The Brain from Planet Arous (1957)

Welcome to the Nation of Jabootu stop on the Brainathon '99 Tour!

Hmm. As our regular readers know, I usually start these things with a time-wasting dissertation relating to the current subject of examination. However, I already discussed ’50s cheese horror/sci-fi movies in my From Hell it Came review, so…Brain Pictures, I guess.

Brain Pictures have been a surprisingly popular micro-genre over the years. (That’s not even counting the more numerous ‘Living Head’ movies.) These tend to fall into two categories: Subjugated brains held captive by some Mad Scientist planning to harness their awesome mental powers for nefarious purposes, and Evil Brain pictures. And indeed, except for Space Children, wherein a Benevolent Giant Space Brain (you know the kind) comes to save humankind from nuclear extinction, and the heroic but subsidiary BGSB ‘Vol’ in this picture, Living Brains tend to be evil.

Presumably, this stems from the same fears that drive the Mad Scientist trope in general: Extraordinary Mental Ability unrestrained by either belief in God (Mad Scientists) or by the human heart (Evil Brains) will invariably turn malign. After all, the real world is all too full of proof that smarts and wisdom are two entirely different things. For instance, Jean Paul Sartre made a second career out of defending Joseph Stalin, the greatest mass murderer our species has yet to produce.

On the other hand, this fear also drives some rather ludicrous anti-intellectualism. Take those periodic ‘news’ stories describing some class of second graders sending crayoned drawings to the White House, urging the President to do away with nuclear weapons or end racism or something. These reports invariably end with some overpaid and overcoifed newsreader sagely nodding and mumbling something about ‘from the mouths of babes.’

Or how about those agitprop Captain Planet cartoons, featuring a superhero who derives his powers from five rings representing Earth, Wind, Water, Fire and Heart. Would it really hurt him to toss an extra ‘Brain’ ring in there? Maybe then the good Captain would perform a cost/benefit analysis before promoting another intrusive batch of government regulations on toilet flow capacity.

For their part, Mad Scientists and Evil Brains tend to feel divorced from their cognitive inferiors. And since normal folks are too stupid to understand that which their intellectual superiors perceive with their vast mental apparatus, they have little compunction in ignoring pea-brained objections about morality and whatnot. In fact, as we know, the average Mad Scientist is most likely driven by the desire to show up those puny intellects who “called me mad!”

The most influential work in the Evil Brain genre is Curt Siodmak’s novel Donovan’s Brain. This related the story of a scientist who kept the brain of a deceased financier alive (in a tank, of course), only to have the Brain begin to take control of him. The tale was frequently adapted for radio, including a classic episode of Suspense featuring Orson Welles. The first film adaptation of the novel was 1944’s The Lady and the Monster, starring Nancy Davis, later Nancy Reagan. The book was subsequently adapted for 1953’s Donovan’s Brain and 1962’s West German flick The Brain.

Films in this area scale the heights of Forbidden Planet (not strictly a Living Brain movie, but one that details the hazards of becoming so smart that you forget where you came from, and which thus is thematically similar) and plummet to the depths of 1988’s The Brain, a rather silly Canadian picture featuring a man-eating Giant Brain (with a face, yet) that causes people to commit suicide with its immense mental powers.

Other prominent Brain Pictures include the delightfully loopy Fiend Without a Face, featuring a horde of stop-animated leaping brains; Journey to the 7th Planet, an Evil Giant Space Brain movie that rips off Ray Bradbury’s The Martian Chronicles (see Liz’s And You Call Yourself a Scientist! site for a review of this winner); the typically wacky Mexican Wrestler opus Neutron vs. The Death Robots; and even our own Frankenstein Island, which features a living brain as one of its three thousand ridiculous and unconnected sub-plots.

The Brain from Planet Arous

Yet there’s little doubt that the Big Mamoo in the field is The Brain From Planet Arous. This is partly due, no doubt, to the fact that the Evil Brain here, Gor, is a big glowing floating jobbie with eyes and his own voice. This gives him a personality and a physical presence far beyond that of your more typical brain-in-a-fish-tank menace. Gor also, as we shall see, is one of filmdom’s lustier brains.

More than that, though, The Brain From Planet Arous is emblematic of ’50s cheeseball sci-fi movies. Of the literally hundreds of such flicks turned out during the decade, few represent the breed better than this. The madcap disregard for scientific laws, the abject seriousness of the presentation, the breakneck pacing, the blatant (for its time) sexual connotations of the material, the straight-faced and unapologetic presentation of intrepidly inadequate special effects, the tendency to attempt stories of potentially world-wide (here, in fact, galaxy-wide) destruction on a shoestring budget, all are characteristic of the field.

As well, the film sports a couple of names to be reckoned with, at least for the Bad Movie buff. Let’s start with director Nathan Juran. Beginning as an art director, Juran worked on such mainstream pictures as How Green Was My Valley (which famously beat Citizen Kane and eight other nominees to win the Best Picture Oscarâ„¢ for 1941) and Winchester ’73. Then, with the Boris Karloff gothic thriller The Black Castle, he segued into directing. Juran made a number of genre pictures, the best being the Ray Harryhausen classics 20 Million Miles to Earth and The Seventh Voyage of Sinbad.

He also produced some B-movie doozies. Under his own name, he directed the seemingly inevitable The Deadly Mantis. Meanwhile, under the comical alias of Nathan Hertz, he directed not only The Brain From Planet Arous, but the seminal (or ovinal) Attack of the 50 Foot Woman and the Ronald Reagan/Nancy Davis potboiler Hellcats of the Navy.

Next up is All-Star Jabootian John Agar. Agar is so well regarded, in fact, that the Medveds, the pioneers in our field, nominated him for The Worst Actor of All Time in their massively influential The Golden Turkey Awards. Agar didn’t win, but when your competition includes Tony Curtis, Victor Mature and the triumphant Richard Burton, just getting nominated is an honor.

Agar first caught the attention of the public as a former Army sergeant who married the then seventeen year old Shirley Temple. This undoubtedly helped his acting career (at first), as the publicity resulted in a studio contract that had him appearing in such John Wayne classics as She Wore a Yellow Ribbon, Fort Apache and The Sands of Iwo Jima.

Ultimately, however, the marriage had it’s drawbacks. Agar was widely mocked by wags as being ‘Mr. Shirley Temple.’ Even after the marriage ended in divorce, Agar was haunted by it. During one of his then periodic liquor-related court appearances, he tried to explain that his substance abuse problems began during his unhappy marriage. This resulted in the irate judge warning him, “Don’t try to blame this on Shirley Temple!”

Agar’s professional woes began with a slate of lead roles in such comparatively solid Universal sci-fi’ers as Tarantula, The Mole People and Revenge of the Creature (the first Creature from the Black Lagoon sequel). Then the slide got steeper, with starring roles in such dubious cinematic fare as Daughter of Dr. Jekyll, Attack of the Puppet People, Invisible Invaders, Hand of Death, Journey to the Seventh Planet (two Evil Giant Space Brain movies!), Women of the Prehistoric Planet and even a cameo in Dino De Laurentiis’ King Kong.

And these are just his sci-fi films, and hence the ones I’m familiar with. Heaven knows what his extensive roster of cheapo westerns is like. For instance, he appeared in the oater Star in the Dust opposite Navy vs. the Night Monsters star Mamie Van Doren and Last Dinosaur lead Richard Boone. Now there’s a cast!

