(1965), B/W, 77 minutes
Distributed by Trans-International Films
Produced by K. Gordon Murray
Directed by Paul Nagel (as “Paul Nagle”)
DVD-R comes packaged as shown in color DVD case wrapped in plastic!
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.
* (updated 02-14-06) Thanks to a terrific new book we just received, “Ghouls, Gimmicks and Gold” by Kevin Heffernan, (2004, Duke University Press), we have been able to update the U.S. television release date for this Murray horror title to 1965. The appendices to this study of the horror film in America, circa 1955-1968, include complete listings of syndication feature film packages from many distributors, including American International Television, who subleased the K. Gordon Murray film catalog under the title THRILLERS FROM ANOTHER WORLD. It seems that 1965 was the watershed year for genre film sold to television, with a veritable flood of titles released by both domestic and foreign distribs.
* (effective 05-01-03) After a very brief window of availability, this long-sought K. Gordon Murray title is once again out of print, due to international copyright issues. Used video tapes of this title may be found on online video dealers and auction sites. Stay tuned for further developments!
* This great film had a theatrical release, several years after its syndication to television, with an equally exciting co-feature, THE CURSE OF THE CRYING WOMAN! According to AFI, THE BRAINIAC premiered in the US on April 9, 1969, in Trenton, New Jersey.
* The uncut, 77-minute version of THE BRAINIAC features: 1/ The newlywed husband, hanging upside down in the shower, dead. 2/ The murder of a hooker by the Baron. 3/ The police do some research on the Baron.