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The 1950s Science Fiction Podcast. S1 E7

Movie Review: Creature with the Atom Brain.

By Edward GermanPublished 3 years ago 11 min read

Start of Transcript.


Hello and welcome once again to the 1950s Science Fiction podcast. Today's episode will be a 50s creature feature Creature with the Atom Brain. This movie is an old favorite of mine since childhood. I still have some memories of watching it on afternoon TV and how I got scared during the murder scene. I hope that you have been enjoying my podcast, and it is entertaining to you as well. I do strive to make my podcast informative and easy to understand also. Now on the review.

Creature with the Atom Brain is a 1955 Science Fiction/Horror movie released by Colombia pictures. The motion picture starred Richard Denning as Dr. Chet Walker, a police scientist expert in forensics. The screenplay was written by Curt Siodmak, who also wrote the story Riders to the Stars, which I covered in a previous podcast. The movie advertises itself as being based on real science. Creature with the Atom Brain: was independently made with a runtime of 69 minutes using Back and White film.

A murder.

The movie starts when a strange-looking man breaks into a home and kills its occupant. The victim is a well-known gangster with many revivals who would want to have him eliminated. When the police investigate the crime scene, they are perplexed by the evidence left behind. A set of metal bars are bent outward, and a windowpane is smashed into pieces suggesting that someone with incredible strength had broke in. However, it gets more interesting fingerprints at the scene show that a convicted felon was present but, he couldn't have been for the simple reason that he is deceased. If that wasn't mind-blowing enough, traces of atomic radiation is also found at the crime scene. The local police call in Dr. Chet Wallker to help them examine the homicide. Dr. Walker is an MD whose specialty is forensics and after looking over the crime scene, he takes blood samples from the carpet. He notices something different about the bloodstains and asks that the light be dimmed. This shows both blood stains and even fingerprints are glowing in the dark for some unknown reason. This is of course not normal. Dr, Walker takes the samples to the lab and analyzes what he has collected, and concludes to be radioactivity is present. Dr. Walker informs the police that the so-called blood has enough radiation to kill a human being if exposed long enough. Later, Dr. Walker gives an impromptu press conference and says the victim was killed by a creature with incredible strength with atomic rays, and can't be killed with bullets.

A creature breaks through a window of the first victim's home and kills him.

Who is behind the murders?

Early in the movie, it is shown who is responsible for the first homicide and the subsequent ones that will follow. An American gangster who was exiled to Europe befriends a former Nazi scientist who escaped the Nuremberg trials. The gangster, Frank Buchanan played by Michael Granger, wants revenge on the fellow gang members who betrayed him. He learns the former Nazi scientist, Dr. Wilhelm Steigg, has created a process to reanimate corpses. The method involved artificial blood, implanted electrodes in the brain, and atomic power. They control the reanimated corpses via radio control and they can see what the corpse sees and hears. Buchanan can speak into a microphone and transmit his voice through the corpse. They both reside in a mansion on the outskirts of town and use a hi-tech lab in the basement to produce the creatures. The house itself is lined with lead to avoid detection from the radioactivity from the basement lab.

The lab.

The next murder.

The next person to fall victim to the creature was a former district attorney who prosecuted Buchanan. He walks into his garage and sets in the driver seat and is getting ready to leave for work. His trip is interrupted by a creature who walks into the garage and tells him he is going nowhere. The creature says remember me, I am Buchannan. At that point, he pulls off the steering wheel and then picks up the man like a ragdoll and snaps his neck. The body is then tossed in the back seat of the car. Incidentally, the automobile was a convertible and the top was down at the time. There were many cars with convertible tops in the movie, which helped make murders convenient for the creatures. These types of autos were popular back in the 50s and were widely used in movie production.

The former DA gets cornered by one of the creatures.

Meanwhile back at Police headquarters.

