Trail of the Screaming Forehead (2007)

Larry Blamire is best known for his comedy The Lost Skeleton of Cadavra: it was one of the many attempts to make a Fifties-style sci fi film which started appearing around the beginning of the Millennium.  Truth be told, it was one of the better such films, although that isn’t so hard when the competition is Lobster Men from Mars.

He has since gone on to make two more such films (this one and a Lost Skeleton sequel), an “Old Dark House” film and a mobster film.  While his first film was moderately successful, this one vanished without a trace.

It was also his most ambitious project to date:  filmed in color; with an absolutely terrible theme song sung by the Manhattan Transfer; an alien creature provided by none other than the creators of the Critters, the Chiodo Brothers; and, of course, a torch song number.

But despite the higher budget — and the undeniable fact that Chrisopher Mihm‘s far superior faux Fifties movies must have been made for a fraction of the price — this one is not one of the better films in this subgenre.  Nor is it as good as his first film.

Part of the problem is that Larry Blamire’s dialogue is terrible, and deliberately so.  Now most of these faux-Fifties efforts include a few, deliberately mangled lines, a bit of miss-guided science, and some absolutely terrible line readings.  This is meant to be an homage to the often goofy dialogue in those old films, although the best of these — for example, the best of Christopher Mihm’s films — do so sparingly.

Unfortunately, Larry Blamire carries this to absurd levels, and as far as I can tell, every line is mangled in one way or another.

Now there’s the usual sort of nonsense we expect, with the scientist who believes that the forehead and not the brain is the center of human reason, and who injects a colleague with foreheadazine, a compound that will make his forehead grow to enormous size and turn him into a super genius.  Then there’s the race of bodiless alien foreheads, who plan  to take over the Earth by attaching themselves to our foreheads and enslaving us.

I was particularly disappointed by the aliens, even with The Chiodo Brothers on board.  Just compare the forehead creatures to what is perhaps their finest work,  the Critters:  they may have been puppets — and they definitely looked like they came from a lost episode of the Muppets — but they had lots of nasty personality and a liveliness that few CGI monsters ever achieve.  Whereas these things are…dull.  They are basic pink, they don’t move much, don’t have much personality, except when they’re talking, and I don’t even think they’re hand puppets.  Instead they look like CGI, except in the closeups.  Nor do we ever see much of them.

On the whole, I think you are better off exploring the films of Christopher Mihm, or, even better, the old Fifties SF that inspired these films.

However, if this is your kind of film, it’s not too terrible.

Particularly if you can ignore how awful the dialogue is.


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