Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Bizarro-Worthy Actor: Jason (Herb) Evers

Even in unmitigated (if entertaining) crap like the Grizzly ripoff Claws, Jason Evers gave solid, committed performances, usually as a handsome but slightly untrustworthy authority figure.

Evers--who died of a heart attack on March 13, 2005 at age 83--enjoyed a forty-some year career, with supporting roles in everything from the John Wayne Vietnam actioner The Green Berets to Escape from the Planet of the Apes to guest shots on dozens of TV series.

But my favorite Jason Evers role, one of his few leads, came in 1962 as Dr. Bill Cortner in The Brain that Wouldn't Die, one of the wildest and most entertaining B flicks of that decade. In it, Dr. Cortner rescues and resuscitates his fiancee's decapitated head after a catastrophic car crash, then searches the Red Light District of his town for a fresh body onto which he can graft his love's disembodied noggin.

The movie packs a potent good time, with everything from a stripper catfight to some shocking-for-the-time gore to a pinheaded giant in the closet (telepathically controlled by the Fiancee's Living Disembodied Head, no less!). It's all ridiculous as hell, but Evers (billed under his given name, Herb Evers) imbues his stock role with aristocratic good looks and a core of believability that subtly turns a lot of mad-scientist cliches on their respective ears. His inquisitive fervor, devotion to (what's left of) his would-be bride, and willingness to do harm to others in the name of science give the movie something really unbelievable; a corroded but definite soul.

Needless to say, The quintessential Evers performance is eminently, stoutly Bizarro Movie Night-worthy...

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