|THE ATOMIC BRAIN
|Copyright 1964 Cinema Venture
| Reviewed by Andrew Borntreger on 23 June 2007
- Nina - Good housekeepers come in small packages.
- Beatrice - A phobia of all things feline (or exhibiting cat-like behavior) might have saved her life. Ailurophobia Robustus? Electrocuted by her own eyeball.
- Anita - Has her brain scooped out and replaced with one from a cat. As a result, she starts eating rodents, licking herself clean, and hissing at people. Falls off the house and goes splat.
- Ms. March - Wealthy but miserable old woman.
- Dr. Frank - He perfected a process by which brains could be swapped between bodies, but failed to invent a pressure hatch with a safety release on the inside. Blown to bits.
- Dog Man - A Rottweiler's brain in the body of a corn-fed brute.
- The Brunette - Little more than a walking zombie. The good doctor says she turned out that way because too much time had elapsed between her death and his experiment. I think that he transplanted the brain of a blonde into a brunette. In either case, Dog Man uses her as a chew toy.
|While the idea of swapping brains between bodies is nothing new, this film is an enjoyable attempt to make a movie about the topic. Please notice that multiple transplants are conducted. We never see anyone with so much as a suture, let alone a shaved head. I love b-movies.
Dr. Frank's research into brain transplants, while promising, would hardly be called ethical - even by other mad scientists. Thus far his single success story is the bestial creature I nicknamed "Dog Man." The brain swapping process involves both surgery and immersion in a special cyclotron (it might be a reactor, I was never too clear on that part). Failures result in a bleached skeleton emerging from the vat, which fails to make any sort of sense unless the maniac sawbones is still experimenting to find the correct dosage of radiation required. If that is not the case, Dr. Frank should have a talk with the elves that live in his cyclotron.
Dr. Frank: "What are you doing in my cyclotron?"
Elves: "We check the bodies that you send down. If the surgery was completed in a satisfactory manner, we reanimate the corpse and send it back up. Otherwise, we tear off all the soft tissue and bleach it white for you."
Dr. Frank: "I thought radiation was what restored life to the corpses."
Elves: "Nope, just us."
Dr. Frank: "Well, if that is the case, could you not turn the body into a bare skeleton when I forget to connect a nerve ending or two?"
Elves: "No. Do a good job. Don't make us be the bad guys."
At least, that is how I imagine a conversation with the elves that live in atomic cyclotrons would go. My only personal experience with elves is the variety that rearranges your refrigerator at night. The kind that pushes everything you normally use to the back and puts the extra gallon of milk in front.
A major character throughout the movie is the Narrator. He also has some of the best lines, since he gets to talk about the characters and events from a third person perspective. It certainly added to the story when Dr. Frank takes Dog Man (I think his real name is "Hans") to the local cemetery to obtain some fresh specimens. The night watchman makes the fatal mistake of investigating the hammering sounds coming from a vault and is killed by Dog Man.
Somewhat of a rhetorical question, but would you want to be killed by a brute who refuses to snap your neck and bites you to death instead?
A murder investigation so close to the mansion and laboratory makes Ms. March nervous. The doctor's explanation of how he will deal with any discovery by the authorities only furthers her distress. You see, the doctor has a button that will overload the cyclotron. All evidence, along with the mansion and a few acres of surrounding countryside, will be destroyed in the process.
The reason for Dr. Frank's research might be plain mad scientist hubris, but the focus is dictated by his aging sugar mama. Ms. March intends to cheat death and finally possess a body, rather than a bank account, that men will die for. To realize her goal, the old vampire imports three housekeepers who have no close family or relationships. She immediately takes a liking to Beatrice's body, even caressing it with her cane while looking over the younger woman's firm thighs. I found it interesting that Bea giggles and seems to enjoy the attention. Even more interesting, I found Nina to be the most attractive. That might be attributable to her actually having a personality and acting with a level head throughout the film.
Beatrice is coddled, Nina is forced to perform all the hard work around the house, and Anita is immediately taken to the laboratory for a trial run. The unfortunate victim's brain is scooped out and replaced with that of a cat, though we never find out what was used to take up the extra space inside her skull. Either Anita had a very small brain inside of a very thick skull, or that cat brain was left to just roll around in there. Should the latter be true, jumping jacks or suddenly looking over her shoulder would probably be lethal to Cat-Nita. As it is, she tries to act like a cat and falls off the roof, but not before tearing out Bea's left eye. Now Nina is "Eligible Body Donor #1."
