with the community Elder Brain, a massive
conglomerate of slimy minds that functions as the ultimate storehouse of knowledge, the closest
thing to a god in squid-people land and even an integral part of illithid reproduction, as they
spend the first decade of their life as tadpoles swimming in the Elder's briny fluids. I'd show you a
picture of the Elder Brain, but you can pretty much guess what it looks like.
|#8 - The Intellect Devourer
Another Dungeons & Dragons original, the Intellect Devourer was first published in the same
book as the Mind Flayer and has similarly endured to this day, but was never given quite as
expansive a background. Nevertheless, it easily earns a higher spot on the list by being brain-like
throughout its entire life and remarkably disturbing for such a simple design.
In early publications, this clawed subterranean horror simply fed upon the brainwaves of its
victims and dominated their minds, but relatively recent lore states that the creatures physically
enter the skulls of their victims and commandeer their bodies, devouring the original brain and
eventually tearing their way back out. How they actually do this, I'm not entirely sure, since
they're several times larger than any normal human cranium. Maybe they discard most of their
mass like certain real-world body snatchers. I'd google it and find out, but that might endanger
my super rad theory.
Naturally, these guys are raised as pets by the mind-flayers. One must wonder if they learn any
tricks besides "think" and "make dead."
I've already written about Krang once before, but one article is never enough to contain all
the awesome. Krang was more or less the true villain of the original Teenage Mutant Ninja
Turtles cartoon show, an alien conqueror supposedly reduced to a brain as some manner of
punishment. Unperturbed, the soggy blob continued his life of villainy with his technical genius
and a sizable army of underlings, constructing all manner of robots and superweapons in his
attempts to conquer Earth. Even his most brilliant plans were easily foiled by deformed reptiles
with the mentality of high-school children, but the little guy never gave up. One day he might
tamper with the Earth's gravitational pull, the next he might unleash giant insects on New York,
cackling and croaking and wringing his little tentacles with devilish glee again and again. Krang
was seriously my hero as a child, and he's still pretty much everything I aspire to be.
Coming to us from Matt Groening's science-fiction comedy Futurama, these ancient, telepathic
aliens find all other forms of intelligence offensive and obnoxious, seeking to eliminate all thought
but their own. In their first appearance, they rendered almost the entire planet Earth hilariously
moronic, and would later attempt to wipe out the universe itself (but only after storing all known
information in a protected super-brain). Truly frightening and formidable villains, yet
simultaneously among the funniest characters in the series, delivering lines like "I'M A GIGANTIC
BRAIN" with that same special camp as a B-movie villain unaware of its own cheesiness.
The original antagonist and final boss of Nintendo's Metroid, Mother Brain is ruler of the
nefarious space pirates, a dangerously intelligent cyborg who plots to harness the deadly,
parasitic Metroid creatures as unstoppable weapons. Confined to a tank in its original
appearance, Mother Brain would surprise gamers with a hulking, horrifying new body in Super
Metroid before its final defeat but not-quite final appearance; more recent Metroid titles, set
before the events of the original game, feature techno-organic supercomputers heavily implied to
be Mother Brain's precursors.
Perhaps even more interesting than its brief appearances as a game boss, Mother Brain would
adopt a clearly female personality as the primary antagonist of Captain N: The Gamemaster; an
incredibly corny, stupid and ridiculous Saturday morning cartoon series featuring characters from
a number of different video games (though not, oddly enough, the heroine of Metroid). This
version of Mother Brain was memorably and surprisingly performed by the vocal talents of Levi
Stubbs, the exact same voice as the monster Audrey II in 1986's Little Shop of Horrors!
|#4 - The Brain (DC Comics)
The Brain is a classic comic-book villain who eventually found his way into the DC universe and
was subsequently written into an openly homosexual relationship with a talking gorilla named
Monsieur Mallah. There is nothing else I can say about this that you're ever going to remember. I
can just type anything at this point. Caterpillar marmalade milkshakes.
|#3 - The Brain from Planet Arous
We're getting into the big leagues now with a brain so well-remembered (among people who
remember things like this) that it was featured in the opening sequence of a television show
(Malcolm in the Middle) that wasn't even about disembodied brains at all.
Inaccurately titled, the 1957 film actually features two brains from the Planet Arous - an evil
criminal named Gor and a heroic lawman (or lawbrain) named Vol. Both have the ability to enter
and control the bodies of other creatures, but not wishing to rob a human being of free will, Vol
speaks and acts through the body of a dog. Nice going, Vol. A talking dog becomes Mankind's
greatest defense against a crazed lunatic from another planet, who aspires to conquer our entire
world and gets so hopped-up on human hormones that he tries to force himself on the female
Luckily, the brains must leave their host bodies at regular intervals to absorb oxygen, leaving Gor
vulnerable just long enough to whack with an axe, universally known as the most satisfying
means of destroying any rampaging body organ.
Perhaps the one that started it all, Donovan's Brain is a 1942 novel and multiple film adaptations
in which an eccentric millionaire has his brain kept alive post-mortem. Unfortunately, this
unnaturally extended state of being causes Donovan to develop dangerous psychic powers,
growing larger than a normal brain and steadily more malicious. Soon, he is able to control the
mind of the doctor running the experiment, using him to manage his fortune and commit
increasingly evil deeds.
Donovan's brain is among the earliest and most famous tales ever told of a cerebrum existing
outside a living body, setting off one of the most iconic tropes of the science fiction genre and
clearly inspiring many - if not all - of the pulsating horrors on this list.
Easily among the strangest and most terrifying movie monsters of all time, the titular entity from
1958's "Fiend Without a Face" is described in the film as human thought given life by fallout from
a nuclear plant, because in 1958, radiation could turn anything into a monster. For most of the
film, the Fiend is invisible, leaving a trail of victims whose brains and spinal columns have been
cleanly removed. It is only towards the film's climax that the horror is rendered visible to the
human eye, and we are treated to the cutting-edge (and still damn creepy) effect of creeping,
crawling, leaping brains infesting every corner of the plant and the surrounding wilderness,
trapping the main cast in a boarded-up house in a rather interesting twist on your standard
zombie apocalypse scenario.
|Early cellular phones sold poorly
For its time, Fiend Without a Face was considered graphic enough to be rejected by dozens of
theaters and outright banned in Sweden, largely due to the copious amounts of glop (apparently
raspberry preserves) that gush from the critters in the carnage of its final scenes. Interestingly
enough, the script never makes reference to multiple "fiends," referring to the collective of cranial
creeps as though they were a single entity. It may very well be that "the fiend" is still an invisible,
intangible force, but assimilates the brains of its victims into a hideous hive-minded legion!