Tuesday, June 14, 2011
The Brain from Planet Arous (1957)
The Brain from Planet Arous, written by Ray Buffum, directed by Nathan H. Juran, starring John Agar, Joyce Meadows and Robert Fuller (1957): Hilariously bad, blessedly short (70 minutes) D-Movie science fiction from the swingin' 50's. John Agar, the patron saint of bad actors, gives a command performance as Steve March, a nuclear scientist possessed by Gor, an intermittently incorporeal brain from, well, planet Arous.
Gor is an escaped criminal who intends to rule the Earth because he can blow stuff up by thinking about it. Also, he seems to be a sex addict. Maybe he should just run for Congress!
Steve and his friend Dan discover Gor inside one of those caves that are in every cheap movie and TV show made in California, in the heart of Mystery Mountain, which looks like a rocky hill in that valley that appears in every movie and TV show that needs a rocky valley (it's in the Gorn episode of Star Trek, I'm pretty sure). Gor kills Dan and possesses Steve. Steve tries to date-rape his fiancee, who is saved by her plucky dog and is surprisingly forgiving about the whole date rape thing. Steve emotes like a crazy man, with John Agar's superb acting being supplemented by wacky contact lenses and a surprisingly inspired shot of Steve's face taken through a water cooler.
Gor blows up a couple of model planes and demands that the rulers of the world bow down before him to so he can use humanity as a cheap labour force to build a space battlefleet and conquer the universe. Vol, apparently planet Arous's least competent police officer, shows up to stop Gor and, after telling the fiancee and her father that he has powers greater than Gor's, spends the rest of the movie hiding inside the body of the fiancee's dog.
But wait! Vol does tell us that Gor has to leave Steve's body every 24 hours to breathe. And when he does so he becomes solid, and can be killed with a blow to the part of the brain called the Fissure of Rolando. Huzzah! Is that a handy axe I see lying around Steve's living room?
Aside from wretched dialogue, terrible visual and special effects, and lousy acting, The Brain from Planet Arous also has hilariously off-beat voice acting for the character of Gor, world conqueror. And a plucky dog! And, so far as I could count, maybe two different sets, along with a lot of outdoor work, some stock footage of atomic explosions, and an inexplicably abrupt exit by Vol at the conclusion of the film. It's like the good brain suddenly remembers he left his car running. Recommended for sheer awfulness.
Extra points if you notice that the film seems to have loaned its plot to the 1980's sci-fi actioner The Hidden, starring Kyle MacLachlan and Claudia Christian's breasts.