The Atomic Brain
MONSTROSITY: THE ATOMIC BRAIN. 1961
Director: Joseph V. Mascelli

THE BRAIN THAT WOULDN'T DIE. 1962
Director: Joseph Green

Reviewed by Paghat the Ratgirl



The Atomic BrainDr. Frank (Otto Gerstle), not to be confused with Dr. Frankenstein, is transplanting animal brains into humans, & human brains into animals (not to be confused for Dr. Moreau either).

The human bodies he uses are reanimated corpses, brought to life by the magic of Atomic Energy. But they remain nearly brain dead, so he needs to do his experiments on much more freshly killed people.

Monstrosity or The Atomic Brain (1961) includes as local color such wonders as the dog-brain man who growls around the property; the cat-brain woman who eats live mice; & eventually a vengeful woman-brained cat.

The plot is thickened by a little button that all you need to do is push it to blow up the entire mansion & all evidence of the experiments. In fact all you'd need to do is put your elbow down in the wrong spot for the same result.

The Atomic BrainAn ugly creepy rich woman (Hetty Eaton) is funding the evil experiments because she wants the mad doctor to transplant her brain into a beautiful young woman's body. She has a couple young women imported to choose from, pawing them with perverse delight.

Dr. Frank has convinced himself the choicest beautiful young body would be more apt to fall in love with him if he doesn't remove her brain.

And sure, she might be grateful to be permitted to keep her brain, but how could he never suspect that escape rather than true love would turn out to be her greater concern?

If you're the sort to enjoy truly bad sci-fi, this one will prove truly bad enough & enjoyable. For non-purists, there's a Mystery Science Theater 3000 version that will be even more enjoyable for the smart aleck commentary.


The Brain that Wouldn't DieThe Brain That Wouldn't Die (aka The Head That Wouldn't Die, 1962) is a truer classic of no-budget shlock.

It has a ridiculous premise (mad scientist keeping his girlfriend's head alive while stalking the city for the perfect body), presented in maximumly ridiculous manner (talking head in a shallow pan). As if that weren't enough, there's the unseen monster-in-the-closet, a failed earlier experiment.

Ridiculousness can be found in many vintage sci-fi horrors, but what is less often encountered are such wonderful performances. That's not to say these are great actors, but they're not merely adequate, they're great at what they're doing.

Virginia Leith as Jan Compton, whispering her lines huskily, does the best job of an effective cast. Her horror upon waking after the car accident to discover she's now Jan in the Pan, & her quest for vengeance though only a head, are gloriously conveyed by the look in her eyes.

The Brain that Wouldn't DieJason Evers as Mad Doctor Bill is a more complicated wacko than most mad scientists. He has a lascivious streak along with a gentlemanly streak that causes women to trust him when they sure as hell shouldn't.

As the Mad Doc hunts for the perfect body to decapitate & give to his bodiless girlfriend, he meets a rather horny burlesque dancer eager to be seduced to a hip jazz soundtrack. Only the appearance of a witness keeps our mad scientist from killing her.

As the two burlesque queens (Bonnie Sharie & Paula Maurice) tussle on the floor each eager for the doctor's favors, he slips away to look elsewhere for an alternate victim.

He spots an old girlfriend (Adele Lamont) walking down the sidewalk & pulls his car over. She's happy to see him & invites him to an amateur beauty pageant where he can oggle sundry ladies, secretly shopping for the perfect body.

Once again there are too many witnesses for him to be the last person seen with any of these girls. But his old girlfriend happens to mention a girl with the most perfect body in the world (Lola Mason), who unfortunately has a scarred face.

The Brain that Wouldn't DieWith an evil glint in his eye, Mad Doc heads off to the woman's photography studio, where she hides half her face with her hair while renting that perfect body to lustful guys with cameras.

When Doc's alone with her, he claims he can fix her face, that she has to learn to trust people again, to trust him. The scoundral.

Each of the women who pass through the script turn in great little performances, but this last is the best of all the women except Jan the head.

When the telepathic Talking Head realizes from a distance what is in store for the scarred woman, her plan of vengeance takes on a heroic element of saving that girl's life even though the Head can't personally get out of the tray.

Other support roles are so well done, such as the guilt-ridden Igor-like assistant (Leslie Daniels), who hopes one day to have his crippled arm replaced with a good one, if the Mad Doc's methods of transplanation can only be perfected.

And the script milks the monster-in-the-closet routine. We're given more & more information about what's in there so that we have a pretty darned good idea of what it'll be -- a frankenstein monster made out of reinamated bits which afterward mutated.

We get so much amusing suspense ahead of time, that if all that popped eventually out of the closet was a guy in a conical hat it would've been enough.

But in fact he's a rather wonderfully hideous fellow (circus giant Eddie Carmel, who suffered from an actual glandular defect called "acromegaly"). His actions in service of the Whispering Head has a heroic quality that makes him more than just a monster.

Nine out of ten "so bad it's good" type films are really only so bad they're bad. But I just love this crappy film & recommend it to anyone who has ever loved a crappy film.

copyright by Paghat the Ratgirl



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