Moreover, how many actors can boast of starring in two Larry Buchanan epics and still not claim them as his worst movies? Yep, apparently while down South to shoot Zontar, The Thing from Venus and Curse of the Swamp Creature, Agar also had time to appear in the hopelessly obscure Night Frights, a film even I had never heard of until about three months ago. Purchasing a copy from Movie Unlimited, I was astounded to watch a flick that for all the world comes off like an imitation Larry Buchanan film. (!!)

You might think I’m kidding. However, a quick check I just now made to Michael Weldon’s invaluable Psychotronic Video Guide (Buy this book! And the earlier Psychotronic Encyclopedia of Film!) confirms that the film was shot by Buchanan’s assistant director. Now there’s a credential! Imagine being the assistant director to Larry Buchanan!! I’m not surprised, though. After all, the incredibly stilted direction coupled with Buchanan regulars Agar and Bill Thurman simply screamed a connection of some sort.

On to our film. We open on a shot of a mountain, accompanied by a somewhat less than ominous tuba score. As the credits (*ahem*) unroll, a scratch in the film, er, UFO, is seen approaching the mountain from the sky. Then we cut to a stock footage explosion, presumably informing us that said UFO has landed.

Cut to Steve (Agar), standing amongst the usual collection of glassware and Radio Shack knock-off electronics that represent laboratories in these things. He superficially examines his equipment, frowningly noting that everything seems to check out. He exclaims that this “doesn’t make any sense,” a statement that will prove increasingly prescient as the film progresses. At this we pan over to the part of the laboratory that’s a living room. There we spot fellow scientist Dan, seen reading a science fiction magazine. Presumably meant as a winking gag, this is about as good as the film gets.

Since Dan isn’t paying attention, Agar runs over and grabs his magazine. I suppose he’ll throw it into his desk and keep it until the semester’s over. Steve notes that the Geiger Counter’s been “going on and off all morning.” (Yeah, that’s sorta worrisome, I guess). Furthermore, the “Nucliometer [?] checks right along with it.” Hmm, if only he’d thought to check his Brainiometer he might have figured out what’s going on.

Dan also proves less than astute. First he gets us on his side by telling Steve that he “sounds like a man with rocks in your heads.” However, he then messes things up by noting that “radioactivity’s a constant thing.” Well, yes, background radiation. Maybe that’s why Steve finds this turn of events so bewildering. Dan is interrupted by the loudly clicking Geiger Counter, and finally has to admit that something’s up.

He tosses out some potential explanations, including the all-purpose “blast of Cosmic energy from the sun.” Boy, those solar flares get blamed for everything. Uh-uh, Steve replies, it’s all emanating from one spot, thirty miles away from the lab at (bum Bum BUM!) Mystery Mountain. (I’m not even going to ask how he figured out where the radiation’s coming from.)

Sally, Steve’s girlfriend, enters the set. Uh, I mean, lab. “Anyone here?” she cries, despite the fact that Steve and Dan are standing more-or-less directly in front of her (albeit off-camera). Pretending to ‘notice’ them, she proclaims that it’s three o’clock and they still haven’t had lunch yet. Every lab needs a chick to keep track of these things. Still, she could have brought them some coffee while she was coming over.

“No wonder I’ve been getting insulting messages from my stomach!” Dan joshes. Hmm, I’m getting insulting messages from an organ, too, but it’s not my stomach. In fact, I seem to get these messages quite often. Usually when I’m reviewing one of these movies.

As they all look over Steve’s map, he explains that “something’s happening over at Mystery Mountain.” “Mystery Mountain!” Sally exclaims. (Why is it that whenever I hear that name, I keep thinking that we’re going to find a group of smugglers who will be exposed by the Hardy Boys?)

In case we’re wondering why it’s called Mystery Mountain, Dan expositories that it’s the “most Godforsaken spot on the desert.” Yes, I guess that explains it. “Hasn’t seen a human being since 1900,” Dan continues, “when the prospectors gave it up.” Well, if I were a Evil Giant Space Brain, that sounds like just the right place to land.

The Geiger Counter goes off again. (Shouldn’t these guys put on some lead pants or something?) “Look at that dial! Twenty milirinks!” Steve exclaims (or something). “By infra-square that’d be…” Steve looks over to Dan. “Dan, we’re going over to Mystery Mountain!” Zoinks! Better call Scoob and the gang, while you’re at it. (“Jinkies, the Evil Giant Space Brain is Mr. Jenkins, the caretaker.” “That explains the phosphorus paint we found, alright.” “And I’d have gotten away with it, too, if it weren’t for you meddling kids and your dog!”)

Dan and Sally protest this plan. “Not before we eat!” Dan replies. “No,” agrees Sally with horror, “I’ve got the fires down to a beautiful coal on the barbecue!” Placing a comical, or something, pith helmet on Steve’s head, she orders him to dine first. The chastened Steve meekly follows.

Why a pith helmet was just sitting around on Steve’s workbench is another mystery. Especially since it clearly wasn’t there in a shot about a minute ago. Of course, I’m sure that the producers of flicks like this had no idea that folks would still be watching them forty years after they were made, much less freeze-framing the film to look for continuity errors.

Now you don't see it......Now you do!

Cut to Dan, sniffing burgers on the grill, which is actually inside the house in the fireplace. (This must have seemed very modern in the ’50s.) Steve, meanwhile, stands near by with a highball. Dan starts picking at the salad, only to have his knuckles rapped with a spoon by Sally. She asks Steve what he expects to find out there. “Spooks,” Dan comically replies, “gotta be spooks.” Boy, you just know this guy’s gonna get it.

The boys are joined on the patio by Mr. Fallon, Sally’s father. Fallon’s surprised to hear of their plans to visit Mystery Mountain. “It must be at least a hundred and twenty degrees in the desert!” he asserts. Dan again agrees. (Actually, since we’ve been told that there’s a Army base nearby conducting nuclear bomb testing, we have to wonder why they haven’t noticed this phenomena. Or why Steve doesn’t call them and have them investigate.)

“There’s a hot blast of Gamma coming from Mystery Mountain,” Steve explains. “That’s cause enough for any scientist to go into the desert!” (Unless they’re military scientists, I guess.) “Lucky it’s intermittent,” he continues. “If it was constant we’d be fried!” Dan complains again about the desert heat frying them anyway, and Steve offers to go alone. Dan was only kidding, though, and drolly warns Steve not to try anything without him. “Please remember, Steve, I’m your brain,” he notes. Boy, that’s pretty ironic, wouldn’t you say? And I thought Shakespeare was the master of foreshadowing.

After some ‘comical’ banter over lunch (which, to be fair, is lame rather than excruciating), we cut to Steve and Dan driving across the desert in their jeep. I…YAHHHH!!

Oh, sorry. The sight of a jeep driving across the desert reminded me of the hours of such footage in Commando Girls (qv). Whew. OK, I’m better now.

So the jeep drives around a while (this also is reminiscent of Eegah!), and finally they arrive at…Mystery Mountain. (bum Bum BUM!) Steve drives into a huge rock, and then notes that the ground is too rocky to go any farther in the jeep. To Dan’s continued grousing, they assemble their gear to proceed on foot.

As they pack, Steve asks Dan to try out the ‘sinilator’ (or something). This proves to be a device resembling an Art Deco hair dryer attached to a black box. I assume this is supposed to be a directional Geiger counter. Dan reports that they’ve no reading. Steve, however, spots something with his binoculars. He hands Dan the glasses. “A pile of rocks,” Dan notes. “It wasn’t there last winter!” Steve replies. (bum Bum BUM!)

