THE ATOMIC BRAIN (MONSTROSITY)
US, 1964, 68 minutes, Black and white.
Marjorie Eaton, Frank Gerstle, Frank Fowler, Erika Peters, Judy Bamba, Lisa Lang.
Directed by Joseph V. Mascelli.
Monstrosity is a conventional horror film. It was made in ten days in the mid-1960s. It is reminiscent in plot of many of the British Hammer horror films and horror films from other studios during this decade. However, it is not up to the mark set by many of these films.
The film is about brain transplants, especially about rich people wanting organ donors, especially brains so that they can live on. Marjorie Eaton portrays an old crone, rich, who has financed a scientist to experiment on brain transplants. She invites three young women who are orphans to be the prospective bodies in which her brain can live. There are complications with her live-in man, Victor, who eventually turns against her and defeats her plans. She is also defeated by the doctor who decides to transplant her brain into her cat. With tongue in cheek, this is a humorous enough ending, especially as the cat is able to destroy the doctor!
The film is interesting because it is the only film directed by cinematographer Joseph V. Mascelli. A celebrated war cinematographer, he also photographed the first H-bomb tests. He published a book in 1965 about cinematography which has served as a classic for future directors of photography.
1.The popularity of this kind of horror film? Brain transplants? Evil doctors? Wealthy patrons? Organ donations?
2.The B-budget, black and white photography, the mansion, the laboratory, the rooms? The musical score?
3.The plausibility and implausibility of the plot, Doctor Frank and his laboratory, his experiments? The failures – and the monster in the garden? His working for Mrs March? The interviewing of the three women? The experiments and the procedures?
4.Mrs March, selfish, wealthy, using Victor? Unscrupulous? Controlling Doctor Frank? The three women, the interviews, her peremptory manner? The clash with Victor? His turning against her? Her cat? Undergoing the procedure, her taunting Doctor Frank, his decision to transfer the brain to the cat? The cat and its turning on the machine, destroying Doctor Frank?
5.Doctor Frank, the mad scientist, his calm manner, his explanations of his work? Under Mrs March’s domination? His sympathy for the girls? His change of heart against Mrs March, the cat, his death?
6.Victor, his being part of the household, the long-time companion? At Mrs March’s? beck and call, her taunting him? Attracted by the girls? His change of heart, his being killed?
7.The three girls, their arrival, the mystery, the Latin-American?, the Englishwoman, the Austrian? In themselves, the arrival, the inspection? The disappearance of Anita? Bea and her being chosen, on the roof, the accident? Nina and her being the centre of the action? Trying to get the key from Victor? The procedure, her being saved?
8.The blowing up of the laboratory? The survival of the cat? Nina as a rich woman? The popularity of this kind of science fiction story?