Creature with the Atom Brain (1955)

General Information

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

 

Overview

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 takeCreature with the Atom Brain 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.

 

Pros

Creature with the Atom BrainThough 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.

 

Cons

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 theCreature with the Atom Brain “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).

 

Analysis

Creature with the Atom BrainDespite 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.

 

Concluding Comments

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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