OK, first, I guess that it’s impossible that a minor rockslide occurred from off of the mountain. Second, Steve seems to have a surprisingly deep knowledge of an area that we were earlier told “hasn’t seen a human being since 1900.”

Dan and Steve collect their gear (rock hammer, flashlights, rifle, sinilator). However, Dan, who constantly is complaining of the heat, somehow manages to leave his canteen behind. (So much for his being the brains of the outfit.) This in spite of the fact that Dan had laid it on a waist-high rock about two feet in front of both of them. This makes it somewhat hard to believe that neither would have noticed it as they walked directly past it. Just so we ‘get’ that this is bad, the camera pans to the canteen and an ominous music cue sounds.

After a short but arduous journey, Our Heroes find a cave at the base of the mountain. Boy, good thing they both brought flashlights. (Our present location, by the way, is the ubiquitous Bronson Canyon, well know to fans of cheesy sci-fi and western flicks. In fact, I think that this is the same cave that Ro-Man of Robot Monster made his home in.) “It’s just been blasted out recently!” Steve notes. “That explains that pile of rocks!” Yep, he’s a scientist, all right.

Dan posits that someone went to a lot of trouble. Steve replies that no one’s in fact been here, noting the lack of footprints. They enter the cave, with a bit of fog provided to give their flashlight beams an atmospheric ‘light saber’ effect. A bit into the cave, Steve comes to a dead end. Suddenly (as if we weren’t expecting it) the Geiger counter goes wild. In fact, given that the dial is pointing all the way to the wrong end, I’d have to assume that these two are terminally poisoned.

Apparently unconcerned, Steve points them back towards the source of the activity. (They seem at this point to be quite a bit farther into the mountain than was previously indicated.) A mysterious light flashes, and ‘eerie’ music cues us that something, well, eerie is happening. Shortly after, the counter stops clicking. “It’s as cool as a well-digger’s foot,” Dan notes. (I can think of another analogy, but they probably couldn’t have used it in 1958.)

Steve has Dan turn off his light, and a glow from their left becomes noticeable. (Starts up, actually.) They head towards the passage from which it’s coming. (Again, this cavern seems much bigger than when they entered it.) “Hello,” Steve calls. “We’re friends, come on out.” This might seem more reassuring were not Steve and Dan standing there with guns at the ready. The light goes out.

Before entering the passage, they both rack a shell into place to ready their guns. (This, at least, makes the film more knowledgeable about firearms than many others. On the other hand, they are oddly well spotlighted, considering their circumstances.) Mysteriously, they quickly come to another dead end.

As they discuss this conundrum, the Geiger counter again goes nuts. Suddenly, a badly composited and therefore transparent Giant Floating Brain appears, with ominous eyes, in fact. (The transparent part might be described as Amazing Colossal Man-itis.) Of course, Steve’s first reaction as a scientist to a floating Giant Brain is to begin blazing away at it with his pistol.

The shock of a giant space brain appearing is somewhat lessened to those who knew the film's title.Look, something I've never seen before! Quick, shoot it!!

Steve falls to the ground in agony, as Dan continues to fire upon it. Then he too drops, as a bright flash of light indicates something nasty befalling him. At this, the brain turns even more transparent, shrinks, and in a pretty poor effects shot ‘enters’ Steve (i.e., is superimposed over him and then disappears).

Cut back to the Fallon’s house. Here the camera frames George, Sally’s large but friendly German shepherd. The phone rings and Sally answers it. It’s her father, asking if she’s heard from Steve or Dan in the week (exposition!) since they left. Sally replies in the negative, but is unconcerned. The boys often act like this when on a field trip.

At this point, an ominously lit Steve appears at the window off to Sally’s right. Sally sees him (although she’s clearly staring straight ahead of her, and thus looking in the wrong direction) and runs out to embrace him. Steve tells her that they found nothing in the cave. He then gets a little more amorous with the smooching than is usual, especially as they’re not married yet (remember, this is the ’50s). A bit staggered, Sally replies that, “You’ve never kissed my like that before. Wow!”

Sally asks where Dan is. Steve notes that he went to Las Vegas to recuperate from their junket. However, as he does so his exaggeratedly wily expression cues us to the fact that something’s up. (In case the giant brain disappearing into his body was too subtle.) Sally, being an intuitive chick and all, notes that Steve seems different somehow. Steve notes that he’s “the some old lovable character I ever was,” then falls into a veritable Shatner-esque fit of agony. A tuba blares to let us know that this isn’t good.

Steve tries to act like nothing happened, but Sally demands the truth. (I will say this, the characters here are somewhat less obtuse than those in other flicks of this kind.) Steve, however, wants some more sugar, if you know what I mean. Sally seems to enjoy his increased passion, as long as, you know, it doesn’t go too far. When he starts to force himself upon her, though, she begins to struggle. He even rips her blouse open, revealing her bra strap. I must admit, for 1958, this seems a bit daring.

Ooh, Mother warned me about you Giant Space Brains, and she was right!

Luckily, George is nearby and comes to his mistress’ defense. Finally, Steve kicks the dog (although he clearly misses it) and it takes off. Sally expresses her opinion that perhaps he’s been working too hard, which seems a rather benign take on his behavior. She suggests that he see a doctor. “Don’t expert me, Sally” he sneers, proving that this Giant Space Brain needs to work on that whole vocabulary thing. He then pulls away and takes his leave. Sally takes comfort by hugging her admitted cuddly looking dog. (I rather like dogs, especially large ones, and tend to give a movie a few extra points for featuring one.)

Steve is shown back in his living room, writhing in his easy chair. Gor appears and grows to full, if still see-through, size. Since this film runs only about seventy minutes (one of its strengths) we go right to some exposition. Making sounds like the War Machines from George Pal’s War of the Worlds, the Brain introduces himself as Gor. He says he hopes that he can count on Steve’s support as he runs for president. (Oops, wrong ‘Gore.’ Of course, you can see right through that one, too.)

This scene of Steve writhing in agony as Gor emerges from him had John Hurt replying, 'Oh, stop whining, you big baby!'

Gor explains that he needs a physical host while here on Earth, and that Steve fits the bill nicely. After all, Gor allows, Steve is a “recognized nuclear scientist.” (Hey, look – that guy’s a nuclear scientist!) His standing will allow Gor entry to places he wants to go. (Lucky for him that a Recognized Nuclear Scientist popped up in his cave.) Gor explains that he chose Steve’s body even before knowing of Sally. “A very exciting female,” it leeringly notes.

Our Hero, needless to say, is somewhat perturbed by Gor’s interest in his fiancée. He warns him to keep it’s grubby…uh, I mean, Steve’s grubby…well, you know, hands off of her. “Why?” Gor evilly chuckles. “She appeals to me! There are some aspects of the life of an Earth savage that are exciting and rewarding! Things that are missed by the Brains on my planet, Arous!” (Actually, things aren’t too different on this planet. Just go to a Star Trek convention or advanced Computer Seminar and you’ll see what I mean.)

OK, when Andrew of suggested this round-robin review (a brilliant idea, I must admit), I nominated this film for a number of reasons. First, it was readily available on video, and so comparatively easy for all of us to get our hands on. (In fact, I already had a copy at hand, so I was sort of cheating by suggesting it.) Only Liz had trouble finding a copy, so we mailed her one. (Credit to Apostic over at B-Notes for this.)

