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Image Entertainment presents
The Atomic Brain & Love After Death & The Incredible Petrified World (1963/1968/1957)

"She thinks she's a cat!"
- Hetty March (Marjorie Eaton)

Review By: Mark Zimmer   
Published: February 05, 2004

Stars: Marjorie Eaton, Frank Gerstle, Guillermo de Cordova, Roberto Maurano, Carmin O'Neal, John Carradine, Robert Clarke, Phyllis Coates
Other Stars: Frank Fowler, Erika Peters, Bradford Dillman, Gloris Garcia, Angel Mario Ramirez, Yolanda Signorelli, Juan Torres, Allen Windsor
Director: Joseph P. Mascelli, Glauco Del Mar, Jerry Warren

Manufacturer: Deluxe
MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (violence, mutilation, brain transplants, sensuality, sexual situations, nudity, rape, bad science)
Run Time: 03h:23m:12s
Release Date: September 16, 2003
UPC: 014381018325
Genre: cult


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
D+ DCD+ D+

DVD Review

Something Weird typically tries pretty hard to have some kind of thematic tie-in between the films that they feature on their DVDs. Many times this care extends to the extras, which often even have a stripper loop that has something to do with the main features. But frankly, I'm baffled by what the association is supposed to be amongst these films, two American and one from Argentina. There's some sci-fi, there's some horror and there's some smut, but the only connecting feature I can find is that they all prominently feature doctors or scientists doing something they shouldn't, and that's pretty darn flimsy. Perhaps it's just their character as "bottom of the barrel" that ties them together.

On television prints, Monstrosity (1963) (not to be confused with the later Andy Milligan film) was titled The Atomic Brain in some showings. While that's a more exploitive title, it's not entirely accurate, since atomic power is here only used (somehow) to jumpstart brains after they've been put into a new body. Dr. Otto Frank (oh, how creative!), played by Frank Gerstle, has been hired by miser Hetty March (Marjorie Eaton) to perfect a technique for transplanting brains. Though the technique has met with only marginal success (he has created a female zombie and a dog-faced boy, which doesn't inspire a great deal of confidence), the aged Hetty is getting impatient. She lures three foreign domestics to her estate for physical examination to determine whether they might be suitable specimens. Poor Anita Gonzalez (Lisa Lang) is eliminated first, and Dr. Frank decides to transplant a cat's brain into her body, just to keep in practice. Things degenerate from there as Anita starts climbing trees and clawing out eyes.

I found this to be the most entertaining film on the disc by far; even though the science is utterly goofy (for instance, the producers seem to be under the impression that nuclear fission is readily accomplished in a small pot of bubbling chemicals), there's an earnest black humor to the proceedings that I found amusing. The performances are wooden at best, with statuesque blonde Judy Bamber affecting a particularly egregious Cockney accent. But there's so much double-crossing and nastiness here that it's hard not to be entertained.

Much stranger is Love After Death (Unsatisfied Love, the onscreen title) (1968), the South American entree. Montel (Guillermo de Cordova) suffers from catalepsy in the finest E.A. Poe fashion, and is buried alive by his unfaithful "virgin wife" Sofia (Carmin O'Neal), who has conspired with Dr. Anderson (Roberto Maurano). But Montel manages to claw his way out of the grave and decides to....wander into random people's homes and have sex with them. And he does, for the rest of the running time, until he finally decides vengeance is in order during the last minutes. Horror or soft core porn? Hard to say, but I'd lean toward the latter since it thoroughly dominates the running time. Even though thoroughly goofy, the sex scenes do at times have an erotic heat to them.

This picture is so bizarre that it's hard to resist its peculiar charms. The film broadly hints that Montel was suffering from impotence, and the experience of being buried alive seems to have given him what he needed in the pre-Viagra era. Funny, but I don't remember that aspect from the Poe stories at all. The acting is a little better here, with de Cordova giving a wildly over-the-top leering performance. There are plenty of sexual misadventures, including an encounter with a transvestite stripper and an elderly woman voyeur who gets her jollies watching Montel assault a woman and then undress her. Never mind that he seems to be doing this in the old lady's home, having dragged his victim in off the street. There's just scene after scene of such mind-boggling perversity that I was left stunned by the end. Think a sexy Ed Wood picture, badly dubbed, and you won't be far wrong.

