Monstrosity [The Atomic Brain] (1963)

There was this rather odd belief, which began not long after the first major experiments in atomic energy, in nuclear medicine.  Somehow, many thought, our ability to harness the atom would allow us to cure every disease.

When you combine this with the excitement caused by the first organ transplants (starting in 1953, with the first kidney transplant), you end up with what you see here, a process for transplanting brains into other bodies using atomic energy.

A rich and incredibly miserly old woman (rather obviously based on the real life billionaire, Hetty Green, who let her son lose his leg to an infection because she couldn’t find a charity ward willing to treat him for free) decides she doesn’t want anyone else to get her money when she’s dead, so naturally she hires a German mad scientist type to give her a youthful new body.

Naturally, she only wants the best, so she brings in three good looking young women so she can decide which body she wants to wear this season.

In many respects, this feels like a 50s sci fi film – or maybe one of those PRC mad scientist films from the 40s (particularly when you throw in the guy with the dog brain who’s turned into some sort of werewolf creature as a result).

But the shots of pretty girls in their undies – and of course, the terrible things that happen to them! – put this solidly into the category of a 60s exploitation film.

On the whole it’s a somewhat uncomfortable combination with a few highpoints.  Radio actor and b-movie regular Frank Gerstle gets a few good moments as the scientist and the old woman almost drooling as she checks out the girl’s bodies is decidedly creepy.  And the scientist’s rather poetic revenge on the old woman is classic and absurd at the same time.

But I still think the final ironic shot should have been a truck running over that darn cat.

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