Second, none of us had reviewed it yet. Third, ’50s sci-fi seemed a field we were all comfortable with. Fourth, the film is rather goofy, and thus would provide a plethora of material for us to skewer. The fact that the lead character is a scientist also puts the film right up Liz’s alley, given her focus on science and scientists in Bad Films. Steve’s (and Gor’s) relationship with Sally also seemed to suit her interests.

However, to be totally fair, The Brain from Planet Arous is probably the best film to currently appear at the Jabootu site. Oh, yes, it’s gloriously silly. Still, the short running time, somewhat unique monster and fast moving script make the film rather fun to watch, whereas viewing many of our subjects can be a fairly excruciating experience (Fair Game and The Promise come to mind). Also, the film at least maintains a modicum of internal continuity, even if of a rather dubious nature.

The actors are all professionals. Agar is a bit out of his depth, but manages to provide a fairly amusing portrayal again reminiscent of William Shatner-styled histrionics. And unlike the stars of many low-budget flicks, at least he gets all this lines right. Meanwhile, the supporting actors (including the dog playing George) are generally quite capable. The direction also is somewhat stolid but more than serviceable.

Yet what really makes the film work is the unexpectedly off-kilter portrayal of Gor. The standard take of an Alien Brain taking over a human body would be for Steve to become an ultra-logical and coldly unemotional automation. Instead, someone had the hilariously ingenious idea of making Gor a sensation freak. Afforded a physical body, Gor plans to exploit it for all the pleasure that it can provide. This is simply a marvelous idea.

Thus, whenever my Bad Movie comrade-in-arms Andrew Muchoney and I watch this film, we run with this bit. If Gor is enjoying a beverage, we’ll make loud slurping sounds to indicate his revelry. Food is similarly accompanied by loud, Cookie-Monster like chomping noises. However, while battling to see who would take this bit the farthest, I scored a rare victory when I started extolling on Gor’s behalf the sensuous pleasure of “filling one’s primitive bladder to the very point of delicious explosion! Ah, the exquisite torture, and then (ZIPPP)….AHHHH!!! The sweet ecstasy of release!!”

Even the alien being’s traditional, if generally inexplicable, attraction to Earth women makes more sense in this context. Gor isn’t a gorilla-haired Space Robot or a member of some hideously non-human species. It’s not even Sally herself that attracts him. Instead, he wants to savor the physical pleasures attendant to those possessing a corporeal body. Steve’s natural attraction to Sally merely heightens this.

Gor also enjoys pushing around and lording over the ‘savages’ of Earth. When Steve warns him against touching Sally, he wryly chuckles, “It is you who is touching her!” (As Marge Simpson once noted, “For an advanced species, they really like to rub it in!”) “Even I need some interest to spur me on,” the lascivious gray matter continues. “She’ll do very nicely.”

Angered beyond endurance, Steve grabs a knickknack off the mantle of his fireplace and chucks it at Gor. “None of your puny weapons will effect me,” Gor gloats as the impromptu missile sails ineffectively through him. (Despite us humans having greater weapons than ornamental doodads at our disposal, I guess we’ll take his word for it.)

Gor smugly informs Steve that it can turn “your simple little will off and on like a key in a lock.” (Wouldn’t ‘like a light switch’ have been a better analogy? Apparently, we humans still maintain the lead in literary devices.) Then it turns that spotlight on him and Steve shudders in agony. This, Gor explains, is to remind him who’s boss.

Cut to Mr. Fallon returning home. Sally, who’s reacted to Steve’s attack by donning a slinky white dress, explains how she’s worried about Steve. “I can’t explain it to you…he was changed,” she notes. Just tell him, ‘Like in Invasion of the Body Snatchers,’ then he’ll get it. However, since Sally’s only a girl, Fallow makes light of her concerns.

Checking things out, Fallon pops over to Steve’s house/lab/whatever. Fallon asks him what the deal is with him and Sally. Steve looks away so that he can act in an exaggeratedly suspicious manner without Fallon seeing. Just when he almost has Fallon convinced, though, he has another pain spasm.

Lurching over to the office’s water cooler, Steve looks through the water jug so that we get a ‘cool’ distorted image of his face. (Juran must have really liked this effect, because he also used it in that year’s Attack of the 50 Foot Woman.) We also see that Agar is wearing silver contact lenses. These are used as a visual cue to signal when Gor is directly controlling Steve.

This 'face distorted through water' shot, also used in Attack of the 50 Foot Woman, is director Nathan Hertz's main claim to 'auteur' status.

I want to stop for a minute to commend Agar. Sure, he’s no Robert De Niro here or anything. Still, to get this effect he had to wear large contact lenses painted silver. Not only were they crude and heavy glass lenses that painfully covered his entire eyes, but the silver paint kept excruciatingly flaking off into his eyes. Say what you will about him, Agar was willing to endure things like a trooper to get the film made.

These, by the way, look exactly like the lenses used in the first Shatner episode of Star Trek. Called “Where No Man Has Gone Before”, it chronicles how Kirk’s best friend gains such immense telepathic abilities that he threatens the entire universe. Whenever his powers manifest themselves, his eyes turn silver, just like Agar’s in this film. (I’m not implying anything here, but draw your own conclusions.) One hopes that contact technology had improved by the time this episode was shot.

Anyway, Steve yells at him to leave him alone. Fallon, while concerned, accedes to his wishes. We cut back to Sally, who’s picking at her steak and fries. Hmm, this would be a good time to break for dinner.

Actor John Agar suffers for his art.The shot that made Ken break for dinner.

[Resuming the review about an hour later.] So Sally is picking at her dinner. (The close-up of her plate allows for an ‘accidental’ examination of her chest as the camera pans up). Fallon, meanwhile, is chowing down, apparently not overly impressed by Steve’s rather odd behavior. “He has his problems, we all have,” he notes, sounding like a New Age psychiatrist explaining the behavior of a homicidal sex offender on Jerry Springer.

Sally, like women everywhere, keeps at the whole “my fiancé’s suddenly acting like a maniac” thing like a dog gnawing a bone. Admittedly, Steve should have waited until they were actually married to reveal his true nature (just like woman shouldn’t get fat until that ring’s safely on their finger), but yada yada. Fallon, with the wisdom of age, ignores her and keeps eating dinner. (Actually, you have to see this to get the full effect. Sally points out to her father that Steve’s the man she’s to marry, and her dad shrugs his shoulders, as if to say, ‘yeah, whatever.’)

Sally keeps on like Nancy Drew. She all but tells her Dad that Steve tried to force himself on her (which he seems not to catch; this isn’t the most perceptive character in cinema history), and explains that she doesn’t think that Dan really went to Las Vegas. Finally, Fallon replies, “I’m willing to try anything, if it will help,” which seems sort of an abrupt about-face. Sally, proving somewhat adventurous for the period, wants to go out to Mystery Mountain and, I guess, look for clues. Zoinks!

The next day, Fallon and Sally head out. (Actually, Fallon’s pretty easy-going, since we’ve been told that the trip out to Mystery Mountain and back takes about four days.) Amazingly, they park in the exact same spot where Steve and Dan did, which is moreover conveniently marked by that canteen Dan left there. (Boy, that was handy.)

So let’s see. Dan’s canteen has been sitting out in the oft-mentioned 120°-in-the-shade heat. However, Sally can just pick it up without so much as a ‘youch!’ Man, she’s pretty tough. Actually, Fallon’s pretty tough, too. He’s attired in a rather desert-unfriendly black shirt and not wearing a hat.

