Director: Edward L. Cahn
Writer: Curt Siodmak
Cast: Richard Denning, Angela Stevens, S. John Launer, Michael Granger, Gregory Gay, Linda Bennett, Tristram Coffin, Harry Lauter, Larry Blake, Charles Evans, and Pierre Watkin
Composer: Mischa Bakaleinikoff
Release Date: 7/1/1955
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Working with a former Nazi known as Dr. Wilhelm Steigg (Gregory Gay), gangster Frank Buchanan (Michael Granger) employs an army of revived, radioactive corpses to take revenge on his enemies. Before long, however, a police doctor named Chet Walker (Richard Denning) discovers the source of Dr. Steigg’s atomic-powered brain control mechanism.
Combining zombies, gangsters, and mad scientists, Creature with the Atom Brain will appeal to fans of the B-movie genre. Critical viewers, in contrast, may wish to avoid this film for its absurd premise.
Though produced on a limited budget, Creature with the Atom Brain benefits from a chilling atmosphere. Specifically eerie are the eponymous creatures, whose surgical scars and languid movements will remind horror buffs of the Frankenstein monster (Universal Studios version) and the living dead of George A. Romero’s iconic zombie franchise.
When resurrected and manipulated by Dr. Steigg, the atomic creatures prowl around in a stiff, mechanical fashion while speaking in monotone voices. In spite of the “dead” giveaways mentioned above, none of the human characters—excepting the astute Dr. Walker—manage to identify the zombies as such.
Also problematic is the character of Dr. Steigg, who, by performing grotesque and evil experiments in the name of scientific progress, comes across as a lazy caricature of a Nazi surgeon (e.g. Josef Mengele of Auschwitz).
Despite its unremarkable story, Creature with the Atom Brain should be noted for offering a sci-fi twist on the zombie theme—typically treated as a supernatural concept prior to Night of the Living Dead, wherein human corpses are implied to reanimate due to radiation from a Venus probe.
Creature with the Atom Brain deserves praise for balancing traditional horror with Atomic Age science fiction. Additionally worth commending are the heroic traits of protagonist Chet Walker, played by Richard Denning of Creature from the Black Lagoon and The Black Scorpion.
Overall Quality: 6/10
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