While at police headquarters, Dr. Wallker who is now the lead investigator on the case, works closely with police Capt. Dave Harris. They are going over a recording made at the first crime scene and are then notified of the second murder. They rush to the victim's home and find the MO is the same as before. Both Dr. Walker and Capt. Harris believes that both murders are connected and Buchanan becomes suspect, both victims knew him. Capt. Harris tracks down the last know whereabouts of Buchanan, he was deported back to Italy and had been living in Rome. Harris contacts the Police in Rome and is informed that he had abandoned the apartment he was living at six months. He was also informed that some lab equipment was left behind and he associated himself with the German scientist Steig. Also, Harris is told that the fingerprints found at the scene were from a deceased male and his body along with 8 others were stolen from the morgue.

A meeting at Police HQ.

Dr. Walker calls for a meeting at Police HQ where he discusses his theory on the creatures. He believes that somehow the radioactivity in their systems causes them to have incredible strength. How it is possible he is uncertain about and believes some undercovered knowledge is at work. Due to the immensity of the situation, he calls on the military to help the police in their search for the creatures. The military has the use of trucks, planes, and men all equipped with Geiger counters. The plan is to have the military spread out through the city looking for signs of radiation, which might fend off another attack. Later that evening during a nightly newscast, local media inform the public of Dr. Walker's theories about the two homicides and how the military is searching for the creatures. The anchorman is very skeptical about Dr. Walker's theories and dismisses them altogether. Meanwhile, both Bucannan and Stegg are watching the newscast. At this point, they decide Dr. Walker must be eliminated.

The creatures are on a rampage.

During the meeting at Police HQ, it is determined that there are more intended victims by the creatures. The police narrow down 3 more persons and offer them police protection but they refuse. In the meantime Buchannan sends one of his creatures to phone the police and demands they stop the search. He threatens to destroy the city by causing accidents or other destruction. When the police do not comply, he unleashes a small army of creatures to wreak havoc on the townspeople. After a few days of terror, which includes train derailments, car crashes, and other mayhem. While one of the three victims was guarded by a police officer, a creature disguised as a cop goes to his house. Once their the officer assigned allows him to go in thinking he was the relief and kills both of them. After that, the remaining two decided to take refuge in the city jail.

Captain Harris has a terrible fate.

While Capt. Harris is out conduction his investigation of the creature's threats, he is stopped by a military policeman. The MP asks for his ID and he obliges but before he can react, Harries is attacked by the phony MP. Harris is then taken to Buchannan's lab and operated on. He now becomes a creature to do Buchannes bidding. He decides to send him out to Walker's home to spy on his family. However they have made one improvement, the creatures can now talk in their voices as opposed to the controller's voice. Once at Walker's home he finds he is not there and sits and waits while his wife talks to him about her husbands' findings. He then realizes that Walker is getting closer to him and his operation. Harris creature abruptly leaves the house leaving his family unharmed.

Captain Harris is turned into a creature.

In the meantime, Dr. Walker is visiting a scientist at a university to make inquires about Stegg. He discovers that Stegg was an expert in the field of Ammigdial stimulation of the brain. This is a process in which electrodes are attached to the brain so a subject can be controlled. This is where the claim the movie is based on real science comes from. Walker is shown a brief film presentation of experiments done on text animals and is impressed. He asked the researchers if it has been done on humans and he says no. Walker even asks if it would even work on humans and the answer is still no.

After meeting the university researcher, he heads back into town.

Walker is marked for death.

After Harris's creature leaves the Walker household, he goes to the city jail and walks into the room where the last two victims were being held. He kills both men and walks out of the jail then gets into his car. Latter the bodies of the men are discovered by the officers on duty and they notice the Capt. Harris is acting strangely. After putting two and two together they issue an APB on him. However, in the meantime, the creature meets up with Dr. Walker, while riding in the car with him he hears the APB. With shock and horror, Walker realizes that his friend has been turned into one of the creatures. Walker notices the car getting faster but leaps out before it crashes. It was an attempt to kill him while Bucannan still had control of the creature. Soon the police arrive at the scene and Walker orders them to take the body of his dead friend to the hospital. Once there he can examine the body more closely.

Stegg goes for a drink.