Fallon notes that Steve and Dan must have gone on from here on foot. He tells Sally to grab some water and, despite the fact that they’re standing out in the blazing sun, to bring the flashlights. Are these really a de rigour exploration tool when combing the desert? Finally reaching the bottom, a gasping Sally again refers to the oppressive heat. Which is odd, since her long-sleeve shirt bears nary a sweat stain.

Fallon notes that they can rest in that nearby cave. “A cave!” Sally exclaims. “I’ve been out here with Steve before, and I know that cave wasn’t here!” (Uh, can I get back to that ‘no one here since 1900’ thing?) Luckily, the two brought those flashlights with, which now seems pretty handy, what with the cave to explore and all.

Noticing that “the rock isn’t even discolored,” Fallon admits that Sally is right. “This cave was blasted open within the last two weeks at the outside.” (Uh, OK.) They then enter the cave, still suffused with that mood inducing light fog. (It’s hard not to notice that the camera is shooting from the exact same angle as when Steve and Dan found the cave; presumably, the scenes were shot one immediately after the other.) Sally finds Steve and Dan’s footprints, following them to the side passage where they ran into Gor.

History repeats itself when Sally is startled by a flash of light. She sees something and screams, bringing her father running. Since she’s obviously terrified, he runs up and grabs her from behind. (Thanks, Dad.) Unsure of what she saw, she insists on venturing forward, wanting to find out what happened to Steve and Dan.

They start finding Steve’s equipment, left littering the cave. Fallon, meanwhile, sees something and turns his light off so that Sally won’t spot it. She already has, however, so they head on over. They find Dan’s body, lightly flambéed (although showing no signs of decomposition, odd since Dan was killed at least a week earlier). Sally earlier had started shrieking upon seeing a nebulous form in the passageway. Here she reacts with all the horror of a woman who, freshly returned from the grocery store, finds that a couple of the eggs she just bought are cracked.

Making a deduction of Sherlockian brilliance, Sally notes that “This all has something to do with the way Steve’s been acting.” Fallon notes that they had better report Dan’s death to the Sheriff (yeah, that might be a good idea), when suddenly another Brain makes its appearance. We know its another Brain because it has a different voice. Otherwise we might be confused, as they use the exact same special effects insert used to introduce Gor. Penny saved, penny earned, I guess.

Expressing rather a mild degree of shock (imagine learning that a close friend owns every Garth Brooks album), the two casually ask this giant glowing transparent floating Brain with eyes found lurking near their dead friend who it is. “Do not be afraid,” it reassures them. “I am a friend.” Wow, maybe he’ll help them with their math finals or something.

The Brain introduces itself as Vol. It’s sort of a policeman Brain, sent by “my leader” to catch Gor, who’s apparently wanted for various criminal infractions on Arous. “He has already voided that human in the passage,” he notes, utilizing a rather misleading turn of phrase (or so I hope). Vol, however, needs Sally and Fallon’s help if he is to recapture Gor. He warns them about the whole ‘Gor controlling Steve’ thing, and cautions them to silence. (Yeah, right, who’re they going to tell?)

Vol informs them that he'll appear at their house the next night 'at eight o'clock.'

As an insight into their alien culture, we can note that the Floating Brains of the Planet Arous don’t use military time. Trusting that a Giant Brain must know what it’s talking about (although this is exactly how people get into trouble when reading The New York Times editorial page), Fallon agrees that “we must do as the thing says.”

Back to Steve’s place. Sucking on his pipe, Gor-Steve is placing a call to Colonel Frogley at the Atomic Energy Headquarters, Indian Springs. Using his credentials as a Recognized Nuclear Scientist, Gor-Steve gets invited to some atomic bomb testing taking place the next week.

To a blare of music, Gor makes his appearance. “So Friday the savages are going to play with their new toy,” he sneers. “Gor will be there. HA HA HA HA!!” (Yes, he actually laughs maniacally. And quite often, at that.) “I’m going to demonstrate something,” he expositories. “I have a surprise for them.” At this, Steve literally throws the book at him. Apparently, though, Gor is as impervious to books as he is to knickknacks. Can nothing stop him?

Gor responds that Steve should be honored to be possessed by such a prominent Giant Space Brain. Although Steve fails to appreciate the privilege being afforded him, Gor continues ranting. “I, Gor, in your stupid body, will have power of life and death over this civilization!” He points out that Steve will also share in this power, assuming that Our Intrepid Hero will find this an attractive proposition.

Cut back to the Fallon’s place. The clock chimes eight, and we learn that Giant Floating Brains are punctual. At least the good ones. In one of the picture’s more laugh-inducing moments, George rouses at the appearance of this weird visage. Vol quiets him down by soothingly intoning, “Good dog, good dog.” (!!) You pretty much have to see this to believe it. Then again, I saw it and I still don’t believe it, so never mind.

Vol asks the Fallons to sit down, explaining that he’s here on “the friendliest of missions.” “You can help me save the Earth from a terrible experience,” Vol explains. For a bright, shining moment, I dream that Vol’s mission is to keep NBC’s Suddenly Susan from getting renewed yet again. A quick peek at my TV directory bitterly squashes this hope. Still, it was a nice thought.

“Gor is insane for power,” Vol continues, to say nothing of nookie. He warns them that Gor could, unless stopped, come to rule the world. For some reason (IITS[1], no doubt), Vol can only apprehend Gor when he’s outside of Steve’s body. He warns that Steve might have to die if the world is to be saved.

“Why should Steve have to die?” Sally asks. “Well, we’ll try to save him,” Vol blandly responds. Then Vol notes that he’ll, like Gor, need a host. Sally ‘vol’unteers (ha ha, I’m so funny), as does her dad. Vol cautions that once he’s in possession of a body, he’ll have complete control of that person. He also notes that he needs a body that can hang around Steve without arousing suspicion. Sally proposes George. “The dog? Hmm,” Vol responds. “He is intelligent, devoted, strong…” Not to mention the best actor in the movie.

Vol grumbles upon learning he has to fly coach.Back at Steve’s, Gor informs him that they’ll be taking Sally for a car ride tonight. “I will enjoy being you tonight,” Gor exclaims. “She gives me a very strange and very new elation.” Apparently, the director didn’t tell Agar where Gor was supposed to be. Steve stares straight ahead during this speech, while it seems like Gor is to his back. Soon, the scientist’s smarmy expression informs us that Gor-Steve is back.

That night, on the way to Sally’s, Gor-Steve pulls to the side of the road. We soon hear the sound of an airplane, and a close-up reveals Gor-Steve is wearing those silver contacts. As a spotlight accentuates his face, we cut to a model-airplane-on-a-string that’s every bit as bad as you probably think. It explodes in a burst of talcum powder. Watching in slow-motion, you can quite clearly see one wing hanging around in the sky, twirling as if, well, on a wire. Gor-Steve laughs at his own evil and continues on to Sally’s house.

Veteran Bad Movie buffs, meanwhile, will laugh for another reason. That’s because this bit is startlingly similar to a scene from The Medusa Touch. Made in 1978, this inadvertent laughfest stars Richard Burton (who else?) as a man with immense telepathic powers. At one point, he steps out onto his balcony and, veins throbbing on his forehead (that film’s version of the ‘silver eyes’ thing), causes a passing jetliner to crash into a building. The possibility that a multi-million dollar Richard Burton vehicle might have raided The Brain from Planet Arous for plot points is too rich to ignore.

