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THE BRAINIAC (1962)
aka BARON OF TERROR
Directed by Chano Urueta
Written by Federico Curiel, Adolfo López Portillo
Starring Abel Salazar, Ariadne Welter, David Silva, Germán Robles, Luis Aragón, Mauricio Garcés, Ofelia Guilmáin, René Cardona, Rubén Rojo, Carlos Nieto, Carlota Solares, Federico Curiel, Magda Donato, Magda Urvizu, Miguel Brillas, Rosa María Gallardo, Roxana Bellini, Susana Cora
A hokey story and some hammy acting doesn’t defeat the fact that THE BRAINIAC has some great effects and a twisted sense of horror for its time.
Sentenced by the Spanish Inquisition in 1661, Baron Vitelius d’Estera (Abel Salazar) is put to death for practicing witchcraft. But before he is killed, the Baron is able to get out one last curse—vowing to return in three hundred years. Sure enough, two hundred years later in 1961, coinciding with the passing of a comet, the Baron returns when the comet crashes to earth in Smalltown, USA. With a boatload of mystical powers, the Baron is able to shift from the suave Baron to a monstrous creature that bores a hole in the head of his victims and sucks out their brains. A pair of bumbling detectives are on the case, but that won’t stop the Baron from dining on the medulla oblongatas of the reincarnated council of Inquisitors.
THE BRAINIAC is goofy as all get out. Beginning with a ludicrous courtroom scene in which the Baron laughs boisterously as of list of his crimes are announced to the wonky “monster on the loose” scenario that unfolds as the Baron moves from one victim to the next, resulting in screams, gasps, and wide-eyed panic; this film plays out in a pretty predictable fashion.
Still, THE BRAINIAC redeems itself because of the out and out insane design of the Brainiac itself. The sixties always felt like an innocent time for horror with men in rubber suits rampaging out of labs and space ships. Covered in stubbly hair, sporting a long serpentine tongue, and brandishing a pair of some penis-like crab claws, the Brainiac looks like some kind of perverse Krampus. The scruffy and cantankerous look of the monster makes it more of a horny little devil of myth than a monster from the stars. The mask of the monster is made even more sleazy looking as it pulsates and seemingly breathes on the actor’s head. Add some writhing penis-fingers and this is as perverted a monster as you’re bound to see in a 60’s monster flick.
Adding to the ooky factor that is definitely ahead of its time, the Baron actually has a bowl of brains that he chomps on when in need of a recharge. Again, this little detail is something one wouldn’t think would be in horror at the time. Reminiscent of the dinner scene in HANNIBAL, it’s pretty unsettling the way the Baron snags a chunk of brain and chows down. All of this makes THE BRAINIAC an unconventionally executed film, despite it’s predictable “monster on the loose” film. It’s definitely one I have been looking forward to seeing and now that I have, I can’t wait to push this goofy little flick onto others as it truly is an oddity every horror fan must check out.
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