The Atomic Brain, Love After Death & The Incredible Petrified World
Image // Unrated // $19.99 // September 16, 2003
Review by DVD Savant | posted September 27, 2003
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Reviewed by Glenn Erickson

Something Weird has packaged two of the more famous 'worst films of all time' with an equally obscure (but even worse) feature onto one disc, and added a pile of schlocky horror trailers as a bonus. The good side to all this is that the quality is excellent - this is probably the best we're ever going to see these maladroit curiosities looking.
The Atomic Brain
Something Weird / Image Entertainment
1964 / B&W / 1:37 full frame / 72 min. / Monstrosity / Street Date September 16, 2003 / 19.99
Starring Frank Gerstle, Erika Peters, Frank Fowler, Judy Bamber, Marjorie Eaton, Margie Fisco, Lisa Lang
Cinematography Alfred Taylor
Electrical effects Ken Strickfaden
Film Editor Owen C. Gladden
Original Music Gene Kauer
Written by Sue Bradford, Dean Dillman Jr., Jack Pollexfen and Vy Russell
Produced by Dean Dillman Jr., Jack Pollexfen
Directed by Joseph V. Mascelli

Synopsis:

Dotty old Hetty March (Marjorie Eaton) pays Dr. Otto Frank's (Frank Gerstle) bills so he can run an atomic lab in her basement. He's transplanting brains; Hetty hopes he'll succeed so she can continue life living in a young body ... which she's already picked out! Nina Rhodes (Erika Peters), Bea Mullins (Judy Bamber) and Anita Gonzalez (Lisa Lang) come from Europe, and Hetty chooses Bea's body as the one she'd most like to seduce with. But there are other problems - Hetty has a lackey named Victor (Frank Fowler) who letches about and resents his duties, and Dr. Frank has a werewolf-like creature chained in the garden.

This is the aimless mad doctor movie where a cat is transplanted into the head of a woman, who subsequently eats a mouse and prowls around doing a laughable cat imitation. Possibly an excuse for the filmmakers to ogle the pretty models they've hired as the three female victims of mad surgeon Frank Gerstle (better known as soldiers and tough guy cops), The Atomic Brain is actually a television title for a film reviewed and dismissed by the critics under the name Monstrosity.

This is one of those 'narrated films', incompetently shot and acted with a complete lack of conviction by the three female leads. They have accents that come and go, and seem terribly aware that people off camera are looking at them make fools of themselves.

Sicko old lady Marjorie Eaton delights in having the three babes try on clothing, so she may gaze upon the body she'll have after the brain transplant. This goes on for reels, while the clumsy doctor can't seem to get consistent results twice from his brain-swapping procedure. He's got a normal woman who acts like a cat and a hulking man who looks like a fanged beast. A girl in the prologue is reduced to a skeleton by Gerstle's atomic transplant process, which seems to finish in an atomic oven.

The Atomic Brain has its own atomic pile of writers (one of them Jack Pollexfen of earlier Science Fiction efforts) that all must have seen Georges Franju's Eyes Without a Face (Les Yeux sans Visage). Semi-prisoner females are used as guinea pigs and sacrificial victims to restore youth and beauty to another woman. One victim falls from a high window trying to escape. Another is chlorformed in a parlor. There are incidental mutilations, etc., before the final curtain rings down with a Z-movie thud. The sexiest of the three ladies loses her life trying to retrieve one of her eyes from a lab table.

Although the copy on this disc is pristine, The Atomic Brain is one very sloppy movie, with amateur-poor sound and dismal cinematography. The title is fondly remembered from MST3K, where it apparently was a load of laughs. The Brain that Wouldn't Die is just as trashy and a lot more fun.

The extras include an alternate 'The Atomic Brain' title sequence.


Love After Death
Something Weird / Image Entertainment
1968 / B&W / 1:37 flat full frame / 72 min. / Unsatisfied Love / Street Date September 16, 2003 / 19.99
Starring Guillermo De Córdova, Gloris Garcia, Roberto Maurano, Carmin O'Neal, Angel Mario Ramirez, Yolanda Signorelli, Juan Torres
Cinematography Peter Palian
Written by Antonio Velazquez
Produced by Charles Abrams
Directed by Glauco Del Mar

Synopsis:

A man is buried alive, victimized by his doctor and his wife, who are two-timing him. He crawls from his grave immediately, and hunts them down for revenge. His wife says she got rid of him because he wouldn't make love due to an illness; now he's a sex fiend who attacks women and wanders into random sexual situations. Learning that his victim is still alive, the doctor dispatches two hit men to kill him again, along with the detective on the case.

This is about as low as they come. Apparently shot in Argentina but never released (there's no info on it under a Spanish title), this dreadful film sounds as if the English dub job was done without benefit of editorial equipment. There's a dreary voiceover, and words don't begin to match the actor's lips. The sound job is restricted to a couple of off-the shelf sound effects records and a half-dozen lame audio cues. In the big 'gunfight' scene, the final gunshot isn't heard; somebody forgot to put it in.