It's pretty sad to be the worst film on this kind of a compilation, but there's no other way to describe The Incredible Petrified World (1957, or 1960 as the keepcase has it). Again, the title is a misnomer because there's nothing petrified here other than the deeply bored viewer. John Carradine stars as Prof. Millard Wyman, who has developed a deep-sea diving bell. Of course, the best way to test it is to fill it with four untrained people (most of whom dislike each other) and send the lot of them to the bottom of the Pacific Ocean. Isn't it? That's nonetheless what Carradine does, and when the cable breaks he does seem to feel bad. The inhabitants of the diving bell don their scuba gear (never mind such niceties as pressure at the bottom of the ocean, nitrogen narcosis, etc.) and find a cavern that not only has breathable air, but a hermit living in it! And then nothing much happens. And then more nothing happens. This is easily the longest 67-minute film I've ever had to sit through. The dullness of this picture, especially after the snarky and sexy entertainments that went before, is truly stunning.

Carradine, as usual, is wildly hamming it up. But even worse is Phyllis Coates, who played television's Lois Lane back in the day. Here she is a thoroughly annoying newspaper photographer who clearly has insufficient brains to breathe, let alone utter dialogue, and her every line is over-delivered with full-blown high-school-theater-grade histrionics. Robert Clarke (The Hideous Sun Demon himself, which should tell you everything you need to know about this picture) isn't called upon to do much other than be heroic and utter moronic lines, and he does that well enough, in standard bland fashion.

If you must acquire this disc, feel free to watch the first two pictures for a mind-boggling bad movie experience, but unless you're looking for a pharmaceutical-grade sleep inducer, steer far clear from the last.

Rating for Style: D+
Rating for Substance: D

 

Image Transfer

 OneTwo
Aspect Ratio1.33:1 - Full Frame1.85:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyesyes
Anamorphicnono


Image Transfer Review: The first two pictures are presented in full frame; they were both cheaply made so I doubt that they were originally released in widescreen, though that's not out of the question. Petrified World surprisingly enough is presented in widescreen (but not anamorphically enhanced). The source prints vary in quality from reel to reel, though persistent scratches and speckles are fairly common. The end of Love After Death literally looks like a snowstorm due to the horrific speckling during the last two minutes. However, the transfer is pretty decent, with fine patterns looking quite nice and detail frequently being good. All three pictures are in black and white with good greyscales, though black levels aren't always intense.

Image Transfer Grade: C

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
MonoEnglishno


Audio Transfer Review: All three pictures are presented in 2.0 mono. Love After Death has precious little dialogue, but what there is has been subjected to a horrific dub job. Some portions are relatively clean, while others have nasty crackle and substantial hiss. One lengthy segment sounds like wirebrushes being whacked rapidly against a sheet of glass, making dialogue difficult to make out during that spot.

Audio Transfer Grade: D+

 

Disc Extras

Static menu with music
Scene Access with 36 cues and remote access
2 Original Trailer(s)
6 Other Trailer(s) featuring Back From the Dead, Curse of the Living Corpse, Frozen Alive, The Hands of Orlac, Monster-A-Go-Go, Terrified
Packaging: Amaray
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: RSDL
Layers Switch: 45m:51s

Extra Extras:
  1. Live horror show promo
  2. Alternate title sequence for The Atomic Brain
  3. Comic cover art gallery
Extras Review: The two American films are provided with their trailers here, and bonus trailers for another half dozen miscellaneous pictures are included as well. There's also a trailer of sorts for a live spook show, though it's all hype and hyperbole and zero substance, as usual. A mildly interesting clip is the TV version of the opening to Atomic Brain. Wrapping up the package is a gallery of horror comic covers, with music by the Dead Elvi, which I know I've seen on at least two other SW releases. All extras are watermarked with the "SWV" logo in the lower right.

Extras Grade: D+

 

Final Comments

Well, two out of three ain't bad, as the song goes. The prints are serviceable and the transfers aren't bad, but the connecting theme remains a mystery.

 


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