The Atomic Brain


Year 1963

Marjorie Eaton as  Hetty March
Frank Gerstle as Dr. Otto Frank
Frank Fowler as Victor
Erika Peters as Nina Rhodes
Lisa Lang as Anita Gonzalez
Bradford Dillman   as Narrator (uncredited)  
 
Director - Joseph V. Mascelli
Screenwriters - Dean Dillman Jr.
  - Sue Dwiggins
  - Jack Pollexfen
  - Vy Russell

I have no idea why this is an atomic brain. And not just any atomic brain but the atomic brain. This film is a poor, hayseed cousin to films like The Lady and the Monster (1944), Donovan's Brain (1953) and The Brain That Wouldn't Die (1962). By the time The Atomic Brain exploded in theaters, brain transplant movies were already past their half-life. Heck, it was already ripe for satire as in another 1963 movie Madmen of Mandoras (a.k.a They Saved Hitler's Brain).

That this is best that three, count 'em, writers could come up with means that at least one of them was footing the bill. (Actually, all three of them are listed as either producers or associate producers.) On the bright side, according to IMDb which refers to this movie as Monstrosity, none of the writers ever wrote another screenplay.

The plot is that a cranky old rich lady wants to have her brain transplanted into the body of a younger woman. The doctor, who's frequently duded up in a hazmat suit, has successfully transplanted the brain of a cat into the body of a younger woman. So, it must be safe. It couldn't have been anything but a success. I mean the cat woman actually chased a mouse. I'm convinced.

This woman, Anita (Lisa Lang) was one of three picked by old miser Hetty March (Marjorie Eaton) as a possible vessel for her grey matter. (Kind of puts a different spin on, "The old grey mare, she ain't what she used to be.") But this girl had a birth mark on her back, became flawed goods and the next subject of the Doctor. (His name is Doctor Frank. Short for Frankenstein? How clever!) So, cat Anita did real well with mice, but didn't quite get the hang of crossing a roof like nimble felines naturally do. Splat!

Have you ever been awake at 1 A.M., sort of dozing, when suddenly there's the sound of someone running across your roof? Cats do not tread lightly and they're sadistic beasts. We have one in our neighborhood that will sit on a fence and yowl until a dog comes out to bark at it. The cat won't make another sound, but the dog's barking will wake the entire neighborhood. Sadistic beasts.

Anyway, Anita was one of three girls that Hetty hired as maids. Well, ostensibly as maids. She wanted to choose one as her rebirth flesh. Each of these girls is supposedly a foreigner. Anita, purportedly Spanish, has no accent, and when she talks it's as if someone from Newark were saying things like, "Grass-yaz." The British girl can sometimes sound like a cockney or something. The German girl, Nina, doesn't even try to fake an accent.

The girl pretending to be British is also pretending to be pretty. She does have a nice figure and long legs. But there's one scene where she attempts a sultry walk to show off her rolling gait. I thought she would be Paul McCartney's next ex-wife her stride was so...wooden. Maybe that would've been a better subject for the film. It could have been renamed "The Atomic Leg" or hips or something.

After Anita is transformed it becomes a game of cat and mouse between Hettie and her henchmen and the two surviving mannequins. Exciting things happen like, they get caught trying to escape. Then, one gets hurt while wandering around just waiting to be attacked because the script says so.

Ooh! Ooh! I know! At the beginning of the movie, there's a grave robbing scene. Well, it's a crypt in a mausoleum, but it's being robbed by the Doctor with a crowbar. Rather than pry away any stone, though, he's using the crowbar as a club. Some genius!

Then there's the narrator. All through the movie, there's a narrator. Stating the obvious.

The best thing about this movie is it's running time. - only slightly more than an hour. But it'll seem a lot longer.

No nudity or blasphemy. No thrills, chills, or feelings of anything other than boredom.


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