The film looks as if it was made by somebody that wanted to hire sexy women to disrobe on film, and has the ugly feel of a 60s soft-core porn loop. I hope the makers had fun, because the awful non-direction and purposelessness of the whole affair kills anything remotely sexy. The zombie star has an inappropriate smirk on his face much of the time. There are about 6 sexual encounters, each more boring than the last; the director tries to spice things up by putting two women together, having a woman turn out to be a man, etc.

I was expecting a finish along the lines of An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge, but the film opts for a twist-less twist ending that just leaves things hanging. Of the 72 minutes, there's at least 4 that advance the story; the rest is padding (running feet, etc) and the bad sex scenes. Not a pleasant experience.

The on-screen title is Unsatisfied Love. The print is again probably from perfect elements. For all we know, it was shot silent in Argentina, and this amateur finish was the first time it came together as a projectable (debatable thought) movie. Mike Vraney of Something Weird came across his immense library of films by buying an entire vault of unclaimed lab reels; it's possible that he doesn't know the film's production history either.


The Incredible Petrified World
Something Weird / Image Entertainment
1957 / B&W / 1:37 flat full frame / 70 min. / Street Date September 16, 2003 / 19.99
Starring John Carradine, Robert Clarke, Phyllis Coates, Allen Windsor, Sheila Noonan, George Skaff, Maurice Bernard
Cinematography Victor Fisher
Production Designer Marvin Herbert
Film Editor Harold V. McKenzie, James Sweeney
Original Music Josef Zimanich
Written by John W. Steiner
Produced and directed by Jerry Warren

Synopsis:

Professor Millard Wyman (John Carradine) loses an experimental diving bell, and is bereaving the loss of his four colleagues Craig Randall (Robert Clarke), Dale Marshall (Phyllis Coates) Paul Whitmore (Allen Windsor) and Lauri Talbott (Sheila Noonan). But the lost aquanauts have transferred themselves to a system of underwater caverns inhabited by a crazy Old Man (Maurice Bernard). Meanwhile, a sister diving bell is on the way to effect a rescue.

As a technical achievement, this poverty-stricken adventure is much more sophisticated than the two films above ... but that's not saying much.

Jerry Warren's films are technically competent in a minimal sense; there are fewer absurdities here than in the films of Ed Wood Jr, for instance. But Wood never made a movie that put an audience to sleep. Known facetiously as The Incredible Petrified Movie this is 70 static minutes in which nothing of importance seems to happen. It's one for Einstein to figure out: a relatively short film that's interminable. I had to watch it twice, as I kept nodding off. In the afternoon.

There's a diving bell that looks like an inflated balloon from the outside. Whether on the deck of its winch boat or underwater, the direction ducks the necessity of showing how people get in or out of it. The interior looks about 3 times the size of the exterior and is simply a semicircular wall. Half the show takes place in this non-set, all of it shot from the same angle. The divers are lost. They're perplexed. They exit and explore. But nobody seems to work up much of a sweat, unless it's to bicker and carp at each other. Eventually they end up in a maze of caverns (some of which seems to have been shot in a cave in Arizona) that is more boring than the diving bell, and at least as fake. When the rescue comes, we get a non-ending to a non-exciting film.

The sole reason to watch this turkey is John Carradine, who is consistently effective no matter what terrible scene he's given to play. All the semi- and non-actors around him just stand back, and he shines; the film actually seems like a movie for a few moments. Unfortunately, the other players, including the well-known Robert Clarke don't have his ability to emote, and their scenes are grim and slow. Get the picture?

The print of this bomb, so bad it was delayed two years for the bottom half of a rip-off double bill, is immaculate. The photography is basically good, and the sound recording not bad either, and it's a shock to see this looking better than it has a right to. It's been transferred flat, but by cropping the picture on a widescreen television, some of the sets look a little less ridiculous.

The extras contain a 1959 trailer for The Incredible Petrified World that starts with a line saying we'll never see another movie with the impact of this motion picture! Most of the trailer is stock footage of earthquakes and lava floes from One Million, B.C.. One long, uninterrupted piece of stock footage appears to be the 1940s scenes of an octopus fighting a shark, used by Ray Harryhausen in The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms (coming in October).


On a scale of Excellent, Good, Fair, and Poor,
The Atomic Brain, Love After Death, & The Incredible Petrified World rates:
Movie: 1) Poor 2) Poor 3) Poor; but that's not the point with these oddball turkeys
Video: 1) Good + 2) Good 3) Excellent
Sound: 1) Fair 2) Fair 3) Excellent
Supplements: alternate opening for The Atomic Brain; trailers, montage of covers of sleazy horror comix (70's, I'd say).
Packaging: Keep case
Reviewed: September 25, 2003



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