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Atomic Brain, The

Entry updated 6 February 2023. Tagged: Film.

Film (1963; vt Monstrosity; vt The Brain Snatchers). Cinema Ventures/Emerson Film Enterprises. Directed by Joseph Mascelli and Jack Pollexfen (uncredited). Produced by Dean Dillman Jr and Jack Pollexfen. Written by Dillman, Sue Dwiggins, Pollexfen, and Vy Russell. Special effects by Ken Strickfaden. Cast includes Judy Bamber, Marjorie Eaton, Margie Fico, Frank Fowler, Frank Gerstle, Lisa Lang and Erika Peters. Narrator: Bradford Dillman. 64 minutes. Black and white.

Hetty March (Eaton), old, wealthy and unscrupulous, wants Dr Frank (Gerstle) to transplant her brain into the body of a suitably young, attractive woman (see Identity Exchange). Frank has developed a method of doing so using atomic power, after experiments on corpses stolen from a nearby cemetery – one result being a walking but mindless corpse (Fico). Three young women are lured to March's estate as candidates; Nina (Peters), Beatrice "Bea" Mullins (Bamber) and the more average-looking Anita (Lang). March's longtime assistant Victor (Fowler) helps with legal preparations for March to "will" her fortune and property to the victim. Anita has the brain of a Cat transplanted into her skull, resulting in a dangerous creature which eventually scratches out one of Bea's eyes before dying in a fall from the mansion's roof. Nina is selected for Hetty's transplant; Victor realizes he too is expendable, and agrees to help Nina and Bea escape but is murdered by Hetty with a long hairpin through the heart. Dr Frank pretends to carry out the intended procedure but, knowing that Victor has already had the March fortune assigned to Nina, instead transplants Hetty's brain into the body of another cat; he hopes Nina will finance his future experiments. But Hetty the cat activates a self-destruct device Frank has installed in his laboratory, killing him and (accidentally) Bea, who helps free Nina. Nina escapes the now-blazing mansion with the feline Hetty following, determined to have her vengeance.

This absurd film must rate near the bottom of all Horror in SF films; Pollexfen was involved with several sf films in the 1950s and 1960s: The Atomic Brain is easily the nadir of his efforts. At only 64 minutes, it is mercifully soon over, although its initial title Monstrosity remains apt. [GSt]


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