The two women, Nina and Bea, did make an escape attempt prior to the latter's disfigurement and partial blinding. They were thwarted by Ms. March poking around in the cellar and finding the lock that Nina broke off. A funny part happened after both of them descended a set of wooden stairs, but were forced to quickly run back up when Ms. March nearly discovered them in the stairwell. Since Nina and Bea were wearing high heeled shoes, they should have made a terrible racket running up bare wooden stairs.
That was the point when I was certain Nina would survive. She (and Bea) must be ninjas. At least one ninja always survives.
After the unpleasant old woman makes her final preparations to steal Nina's body (changing her will, preparing a cover story, etc.), Victor realizes that his own future is bleak. The only reason March kept him around was to use him. Once she has a pretty new body, she will have no need for his services. Nina recognizes Victor's discontent and uses it to her advantage, first to learn the truth and then to obtain his aid. He will help her escape if she agrees to his terms. Let us see here: support a leech and perhaps be groped from time to time or have your brain sucked out and replaced with the old crone's?
Not that it matters what Nina decides. Ms. March was eavesdropping the whole time and stabs Victor in the back. The brain transplant operation proceeds as planned. That is, it proceeds as Dr. Frank had planned. He does not lay a single latex-covered finger on Nina's cerebrum. Instead, the mad scientist puts March's brain into the cat's body that was leftover from his earlier experiment involving Anita (wow, the old bat had quite the small brain). March-Cat is upset and takes her revenge on the doctor by locking him inside the cyclotron, turning it on, and hitting the emergency destruct button. Do not worry, Nina escapes unharmed. Although, she does have a black cat shadowing her...
|Things I Learned From This Movie:|| |
- Dry ice is radioactive.
- Maids of a feather flock together.
- Muscles are ugly on a woman.
- Tin is the best insulator against gamma radiation.
- Being a mad scientist's pet involves an element of risk.
- There is more to it than simply landing on your feet.
- The quickest way to a man's heart is just below the left shoulder blade.
- Women have small brains.
- Never touch an eyeball that is not protected by a GFCI outlet.
- 1 min - Leeloo?
- 4 mins - Next time I visit a cemetery, I am checking behind every statue.
- 15 mins - Making love to an eighty-year-old woman in her original body does not sound too fun either.
- 16 mins - Who let the dog out...fine, I will stop.
- 30 mins - Give her wheelchair a solid push toward the stairs. That might be good for a few laughs.
- 34 mins - Will she go looking for the letter "C" next?
- 38 mins - That was an awkward reverse.
- 57 mins - How does it feel to be both bitter and unattractive?
- 59 mins - Except, "Meow!"
- Narrator: "This body had been in the vault only a few hours. Chances seemed better this time. Still, Dr. Frank was doubtful. Tissue in dead bodies deteriorates rapidly. Where were the live, fresh bodies he had been promised?"
| ||Audio clips in wav format||SOUNDS||Starving actors speak out|| |
||Narrator: "Is the next step the transplantation of the human brain? Many scientists answer, 'Yes.' but they pause and add a grim warning. For in the ancient folk legends tales are told of blood-sucking vampires, crawling out of graves to live on the bodies of helpless victims. Is man now doomed to produce a race of ever-living monstrosities?"
||Ms. March: "I still think you should have locked them up." |
Victor: "They're not about to leave this house after what they've witnessed."
||Nina and Dr. Frank argue.
||Ms. March: "You're not needed now, Victor. Close the door quietly when you go out." |
Victor: "I'm not going to be needed at all. That's what you're saying, isn't it?"
|Theme Song|| Listen to a clip from the soundtrack. |
| ||Click for a larger image||IMAGES||Scenes from the movie|| |
| ||Watch a scene||VIDEO||MPEG video files|| |
|Dr. Frank shows off Anita, now that she has a cat's brain. The fun thing here is to notice the conspicuous black "X" on the floor near Anita. For some reason, the doctor walks over and puts his left foot directly on top of the "X".
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