(1965), B/W, 77 minutes
Distributed by Trans-International Films
Produced by K. Gordon Murray
Directed by Paul Nagel (as “Paul Nagle”)
EL BARON DEL TERROR is one of Mexican cinema’s most memorable and beloved monster movies, and THE BRAINIAC is one of Murray’s most extraordinary and successful releases, with a title to die for, a monster to love and adore, and a plot straight out of a comic book.
The extended prologue, featuring Baron Vitelius’ trail and punishment at the hand of Inquisitorial goons, offers some classic images: the Baron smirks at his captor’s wild accusations; the Baron makes his chains vaporize; the Baron uses X-ray vision to see the faces of his assassins; the Baron burns at the stake, via a cool table-top model.
At first, we sympathize with the accused, for we know all about the hideous Inquisition, its psychotic genocidde of the innocent. But as we hear the bizarre charges (dogmatism, necromancy, seducing young girls), and see him smirking with contempt, we realize this cat is pure evil!
The inquisitor’s dubbed speech is itself a wildy convoluted paragon of frenzied hyperbole.
After fast-forwarding to 1961, things really get hopping, with astronomers noting a blurry, badly animated comet approaching.
Shortly, the Baron arrives, falling to earth in a giant boulder that plops to the ground like an airlifted Care package!
The baron soon transmutes into the title creature, in order to kill his killer’s descendants. And what a creature!
The “Brainiac” is a ludicrous, bizarre expressionist demon, a goofy, vaguely lizard-like monstrosity with a gruesome, hairy head, floppy crab claws, and a giant rubber tongue that basically just flops around in its attempt to suck the brains out of wailing victims. This is a marvelous creation, naive and unreal, again very much like something straight out of a golden-age horror comic.
And the Baron keeps a goblet of his victims’ brains in a treasure chest, for occasional snacking and revitilaztion. This touch is pure gold!
A lovably primitive, and highly effective, optical effect shows protagonists’ faces dissolving into their ancestors’.
The lurid, wacky melodrama is really brought to life via a rousing score by Gustav Cesar Carrion, which includes familiar cues used in other Mexican horror classics.
Also fun to see is everyone’s favorite horror heroine, Ariadna Welter, as a brain-sucked bar-slut.
Yep, this is a short and sweet and sensational feature, remembered fondly by anyone who’s seen it, and a landmark in cult film history.
-Rob Craig, kgordonmurray.com
DVD-R comes packaged as shown in color DVD case, wrapped in plastic!