During this time, Stegg decides to take a trip into town so he can get some pain meds. He hopes to do this quickly and get back to the hideout before Buchanan finds out. However, Stegg orders a beer in a local tavern before going home and thinks it's safe to do so. He sits down and barely drinks the first sip from the glass, He sees an Army truck parked outside the door and a soldier with a Geiger counter steps out. Stegg hastily pays for the drink and leaves in fear of being caught, Stegg even tells the bartender to keep the change. When the soldier walks in his Geiger counter readings are extremely high. He finds the beer glass to be extremely radioactive along with the money as well. The soldier asks who was sitting there and the bartender replied that he had never seen him before. He then confiscates both beer glass and money, send a report to the Police before leaving.

The police close in on Buchannan.

At the hospital Dr. Walker exams Capt. Harris's body more closely, he has x-rays of his skull made and sees the electrode cap placed inside his brain. All of the scientists are astounded by the piece of technology before them. While Dr. Walker is in a conference with the hospital staff, Haris's body begins to stir and sits upright. It seems like Buchannan still has some control of the creature after the crash. The creature gets off of the bed and leaps out the room window. Dr. Walker suggests following the creature and allow it to lead them to the secret lab. He orders the police to follow it and not to stop it for any reason.

A showdown with the police.

The police follow Harris's car very closely while avoiding detection. They pursue him to the secret lab and enter the house. By this time the police and the military have the place surrounded. Buchannan and Stegg see the gathering outside and are no going out without a fight. Buchannan orders the rest of his creature army to go out and attack the group outside. When the creatures emerge, the army and police try shooting and explosives to stop the creatures. The military is astounded by how indestructible the creatures are.

Bullets won't stop them.

While inside the home, Stegg panics and tries to escape but Bucannan knocks him unconscious to the floor. He continues to direct the creatures to fight the military. While that is going on, Walker manages to sneak into the home and makes his way to the lab. He sees Buchannan and gets into a fight with him but is unable to stop him, Buchannan is very strong and overpowers Walker. However, just behind him is a creature and it is Harris. Harris has seemed to have broke control and is now attacking Buchannan. It seems there is some memory left in Harris and he kills Buchannan by strangulation before he dies as well. Then Walker takes a metal rod and smashes the lab equipment and a fire is started in the lab. The resulting action stops the creatures dead in their tracks.

My thoughts of the movie.

This is a good sci-fi/horror movie overall. It has a very good plot, uses some real science in the story, and incorporates some film-noir elements as well. The movie is intended to be a Saturday matinee movie for younger children. However, it can easily be enjoyed by an adult audience. Creature with the Atom Brain is fast-paced in its action and storytelling but stays coherent throughout the movie.

As I mentioned at the beginning of the show, I watched this movie when I was a small child and it both scared me and fascinated me. I would not see it again until I was an adult and I enjoyed watching it just as is. I liked how real science was used in the plot instead of some science techno-babble that some filmmakers use. I think it if was remade it would still hold up by today's standards but some things would have to be changed for modern times. Instead of Atomic Power, a special drug would be used to reanimate the corpses. I do like how the movie first starts by creating a mystery for the police. It gets you hooked from the beginning and gets you hooked from the beginning and gets you to see how it all ends. I had wondered how a sequel might play out if one had been written. I am thinking a story would play out that the US keeps the tech created by Streg secret and cold war espionage would ensue from the Soviet Union.

If you are interested in watching this movie you can find it on YouTube or Amazon Prime. There is a 6oth anniversary DVD edition available on Amazone as well. I rewatched it on YouTube and found it by the search bar.

Well, that is all for now, I hope that you have enjoyed this episode of the podcast, it has rounded up to be a long show this time. I hope I can get a new episode back out on the feed soon. If you enjoy the podcast please feel free to share on social media, make any comments that you wish wherever you listen to the podcast. You can follow me on Twitter @EdwardGerman3 as well. Be sure to check out my companion post on vocal. media along with my other articles. The podcast can now be heard of WordPress at The 1950s Science Fiction Podcast. – A show devoted to sci-fi movies, TV shows, and books from the 1950s. (wordpress.com) You can e-mail me at [email protected]

Thanks for taking the time to listen.

End of Transcript.

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About the Creator

Edward German

A long-time sci-fi fan who loves the internet. I am also writing on subjects other than sci-fi.

you can follow me on "X" @EdwardGerman3 Listen to my podcast The 1950s Science Fiction Podcast on Spotify for Podcasters.

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