The Atomic Brain 2004 Horror Movie Review
Horror movies Review
Not likely to attain cult classic status, “The Atomic Brain” concerns a rich old woman, Mrs. March (Marjorie Eaton), who is funding researcher Dr. Otto Frank (Frank Fowler) to discover a way to transplant her brain into a younger woman’s body. Otto has a small nuclear reactor in the basement of Mrs. March’s house. The laboratory set looks even cheaper than similar stuff on the original “Outer Limits” television show.
The scientific basis behind Otto’s experiments and the need to radiate his subjects is never adequately explained, obviously they needed the reactor to justify the original “Atomic Brain” title, the word fission is unconvincingly thrown around several times. I can only assume that the alternate title, “The Monstrosity”, is someone’s comment on the quality of the film. At the start of the movie Otto’s success has been limited to the transplant of a dog’s brain into a man (who has large teeth and looks a bit like the goon in one of shorts featuring “The Three Stooges”).
Mrs. March is encouraged when the doctor steals a woman’s corpse from the graveyard and reanimates it to zombie status. Needing fresh living bodies for her transplant she hires three attractive young girls from Europe serve as housekeepers. Mrs. March has no other staff at her mansion, only a wimpy “companion and gigolo” guy who is turned on by the young girls. His name is Victor and the narrator sums up his motivation with the movie’s best lines: “Three new bodies. Fresh, live, young bodies. No families or friends within thousands of miles, no one to ask embarrassing questions when they disappear. Victor wondered which one Mrs. March would pick. The little Mexican, the girl from Vienna, or the buxom blond? Victor knew his pick, but he still felt uneasy, making love to an 80 year old woman in the body of a 20 year old girl; it’s insanity!”
Despite the low budget and feeble scripting, the movie is not entirely awful. Eaton (who played the fortune teller in cult classic “Night Tide”) is wonderfully evil and nasty. Fowler (a veteran of countless golden age television classics) is amusing as your basic mad scientist, and the house itself is appropriately sinister. In fact, when the girls first arrive I thought that it might actually turn into a decent film as things get very spooky and suspenseful. Unfortunately the three actresses (none of whom did any subsequent film work) are not up to even modest acting challenges and things pretty much fall apart until a nice twist at the end (which would have worked much better if they had not spoiled it with a second twist). Despite the frequent use of a narrator to explain much of the story, so much happens off camera that is never explained that it is likely there was a much longer original version that was extensively trimmed to get to the present 72 minute running length. This much slash and burn editing does have the benefit of requiring viewers to exercise their own atomic brains whenever a narrative gap occurs. But the story follows the genre’s formula so closely that it is not too difficult to fill in the blanks each time this occurs.
Only fans of bad 50’s-60’s science fiction are likely to ever actually watch “The Atomic Brain” and they should find it fairly representative of this genre. At least the premise is decent, with a significantly bigger budget for sets and competent supporting cast members it could have been an entertaining movie.
Then again, what do I know? I’m only a child.