The Head

Director: Victor Trivas

Reviewed by Paghat the Ratgirl

The HeadSurprisingly effective shlock horror with the look & feel of a 1930s B horror film, The Head (Die Nackte und der Satan, 1959) features a group of scientists conducting experimental transplants, using Serum Z to keep organs alive, even a head, separate from the body.

The lead scientist Dr. Abel is played by Michel Simon of Boudu Saved from Drowning (1932) fame. He comes off here as a good Boris Karloff type.

He hires an assistant who is not entirely in his right mind, one Dr. Ood, who is hiding a sinister past (probably a Nazi war criminal). He is eager to misuse Dr. Abel's new techniques.

When Dr Abel needs an emergency heart transplant, it doesn't go quite as planned, & Dr. Ood ends up keeping the old physician's head alive on a table.

The HeadThe FX for the severed head are simple & bizarre, appealingly disgusting & a mite less goofy than the head-in-a-cake-pan from The Brain that wouldn't Die (1962).

Inspector Sturm (Paul Dahlke) knows there's something strange afoot when a headless body is discovered. Dr. Ood has to be more careful about his mad-scientist doings.

There's a hunchbacked nurse, Irene (Karin Kernke), with a beautiful head which Dr. Ood transplants onto the perfect body of a stripper, Lily (Christiane Maybach). He is in love with his perfect creation, but Ilene is horrified to realize she has another woman's body & rejects Ood's love. It's a winningly corny reversal of Victor Frankenstein rejecting his creation.

The nutty story is wonderfully poker-faced & lurid; the b/w cinematography is pleasing; & the art & set design for all their simplicity is very appealing. The inspiration for this & similar films were actual experiments whose perpetrators had no idea how insane they seemed & perhaps had to be, as pridefully documented in the truly stomach-turning Experiments in Revival of Organisms (1940).

copyright by Paghat the Ratgirl

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