Creature With the Atom Brain

Well, that was 69 minutes of my life that I'll never get back. I could have done so many other things during those 69 minutes (get your mind out of the gutter). I could have watched The Giant Claw. Incidentally, both films appear in Sam Katzman's "Icons of Horror Collection," a box set comprised of four genre novelties. I don't mean to sound dense, but did Katzman's credits as a producer warrant a swanky, thriftless DVD bundle? This isn't William Castle we're talking about. If I'm being honest, I couldn't tell that Creature With the Atom Brain was produced by anyone. Too harsh? You be the judge. No, strike that; I'm the fucking judge. Where did I leave my gavel?

On paper, this flick seems like a walk in the park. An extradited gangster named Frank meets a scientist on the verge of a neurological breakthrough. The scientist, a mild-mannered sage, has discovered a way to re-animate dead tissue. In addition, he has cultivated the ability to communicate with his zombies. These "creatures" have no will of their own, so they act and react at the behest of our good doctor. Creature is unique in that the archetypal role of the Frankenstein-esque chemist is not the villain. That's where Frank steps in. Since he funds all of the experiments, he blackmails his reluctant business partner into doing his evil (pronounced "EEEEEEVIIIIIIL") bidding.

The radioactive undead. That should have been the title, and it should have led to an entertaining b-movie. But it doesn't. The main problem here is the saturnalian banality of the script's presentation. Creature is so goddamn boring, it's almost immoral. If I didn't know any better, I'd say that the movie was boring me on purpose just to piss me off. The characters are flat, the camerawork is apathetic and the zombies wouldn't scare my niece. Nevermind the fact that I don't have a niece. I was hoping that I would get fun special effects out of the deal, but apparently, a creature with an atom brain is just a middle-aged man with a prim row of stitches on his forehead.

I expected more out of director Edward Cahn. After all, he brought us It! The Terror From Beyond Space and The Four Skulls of Jonathan Drake. He went through the motions on the set of this clunker, as did Richard Denning, an actor who I can usually count on. On a sidenote, if you want to see Denning in his element, watch The Black Scorpion or The Creature From the Black Lagoon. If you want to see a badass cult classic from the 50's, watch The Black Scorpion or The Creature From the Black Lagoon. I didn't take anything away from Creature With the Atom Brain. Nada. Zilch. Synonym for zero. I'll give it one Z'Dar out of pity.

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