Search - The Brain Machine AKA Grey Matter (1977) on DVD

The Brain Machine AKA Grey Matter (1977)
The Brain Machine AKA Grey Matter
Actor: James Best; Barbara Burgess
Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama, Science Fiction & Fantasy, Mystery & Suspense
PG     2005     1hr 25min

When a group of unknowing thrill seekers volunteer for what they think will be the experiment of a life time, they set out to achieve the ultimate ability to read minds and expand their memory. But this group gets more th...  more »


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Movie Details

Actor: James Best; Barbara Burgess
Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama, Science Fiction & Fantasy, Mystery & Suspense
Sub-Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama, Science Fiction & Fantasy, Mystery & Suspense
Studio: Trinity Entertainment
Format: DVD - Color,Full Screen - Full length
DVD Release Date: 11/22/2005
Original Release Date: 01/01/1977
Theatrical Release Date: 00/00/1977
Release Year: 2005
Run Time: 1hr 25min
Screens: Color,Full Screen
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 0
MPAA Rating: PG (Parental Guidance Suggested)
Languages: English

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Movie Reviews

Get Ready to Integrate
Lonnie E. Holder | Columbus, Indiana, United States | 03/07/2006
(1 out of 5 stars)

"Here is one of those movies where the box is the most exciting thing about the movie. Once you begin watching the movie, you suddenly realize that this movie is tremendously exciting, much like watching grass grow. Actually, watching grass grow may be more exciting.

The movie begins with some promise. We see a fellow in a white coat flitting about a laboratory while scenes are cut in discussing the fellow and that he has just stolen the super secret files that no one should ever have access to because they are super secret and it is just too bad that he has to be "transferred," which is a euphemism for shot a whole bunch of times in a hotel room while writing a letter to a congressman who already knew about the secret project anyway. Understanding all this really makes little difference, because this movie is confusing much of the time anyway, and the ending seems almost pointless.

We soon learn that the "project" is going to move forward with four volunteers. We pick up bits and pieces that the "project" has something to do with reading minds. Obviously this project has to be government sponsored because in 1977, when this movie was filmed, government was the root of all evil. Knowing what we know today, obviously evil was milder in those days.

Our four volunteers include ditzy Minnie Lee Parks (Anne Latham, in her second and last role), war veteran Judd Reeves (Marcus J. Grapes, who was near the end of his brief television and film career), Reverend Emory Neill (James Best, a veteran of at least 170 film and television appearances, who many will remember best as Rosco P. Coltrane on the television series "The Dukes of Hazzard"), and highly intelligent Willie West (Gerald McRaney, who was one of the Simons in the television series "Simon & Simon," among dozens of other appearances).

Dr. Carol Portland (Barbara Burgess, who had one role after this movie in 1984's "Laughterhouse") spends a good amount of time trying to keep her hair piled high without snapping her neck, and periodically appearing intelligent. To her credit, she keeps herself above the silly dialogue (more about that in a moment). Dr. Portland appears to be intimate with Dr. Roland Roth (Doug Collins, in his only film appearance, ever; this movie must have told him that acting was a poor way to make a living), who appears to be sort of in charge much of the time, and who shares highly dramatic scenes with Gil Peterson as Dr. Elton Morris. I know Gil Peterson is famous because he was the well known "fourth German soldier" in a 1965 episode of "Combat." If that isn't fame, I do not know what is.

There are a number of nondescript government types who lend credence to the whole government conspiracy plot, but other than seeing moving mouths and one high government person's office that looks a lot like a junk closet at Hewlett Packard, these characters are there for comic relief. Just kidding. Actually these characters are there to be sinister and cold-blooded, but only if you can stop rolling your eyes long enough to focus.

What all this comes down to is that the non-descript government types take over the experiment, and soon our volunteers are doing all sorts of dramatic things (yawn). By the time the movie reaches its inevitable conclusion, I was wondering what all the hoopla was about. After all, one of the characters in the movie sure looked to me like a George Bush look-alike.

There is no way that I am able to explain to you how bad this movie is. It is boring. The technical jargon, which uses the word "integrate" more times than a semester of calculus, was obviously bogus. In fact, the dialogue was a concatenation of actual words that made virtually no sense. It did sound impressive. I was impressed by the use of actual oscilloscopes, computer tape drives and other high tech paraphernalia from the 70s that were likely state of the art at that time. However, getting past the equipment, this movie has nothing to offer. The plot takes a long time to get launched. Once you figure out what the plot is about, you get to the "so what" point, and after that the movie goes down hill from there. I spent much of the movie waiting for something, anything, to happen. It never did.

If you have so much money that you have spend it on something, get this movie. Otherwise, I recommend any other movie you can find.
I am immortal and I can not die
bernie | Arlington, Texas | 09/23/2007
(2 out of 5 stars)

"Filmed in the 70's this is a latecomer to the sixties formula big brother paranoia films.

An experiment is performed to see if "truth" can be told with the hope that the results can correct all the ills of mankind and pollution to boot. The subjects are carefully chosen based on the objective.

Unknown to our guinea pigs and testing staff, the experiment was usurped by the military for nefarious purposes; anyone objecting is dispatched.

Naturally the computers and guinea's are not suited for the plan. This is a brain teaser as everyone has to confess they lied. More insidious is the fact that the computer can not understand that the subject does not believe he can die and sets out to prove this. This becomes a compressing problem.

