April 1, 2008

The Brain From Planet Arous

What would you do if you suddenly noticed concentrated bursts of gamma radiation coming from a nearby mountain? If you're anything like scientist Steve March, you grab your geiger counter and your best friend, leave your fiancee and her father to wash the dishes, and you go over there, that's what you do.

Enter Gor, a floating brain with eyes. He hijacks Steve's body and threatens every country on Earth and comes on to his fiancee, Sally. She and her father find help in another brain, Val, and together they must stop Gor from taking over the world.

Brain has all the staples of a typical 50s sci fi story: hobnobbing men who sweet-talk their loved ones into submission, goofy aliens, and complete trust in the US government. What sets this one apart is John Agar's portrayal of Steve, a man possessed by a criminal alien mind. When he's under Gor's influence he becomes genuinely scary, and you aren't sure what he might do. He even gets to wear cool black contacts. Look for an especially creepy shot of his possessed face from behind a glass water cooler as he tries to conceal his anguish.

The film spends a lot of time on the cheesy transparency-like effect of Gor going in and out of Steve's body. And there are several props that are so good you can even see the strings. So if you like horrible special effects you won't be disappointed. 

Beyond their need to save Steve, Sally and her father don't have much to do. And their reaction to meeting the good-guy-alien-brain is anything but convincing. They might act the same way if they were meeting an estranged family member.

The voice of Gor sounded like all men from that era -- old radio announcers who smoked. But I liked his attraction to Sally. He was a better kisser than Steve until he got forceful, another risky play for an older movie.

The music was odd, it sounded like Benny Goodman wanted to try his hand at scoring a science fiction movie. But it kept the pace going.

I give The Brain From Planet Arous 3.5 stars, one for each character.

What to eat with this movie: grilled tilapia on rice pilaf with a diet caffeine-free soda. Good brain food with a hint of camp.


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