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Friday, August 17, 2018

Creature with the Atom Brain (1955)





The fabulous Fifties horror/sci-fi tradition continues here at the Horror Dude Blog. We’ve had some giant bugs, a ghostly figure from Vesuvius, and even a reanimated Spanish Conquistador. But I haven’t covered any Atomic horrors yet? I have to fix that.

Things kick off with an almost zombie like figure breaking into a mob establishment to murder the boss there. He seems to be bulletproof and incredibly strong. If that weren’t strange enough the prints from the scene come back belonging to a dead man! How can a corpse be walking around murdering people? Science has made some monsters by splitting the atom. Specifically, a German scientist has used his skills to reanimate the brains of the dead at the behest of his financial backer. One that also happens to be a criminal with an axe to grind. Now it is up to Chet the police scientist to track them down and defeat the creatures.

This is an incredibly cheesy movie from producer Sam Katzman, the man who also was responsible for The Zombies of Mora Tau which I’ve already reviewed for the site. While not as cool or spooky as that one Creature with the Atom Brain is a heck of a lot of fun. The plot jumps right into the action with the first scenes showing the murder of the mob boss. We are introduced to the scientist and his creations not long after. The writing and dialogue are pretty good, which isn’t a surprise. The legendary Curt Siodmak who wrote many of the classic Universal flicks, including the Wolfman as well as working with Val Lewton. Anything he wrote was quality and here it is no different.

Richard Denning portrays out hero Chet Walker. He does a decent job with dialogue that can be silly especially when it starts talking science. But Denning holds things together and lends some credibility to what is transpiring on the screen. Denning will also be familiar to fans of Creature from the Black Lagoon and also appears in The Black Scorpion that has itself already been a Fifties feature here on the Blog.

Science! 
In some way the movie explores some themes that are way ahead of their time and not something you would expect in a Fifties flick. When the controllers of the creatures figure out the army is tracking them with Geiger counters they threaten to kill innocent people if they don’t stop. They don’t and then we find out there are attacks on public transportation. The movie uses terrorism as a plot point! You don’t find that very often in these flicks. Considering how lighthearted much of the rest of the movie is I found this a bit disturbing. Memorable no doubt but it was creepy.

The creatures here, yes there are more than one regardless of the title, are simple but effective. They basically slap an appliance on the forehead and have them do the zombie shuffle around the sets. Easy to do but with the actor’s performances selling it they work as creatures. Especially when Chet’s friend Dave is killed and used to infiltrate the police department. There is a bit where you wonder if something bad is going to happen to Chet’s daughter as she is left alone with the now dead Dave. Of course, it turns out fine, unless you are the dolly!

While this isn’t one of the best it is highly entertaining. I’ve always considered it a classic cheesy movie written by someone who took every script and character seriously no matter how silly the setup. You just can’t go wrong with anything carrying Curt Siodmak’s name on it. I recommend this one.



© Copyright 2018 John Shatzer



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