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A SIERRA NEVADA
(MICHAEL MADSEN & JOHN SAVAGE).
Have you read my review of THE BRAIN THAT WOULDN'T DIE? Yeah, this is another SciFi "Brain" movie from the early 1960s.
Some movies are just so awful that they endure for no other reason but that they are just that bad. Plenty of overly-vocal critics decry the So-Bad-It's-Good ethos, but that doesn't stop it from existing and growing. The fact that a huge number of ever changing DVD distributors feel compelled to make their bread and butter on the backs of these public domain movies - and actually succeed at it - only means that whoever let these movies go to public domain was a fool. There's still tons of money to be made off of them. And I'm not talking miniscule little midwest video distributors. Even the American Movie Channel got into the act, releasing this dross on DVD.
Take for example, this movie, THE ATOMIC BRAIN.
This awful offal starts out with a narrator (Bradford Dillman: JIGSAW, FEAR NO EVIL, THE MEPHISTO WALTZ, ESCAPE FROM THE PLANET OF THE APES, REVENGE, THE RESURRECTION OF ZACHARY WHEELER, MOON OF THE WOLF, CHOSEN SURVIVORS, THE DISAPPEARANCE OF FLIGHT 412, DEMON, DEMON BUG , THE SWARM, PIRANHA, LORDS OF THE DEEP) who talks through the whole movie right up until the very end. Affecting a jaded, cigarette voice, he casts his snarky judgements on everyone and enlightens nothing. Nothing he says throughout the movie does anything to expand the story and in fact, we almost immediately see what he is telling us. It's like someone sitting with you and describing the movie for a blind person.
And yet, its 1964 and it's a time when an inordinate number of people still believe that radiation could make small insects grow into giant ants or massive angry green men. Before you sneer at their ignorance, remember how many science fiction movies today feature an idiot's understanding of nanotech, genetics, and climate.
So don't get smart, wisenheimer!
Anyway, Doctor Otto Frank (Frank Gerstle: THE MAGNETIC MONSTER, D.O.A., THE NEANDERTHAL MAN, KILLERS FROM SPACE, THE WASP WOMAN, SHOCK CORRIDOR, THE FOUR SKULLS OF JONATHAN DRAKE) nabs the dead bodies of human women from the cemetery, replaces their human brain with an animal brain (like a dog or cat) and reactivates the brain with atomic fission produced in a cyclotron (don't get smart. I'm warning you! STAR TREK! STARSHIP TROOPERS! Visible laser beams! Sound in space, sucker!).
For Doctor Otto, the upshot of all of this is that IF he can make this work steady (he has more failure than success) then lots of wealthy women, like his current benefactor, 80 year old Miss Hetty March (Marjorie Eaton: ZOMBIES OF MORA TAU, NIGHT TIDE, THE KILLING KIND, THE REINCARNATION OF PETER PROUD, CARDIAC ARREST, THE ATTIC), will pay him tons of money to transplant their old brains into the kidnapped bodies of young, beautiful women.
Since the dead bodies aren't working for Doc Otto's experiments, Miss March puts out an ad in newspapers looking for young women to be her maid. March lives near Hollywood, so there are any number of beautiful women in the world who want free airfare there. Women respond from all over earth, sending their resumes along with their photographs. March picks only the ones that she feels are the most beautiful: the ones she would like to be.
Soon Miss March is personally investigating three girls, even having them remove their clothes so she can get a good look at all of their naked bodies and determine which one she would most like to be. The three young women, Anita Gonzalez (Lisa Lang) from Mexico, the giggly and daft Beatrice 'Bea' Mullins (Judy Bamber: A BUCKET OF BLOOD) from Denmark (Worst! Accent! Ever!), and the American, Nina Rhodes (Erika Peters: MR. SARDONICUS, HOUSE OF THE DAMNED), don't realize this of course. They think Miss March is concerned about possible health issues. Miss March chooses Beatrice and treats the other two like the expendable experiments they will soon be.
There are the standard stupid creature feature things from that era to be found in this flick. There is an Igor-type: A human who had his brain removed and transplanted with the brain of a dog. For some reason, this caused an otherwise human man to grow tusks (Don't you make fun of the science! I'm serious! Humans are batteries in THE MATRIX! Don't forget that!). I don't know of any tusked dogs, but since I'm not up on the latest in current atomic animal brain to human body transplants, maybe there was a reaction.
In the interim, Doctor Otto lets his failures wander around his lab like silent (non-rotting, non-cannibal) zombies. The narrator and Miss March's manservant/gigolo Victor (Frank Fowler) make it clear that the lovely brainless zombie women have other "amusing" uses for the doctor.
The best part of the story is the three girls, their unraveling of the mystery, and the doom which will befall them. Unfortunately that's a brief part.
According to IMDb, there were two directors on this flick, Joseph V. Mascelli and the uncredited Jack Pollexfen. Who dropped the ball and who did clean-up is anyone's guess. I'm guessing that Mascelli dropped the ball and Producer Pollexfen (THE MAN FROM PLANET X, SWORD OF VENUS, PORT SINISTER, THE NEANDERTHAL MAN, DRAGON'S GOLD, INDESTRUCTIBLE MAN, DAUGHTER OF DR. JECKYLL), did clean-up but didn't want his name attached as Director. This is pure speculation based upon the fact that this is Joseph's only feature as a director and Jack had previously directed DRAGON'S GOLD and INDESTRUCTIBLE MAN.
Jack Pollexfen is also credited as one of the writers, along with Vy Russell (INDESTRUCTIBLE MAN), Sue Dwiggens (INDESTRUCTIBLE MAN), and Dean Dillman Jr., (his only title as writer and producer).
Inexplicably, composer Gene Kauer (THE ASTOUNDING SHE-MONSTER, THE CAPE CANAVERAL MONSTERS, THE BEAST OF YUCCA FLATS, THE ICE HOUSE, CLAWS, MONSTROID) thought it would be a great idea to have a woodwind section and a xylophone player, play silly, cartoonish music throughout this film. What no doubt saved THE ATOMIC BRAIN was the fact that at some point, hormonal teenage boys would get to see nearly naked women, their goodies covered by only a thin metal strap.
While never plodding, the ridiculous Loony Tunes music, coupled with the narrator, uneven direction, and poor acting makes this one a clunker. This movie was also the Swan Song of all three young actresses. Since THE ATOMIC BRAIN is also a retelling of Mary Shelley's FRANKENSTEIN, THE ATOMIC BRAIN, with a title change (something other than Monstrosity), is also ripe for a reboot. Of course, you'd need a much better director than Joseph V. Mascelli, and these days, they're not easy to find.
Two Shriek Girls.
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