How will it end? Or will it end? What would you do in the situation?
What exactly was the point of this movie?
Christopher Hivner | Dallastown, PA USA | 07/21/2006
(2 out of 5 stars)

"The Brain Machine is a very vague movie. The writer felt he had something important to say and the way to say it was never let the audience know just what the hell is going on. Four people, including James Best of Dukes of Hazzard fame as a reverend, are taking part in a psychological experiment. They are asked a lot of questions and told that they must tell the truth or the experiment won't work. Then they are locked in a room in which their environment will be controlled and the walls will gradually close in on them. What exactly is the experiment and what is its ultimate purpose? Not a clue.

Unbeknownst to the doctors running the experiment, there is a shadowy government group watching on hidden cameras. They have done something to the computer running everything which, when the subjects are asleep, infiltrates their brains and reads their minds. Then the computer tells the doctors something the subject is lying about and they must get the truth out of them for the experiment to continue. What did the government do and what is its ultimate purpose with this technology? Not a clue.

Besides James Best, this movie also stars a very young Gerald McRaney and a bunch of non-actors. The worst is the man playing the General in charge of the shadowy government group. Stiff as a board and unable to deliver a line with any emotion. The direction is almost silly. There are two locations in the movie. A hospital-like building where the experiment is taking place and the General's mansion complete with a lovely in-ground pool. Apparently the director felt that two locations would be confusing to the viewers, so everytime the scene changes we are enlightened with the exact same shot of either the hospital or the General's home before the actual scene begins. Then there's the wonderful scenes of the General's henchmen, sitting with headphones on staring straight ahead at make-believe monitors saying things like "Mark 5, Camera 3. We have visual. Countdown 5 4 3 2 1. Mark" Now that is scintillating dialog.

This is not the worst movie I've ever seen, but it's not good either. if you need it to complete your James Best library, go ahead, but otherwise avoid it."
"Each Day In The E-Box Represents Five Years Time"
Robert I. Hedges | 05/14/2006
(2 out of 5 stars)

"Made in Mississippi in 1977, this is one of the least coherent, least plausible, and most annoying films I have ever seen. "The Brain Machine" has also had at a minimum five other titles ("Gray Matter," "Grey Matter," "Mind Warp," "Time Warp," and "The E-Box") in attempt to peddle this to an unsuspecting public. I don't care what they call it (I would vote for "Idiots Who Can't Act, Direct, or Edit Make a Feature Film," but that's just me) this film is a disaster of epic proportions.

The premise is that a military-industrial complex is conspiring to control the world. In an attempt to read minds some scientists have developed the "E-Box" where they confine four unrelated people who have to tell the absolute truth, and are subjected to various probes and torments which include moving walls, "pollutants" added to their environment, varying noise levels, and an intrusive female scientist with the biggest beehive hairdo I have ever in my life seen. (Think of one of the women from a "Far Side" comic.) Of course the experiment goes wildly awry and leads to tragedy in the end, as government thugs take control from the scientists.

The film opens somewhat promisingly with the defection of a scientist, Dr. Krisner, played by the delightfully named Zephirin Hymel IV. Krisner takes some ultra-secret files about mind control with him and to fill us in on the action starts writing a letter to a senator which he actually reads out loud to us (clever plot device) which literally begins "Dear Senator, What I'm about to tell you is more horrible..." at which point he is shot dead by rogue government agents. The film becomes rapidly disjointed from there and spends most of the remaining hour on three basic types of scenes: outdoor establishing shots of buildings; the interactions between the experiment subjects and their captors; and (my personal favorite) a shot of two scruffy looking guys in headsets in a control room saying the most stupid and contrived sci-fi technobabble I have ever heard in any movie, bar none. The truth is, I was originally going to give this film one star, but decided to give it two because of the hilarity of the control room exchanges, which desperately want to sound like NASA, but sound more like someone working the drive-through in a fast food restaurant. These exchanges are so delicious I have to give you a random sampling:

"Get my phase three impulse breakdowns!"

"Integrate CIC circuit to probe status...reduce modulation by five...mark!"

"The computers are overriding us!"

"The computers have total control!"

Last, but certainly not least, is a long dialogue about "redactive circuits."

I should mention that the props and special effects match the remainder of the film for quality. There are tons of shots of tinted corridors and control rooms while rotating emergency lights flash, and the mind control probes are bits of wonder by any standards. These mind control probes are actually foldable cots the victims can sleep on, but we are informed (in a lecture) that they are amazing and sophisticated devices that can transmit the virtual essence of the experimental subject to a computer.

The movie also likes to try to be philosophical, though I doubt the wisdom of some exchanges, for example: "No man ever thinks he's going to die; it's the paradox of mankind."..."Yes, we know that now, we made a mistake." Well that cleared that up.

This movie is relentless and poorly crafted in every way. The script is pure drivel, the direction and editing can be generously described as incompetent, and the acting is dreadful: the worst actor by far (Thomas Phillips) plays "The General;" his performance is one of the worst I have ever seen in any movie of any genre from any time period (and yes, I have seen every Ed Wood movie.) Truly, his is a breathtaking performance.

I can't imagine who funded this film or why; moreover, I can't even hazard a guess as to why the final product was released. Have these people no shame?"