Cut over to Sally’s, where it oddly appears to be bright daylight out. Fallon is perturbed about letting his daughter go out with a lecherous alien Brain. Vol promises to protect her. His powers, we’re told, are greater than Gor’s, but he must catch Gor outside of Steve’s body to capture him. Steve’s car drives up, and Vol warns that they must treat Steve as they always do. So saying, Vol reenters George.

Gor-Steve enters and tells Sally to grab her sweater. Meanwhile, he plays around with George, little suspecting Vol’s presence. Frankly, I’d think that Gor-Steve would be a little cool towards George, given how he interfered the last time Gor-Steve was getting frisky with Sally. Still, a little whining from Vol-George and Gor-Steve takes him along. Considering his apparent plans for the evening, this seems a bit counterintuitive. Maybe Gor just likes cool dogs.

Gor-Steve is soon parking his car, someplace where he and Sally can look over some stock-footage of a city at night. Gor-Steve offers to give Sally the world, in a bit that weirdly calls to mind George Baily asking Mary Hatch if she’d like the moon. At this point he leans in for the old lip massage. When he gets a bit too strenuous, Sally pushes him away. She then opens the car door, apparently choosing to get out rather than…well, you know.

Gor-Steve follows her over to some rocks. “I am different,” he acknowledges. “And the whole world’s going to know how different by next Friday.” He reveals that he’s going to unveil his ‘discovery’ at the bomb test. “It’ll make the atom bomb look like a firecracker,” he gloats. (Boy, there’s a fresh analogy. It’s always firecrackers or water pistols with these guys. Can’t they come up with a fresh line?) “Even the Moon is frightened of me!” Gor-Steve rants. “Frightened to death!” OK, that’s really from James Whales’ The Invisible Man, but I’m trying to liven things up here.

“You frighten me when you talk like that,” Sally replies. He agrees, noting that his power will make him the most feared man on Earth. “Power,” she asks, “is that what you want?” “That’s what everyone wants!” Gor-Steve retorts. “That’s why the office boy wants to be the boss! That’s why the private wants to be the general!” He grabs hold of Sally, seeking to exercise a little power right now. “I want you, Sally,” he tells her. “And what I want I take!” (Hmm, I wonder if Gor ever came back and inhabited the President of the United States? If only there was a scene where Gor cheated at golf, then I’d know for sure.)

However, Gor-Steve is thwarted when Vol-George begins barking. (Some super-being!) “I kind of got carried away out there,” he admits. Sally, playing along, pretends to forgive him. As he starts his car, the radio turns on, reporting the mysterious explosion of that model airplane we saw earlier. (His radio must have one of those Plot Point Scanners.)

Sally suggests that they go to the crash site and see if they can help. Gor-Steve, now on his best behavior, agrees. Meanwhile, Colonel Frogley is at the scene and directing the recovery crews. We see a stretcher carrying what appears to be a completely intact body, which is rather strange given the whole ‘plane exploding in mid-air’ thing.

Gor-Steve and Sally arrive. The Colonel asks him to look at one of the corpses. It bears (very faintly) the ‘burn’ marks that Dan did earlier. (Although, again, for a body that plummeted to earth from an exploding midair jetliner, it looks pretty good.) “You ever see anything else that flash-burned so violently?” Frogley inquires. (Uh, Vanilla Ice’s career?) Gor-Steve feigns ignorance.

Frogley takes Gor-Steve over to the cunningly named Professor Dale Tate, played by actor Dale Tate. (Tate is an important cast member, also providing the voices for both Gor and Vol.) Tate’s examining some wreckage with a Geiger counter. “Radiation?” Gor-Steve inquires. “Well, it seems almost certain,” Dale responds, “yet there’s no contamination!” (So how can it be ‘almost certain’?) Gor-Steve is soon having sport with Sally, alluding to how this strange power must be from “outside this world.”

Later, Sally is dropped back home. Once inside, she rushes into her father’s arms. She tearfully explains that Gor was the one behind the plane crash, deducing this from the fact that the crash victims were burned like Dan. “This is time for thinking and planning, not crying!” he scolds in reply. Yeah, snap out of it, ya big baby.

Vol now provides some important exposition, his voice emanating from off-camera so as to save a few special effect dollars. Gor, we learn, is invulnerable while inside Steve or in his ‘transitory’ state. Only when he fully materializes can he be harmed. Then even a human could do him in. “A heavy blow on the point known to your surgeons as the Fissure of Rolando can kill.”

Luckily, we learn, Arousian Brains must materialize once every twenty-four hours (hey, that’s an Earth day! What a coincidence!) to “assimilate” oxygen. Sally inquires whether they should pass this info on to Steve (since she’s too ladylike to clobber a large floating brain herself, I guess). Vol warns that this would be very dangerous. If Gor learned that Steve was aware of his vulnerability, he would kill him instantly.

Over at Gor-Steve’s, meanwhile, Sheriff Wyle makes an appearance. He’s come about Dan, who’s been found dead in the cave. “You went out there with him, didn’t you?” he asks. OK, now I’m really confused. I mean, Fallon said he was going to report the death, but that was before meeting Vol. Why would he and Sally involve the authorities at that point? But on the other hand, how would the Sheriff just stumble onto the cave? (For a deserted locale, it sure sees a lot of traffic.) And how did Wyle know that Steve was out there with Dan?

Gor-Steve maintains that Dan came back with him and then announced that he was going to Las Vegas. Wyle knows he’s lying, though, as the autopsy revealed that Dan died on the same day that they went out there. (Would an autopsy in 1958, especially on a corpse that was flash-fried and then left there for over a week, really be that exact? And how would he know the exact date that Steve and Dan found the cave?) As the Sheriff notes that Dan “was cindered” (although very lightly, from what we saw), Gor-Steve strikes a match. Ooh, symbolism! (Or is that ‘irony’?)

Further dialog indicates that the Sheriff has discussed Dan’s whereabouts with Gor-Steve before, although we’ve had no indication of that. And again, if it wasn’t Sally and Fallon who reported Dan’s death (and why would they?), why was the Sheriff even looking into it? How would he even know that Dan was supposedly out of town, much less suspect that it wasn’t true?

Feeling his oats, Gor-Steve admits not only to Dan’s death, but to causing the plane crash. “And know I’m going to kill you,” he gloats. Wyle reaches for his gun, but is soon flame broiled by the silver-contacted Gor-Steve. (I assume that Eric Clapton was thinking of this scene when he sang, “I pyrokinetically combusted the Sher-iff, but I not did telepathically incinerate the Dep-u-ty…”)

This procedure, per usual, is indicated by saturating the set with a spotlight. Which raises the question of how Gor manages to sauté the guy without setting fire to the lab. In any case, the Sheriff, noticeably un-burned, keels over on cue. Gor-Steve immediately picks him up, so I guess that his victims cool off real fast. Then, rather than disposing of the body in the desert, Gor-Steve lugs it into the lab’s storeroom. Man, that place is going to smell pretty good in a couple of days.

Cut to stock-footage of what I think is the Pentagon. (It’s from the front of the building rather than the typical overhead shot, so it’s hard to tell.) Inside, military brass is examining the scorched piece of wreckage from the plane. “Heat intense enough to do this must have been caused by some sort of A-blast,” we’re rather unconvincingly told. Uh, yeah, a blow torch never could have done it, nor would an ‘A-blast’ have atomized everything.

Professor Tate, attending as a consultant, agrees. However, no atomic agent know to man could have generated such a blast without contaminating the remains. Making quite an intuitive leap, the presiding General Brown asserts that this can only mean one thing: “We have been invaded. Not the United States, but the world has been invaded!” Somebody responds that the assertion is “fantastic.” Colonel Frogley, also on hand, notes that it really isn’t. “We’ve talked of invading the Moon,” he points out. Yeah, that proves it.

The meeting is interrupted when a slack-shouldered private enters this no doubt top-security meeting. He hands over a telegram and then slouches out of the room. If an enlisted man really entered a meeting full of high-ranking officers in such a fashion he’d get his ass kicked. The telegram notes that the plane passengers, as well as Dan, died from radiation burns. Meanwhile, the atom bomb test at Indian Springs is to go forward. The hope is that the test will bring out the Invaders.

Gor-Steve, still hauling ‘George’ around, arrives at the Fallon’s house. (Again, since George has proven such a pain in the ass, why hasn’t Gor disposed of him yet?) Sally has the grill fired up and invites him to lunch. Gor-Steve, meanwhile, explains that ‘George’ showed up at his place last night and “ate me out of house and home.” (Yuck! I hope that Vol enjoys the taste of dog food.) Meanwhile, Gor-Steve starts in again about his thinly-veiled plans for the test the next day. “Going to be a lot of brass there,” he approvingly notes.

After dinner, Fallon says he’s heading for his den. Gor-Steve ruefully acknowledges that then he’ll have to help Sally do the dishes. “That’s what I want for my birthday,” Sally admits, “a dishwasher!” (Ha, ha. What woman doesn’t, eh?) Perhaps Gor will secretly enjoy this primitive experience, first scouring with the hot soapy water, then rinsing with the bracing cold water. Finally, the sensuous rubbing of each dish, until it lies dry and gleaming. Bwahahaha!

Gor-Steve starts going into his ‘we’re going to rule the world’ thing, followed by Sally going into her ‘you scare me when you talk like this’ thing. Taking a page from Gor-Steve’s book, Sally turns away so that she can wear an extremely obvious ‘sly’ expression without him knowing. Gor-Steve, meanwhile, continues to swear his fealty to her. “I want these things for you, you silly little idiot,” he romantically avers.

You know, I don’t want to be mean, but Gor seems awfully hung up on Sally. Wouldn’t a Giant Space Brain with a freshly procured physical form and ambitions to rule the galaxy want to, you know, sow some giant space oats?

Cut to a conference room at Indian Springs. Gor-Steve arrives and is met by Colonel Frogley and General Brown. They inform him that he’ll have to wait until they’re done conducting their meeting. Gor-Steve, however, horns his way in, promising information about the recent mysterious events. With the top military brass of the United States at his disposal, Gor-Steve finally is ready to make himself known.

“Gentlemen,” he begins, “before I can ask you to take what I have to say seriously, I want to show you sometime.” Then, to our horror, he begins to mentally project images of his astral voyage through the gaseous Centarous Nebula. “Here we see a interesting little collection of carbon particles, quite anomalous for this region of space…” he drones. The earthlings quickly offer him anything he wants.

Oops, sorry. Instead, he walks over to a closed-circuit television receiver that’s focused on the bomb test area. We see various buildings and equipment placed in the path of the coming blast to test its destructive potential. The images include footage of moving tanks and cars. Why these should be tooling around instead of just sitting in a stationary position isn’t explicated. (Nor is who’s driving these things.)

Gor-Steve tells them to keep watching the TV, then walks over to the window. Yep, it’s Silver Contacts time. For some reason, spotlights start flashing in the room. Then extremely familiar stock footage of an atomic bomb test plays on the TV. And remember, this is decades before the VCR.

The explosion is so intense that grips accidentally drop sawdust and plasterboard chunks from the top of the set. Meanwhile, the camera operator is apparently experiencing an epileptic fit, as the camera begins violently shaking. Gor-Steve, looking on in evil delight, laughs maniacally. Then the PA system kicks in with an Expository Bulletin, informing us that whatever caused this explosion, it wasn’t the test bomb.

“What you’ve just seen me do to that one small area,” Gor-Steve gloats, “I can do to a city, a nation or a continent.” “Fantastic!” General Brown exclaims. Not really. We’ve talked of invading the Moon, after all. (Hmm, that made even less sense the second time around.) Gor-Steve also cops to blowing up the plane. “You killed your assistant with this power?” Frogley next inquires. (This last bit seems a tad picayune at this point. Are they going to ask about his parking tickets next?)

Gor-Steve assures them that he is invulnerable to harm. Plus, he promises, any attempt to cause him harm “will bring forth reprisals that will shock the whole world!” Proving to be a slow learner (or perhaps a strict empiricist), Frogley pops up with pistol in hand. He opens fire and…exit Frogley. (Why the bullets don’t blow big holes through Steve’s human corpus is left unexplored. I mean, yeah, Gor’s indestructible, but…)

Gor-Steve makes his demands. He wants to meet with representatives from all the major powers later that evening. Should any country fail to send such a representative, their capitol city will be destroyed. (Given the low budget of this picture, I guess you won’t be surprised to learn that everybody shows up.) After his ultimatum, Gor-Steve goes into another laughing jag. You know, Gor might be an Evil Giant Space Brain, but you’ve got to admire a being who enjoys his work. Meanwhile, the brass runs from the room, making loud watermelon-watermelon noises[2].

Stupid Earthlings learn why you don't want to get 'flashed' by an alien.You call yourself an agent?! Get me out of this screwball picture!!

Cut to Sally’s backyard, where a reclining Gor-Steve is enjoying a cigarette. “Boy, am I beat!” he moans. No kidding. Mentally projecting an atom bomb level explosion really takes it out of you. Sally brings him a drink. You know, for a Giant Space Brain, Gor is adapting to the suburban lifestyle pretty easily. I’m surprised we haven’t seen him mowing his lawn yet. (“Ah, the primitive odor of this freshly cut grass fills me with a peculiar yet alluring gratification!”)

Sally suggests that Gor-Steve nap. He agrees, asking her to wake him up in time to dress for his meeting tonight. (!) Gor is apparently one of your more fashion-conscious alien conquerors. I hope he remembers that one should never wear checks when bullying the great powers of the world.

Taking advantage of his nap, Sally consults with Vol. “Gor is tired,” the altruistic Brain reveals, “because he has had no opportunity to return to his true form for oxygen.” Because he’s waited so long, we learn, Gor will be especially vulnerable when he finally emerges. Hmm, then maybe he should have sought some privacy at home rather than coming over to nap in Sally’s yard. In fact, why didn’t Gor emerge at Steve’s house last night rather than put it off to the last minute? Oh, right, IITS.

Sally exerts all her mental acuity. “You mean that spot near the top of the brain,” she asks, “known as the Fish..Fissure of Rolando?” “You have a good memory,” Vol assures her, sounding like Mr. Rogers praising a slow ten-year old for adding two and two together. Cripes, Sally, Fissure of Rolando! That’s the only thing you have to remember! She sounds like Ash trying to remember the phrase Klaatu Barada Nikto in Army of Darkness.

Sally finally decides to learn something about this whole Fish…you know. So she goes to the family encyclopedia (!) and pulls down the volume featuring The Brain. Luckily, the entry includes a patently un-encyclopedia-like sketch detailing the whereabouts of this pivotal nerve cluster.

It’s soon 6:30 and Sally rouses Gor-Steve from his nap. He tries to get some smooching in, but she makes him get ready. Grumpy from being woken up, Gor-Steve calls her a ‘browbeater’ before acquiescing to her commands. “OK, OK, you win!” he groans. Hmm, he’s never going to conquer the world with that attitude! Perhaps he should read Steven Covey’s The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Brains.

What they’re trying to get across here, of course, is that Gor is still weak from staying inside of Steve for so long. Too bad they still haven’t explained why he napped in Sally’s yard rather than seeking enough privacy to materialize. (Uh, because then they couldn’t kill him, and he’d take over the world?) Anyway, he pecks “Sal” on the check and tells her he’ll see her tomorrow. When Sally asks why not later tonight, Gor-Steve reveals his plans to head straight home after the meeting. “I’m beat,” he explains. You know, Gor isn’t very Machiavellian for a Giant Space Brain.

We cut to the Indian Springs conference room as the Soviet representative arrives. (He has a little Lenin-beard, that’s how we know who he is.) Boris, for lack of a better name, expresses disbelief regarding Gor’s power. At this, General Brown stands and gives a stagy little speech about the horrors he witnessed that morning. “I saw him wipe out a city of concrete and steel,” yada, yada.

Seeing that they’re still not buying it, Gor-Steve invites the delegates to step over to the window. He lifts the shade and we see the exact same model plane that we saw earlier in the film, only the image is flipped to ‘disguise’ it. Sure enough, it again goes ‘boom,’ with that same wing still hanging on a wire. Well, waste not, want not.

Convinced, the representatives all resume sitting. Gor-Steve lays out his demands. Basically, all the workers and manufacturing resources of the great nations will be used to manufacture spaceships of Gor’s design. After a fleet of these ships is constructed, a vast human army under Gor’s command will go forth and conquer the universe in his name.

Well, you’ve got to give the filmmakers points for thinking big.

“Russia would never agree to it,” Boris sputters. “There’s a simple, easy answer to that,” Gor-Steve nonchalantly replies. “There’ll be no Russia!” At this, the delegate assumes a queasy expression and sits down. (You know, seeing a being telepathically blow up an airplane is one thing, but why should they accept that he can eradicate entire countries? Perhaps he should demonstrate his abilities on, oh, I don’t know…France, maybe? Any objections? No, I didn’t think so.) Gor-Steve then ends the meeting by laughing mani…oh, you figured that out, huh?

We cut to Sally entering Steve’s lab/house/whatever with her trusty encyclopedia volume. Of course, she waited until the last minute so that she’d get trapped by Gor-Steve’s return. This is similar to how vampire hunters always begin searching for their quarry about half an hour before sundown. Sally marks the Fissure of Rolando as being “Gor’s Achilles’ Heel” and tears out the page, ‘hiding’ it under Steve’s pipe. (Couldn’t she have torn it out at home rather than lugging the whole book over here?)

OK, here’s this problem I have. The note is left right out in the open, sitting there in plain sight under Steve’s pipe. Now, if Steve reads this while occupied by Gor, as he apparently is about twenty-three plus hours a day, then the jig is up and Gor conquers the universe.

Yet throughout the film, we’ve continually seen Gor-Steve sucking on his pipe. This makes Sally’s choice of paperweights seem remarkably stupid. Couldn’t the filmmakers have established that Gor didn’t like being in Steve’s body while he smoked? Then it’d seem more reasonable that Steve would only reach for his pipe when Gor was not in residence. Instead, they make it look like Sally is taking a hideously moronic gamble which miraculously just happens to pay off.

Sally, trapped when Steve’s car pulls up (told ya), hides as the exhausted Gor-Steve stumbles in. Steve falls into his easy chair and Gor makes his appearance, gloating as usual. (Boy, for a Brain he sure loves to yak.) As Gor blathers on, Steve looks just slightly over to his left and sees Sally’s note, left face up (!) on top of the table near his elbow. (Couldn’t she have folded it or at least turned it upside down?) In a nice continuity error, the insert shot of the sketch they use here is from when it was still in the encyclopedia.

Steve prepares to glance over and find Sally's brilliantly hidden note.Hey, how come it's back in the book?!

Steve, having read the note, looks over to a convenient axe sitting nearby. Meanwhile, we note that for the first time Gor isn’t transparent, obviously meant to imply that he’s now in his vulnerable physical state. Ironically, Gor is at this point revealing his caring side. “You and Sally and I will live in a splendor such as the world has never known,” he promises. See, Gor might be a monstrous Space Brain, but he doesn’t forget his friends.

Steve is tantalized by the axe, but knows that Gor will spotlight him if he tries anything. Luckily, Sally stumbles across the fried Sheriff Wyle (boy, good thing Gor-Steve stowed him back there) and lets rip a loud scream. Gor floats over to see what’s up. This gives Steve the opportunity to try out his Lizzie Borden impression. Gor tries the old spotlight trick, but it doesn’t work due to the Hero’s Death Battle Exemptionâ„¢[3].

As Steve wails away at this fearsome balloon, er, alien, Gor makes little mewling noises. Meanwhile, Vol-George arrives and observes all this from the window. (His ‘arrival’ here is presumably to explain why he didn’t capture Gor as soon as he materialized. However, it doesn’t explain where exactly Vol is arriving from. Shouldn’t he have been casing out this place all evening?)

Hmm, if I'm really sly, Gor will never notice me looking at this axe!Come back here, you stupid brain... I'll murdalize ya!

His job done (by others – what a lazy alien!), Vol materializes unseen and floats off home. This sets up the film’s delightfully nonsensical ‘comic’ ending. A gasping Steve asks Sally how she knew about the Fissure of Rolando. Sally explains about Vol, and how he’s hiding in George. Sally calls in George so that Vol can introduce himself, but of course Vol’s hightailed it.

Steve watches his fiancée exhort her dog with a skeptical eye. “You and your imagination!” he chuckles. (Needless to say, Steve’s reaction seems pretty darn strange coming from a guy who’s had an Evil Space Brain living inside of him for the past two weeks!) Steve and Sally clinch, and…The End.

And now, a little musical homage to this classic motion picture (apologies to John Fogerty):

I’ll always remember
when that brain named Gor came round.
Out at Mystery Mountain
in a cavern he was found.

Looking for some body
to help him get around.
And I wonder, yes, I wonder,
Who’ll stop The Brain.

Well, Steve had a girl named Sally
who was scared by what he said.
She couldn’t help suspecting
he was getting a big head.

She felt a strange foreboding,
when planes started exploding.
And she wondered, yes, she wondered,
Who’ll stop The Brain.

Sally started meeting
with another Brain named Vol.
Who said the Fissure of Rolando
would prove to be Gor’s downfall.

When Vol was done talkin’ to her,
he proved a dog-ed pursuer.
Yet I wonder, I still wonder,
Can they stop The Brain?

Well, Steve was gettin’ tired
of Gor pushing him around.
So it was like a pipe dream
when Sally’s note he found.

Now if he just can catch it,
he’d like to bury the hatchet.
And then finally, yes, then finally,
They’ll have stopped the Brain.

  • Jason Leisemann

    I think the song is my favorite part of this review. :)

  • “She felt a strange foreboding,
    when planes started exploding.”

    I will say that couplet is probably one of my ten favorite things I ever wrote.

    Although my songs (both of them) never really caught on as a gimmick, I will soon be reviewing a film I wrote three for some years ago. So there’s that.