The Brain From Planet Arous (1957)

Title

Directed by Nathan Juran

Written by Ray Buffum

Run Time: 70 min

“I’ll be turning your simple little will off and on…like a key in a lock”
- Gor


A popular topic in sci-fi films is, of course, intelligent, disembodied brains. As a result, there is a slew of "brain" movies out there, but they all tend to fall into one of 3 categories:

Brain In A Jar: Off the top of my head (ha ha), Steve Martin’s 1983 comedy The Man with Two Brains. These isolated entities communicate telepathically, often controlling their victim’s bodies via telepathic suggestion: either by commanding them to perform a task, or by actually inhabiting the victim’s body for short periods of time.

Disembodied Heads: The first two films that come to mind (ha ha, boy, I kill me) are The Brain That Wouldn’t Die (1962) and They Saved Hitler’s Brain (1963). These severed heads usually reside in some sort of tray filled with fluid, along with an implanted array of tubes used to provide sustenance, and to look ‘scientific’. Despite the obvious lack of lungs, these heads manage to talk. I’m sure there’s a Nobel prize waiting for the first person to figure out how in the hell they manage that.

GorFloating "Brains": Take for example the brain-like creature from The Crawling Eye (1958), or the "space brains" from our feature film: The Brain from Planet Arous. These types of brains tend to float around and may even have glowing eyes (!) affixed to their frontal lobes. These brains are usually oversized in order to increase their menace, i.e., a normal-sized floating brain wouldn’t be that scary because you could just squash it with your foot. (If you could stand the horrible ‘squishing’ noise it would make…yech.)

In many ways The Brain from Planet Arous (TBFPA) is the quintessential 50’s B-movie: Fast paced, ludicrous plot, hammy acting, something to do with radiation, and most importantly, fun. Let’s take a look at these qualities one by one:

Fast Paced TBFPA clocks in at a lean 70 minutes, which doesn’t leave a lot of time for extraneous sub-plots and red herrings. In the age of 2 hour (+) Hollywood "block busters" (read: crap), watching a fast-paced ‘classic’ film is a refreshing pleasure.
Ludicrous Plot A giant, interstellar brain (complete with a pair of glowing eyes!) is bent on universal domination. First stop? New Mexico. Not only is the brain ambitious: it’s horny. Throw in a second giant, glowering brain, correction, a police brain, sent to arrest the bad brain, and…and…I think you get the idea.
Hammy Acting The movie stars John Agar. Say no more.
Something to do with Radiation Frequent bursts of radiation lead scientists to the site of a spaceship crash. I’m not sure if the brains themselves are radioactive, but I wouldn’t be surprised, everything else was in the 50’s.
Fun How could all of the above not be entertaining?

Lead man John Agar has a heyday portraying the unfortunate nuclear scientist, Steve March. As everybody should know by now, John was a B-Movie icon back in the 50’s and 60’s. A couple of Agar movies that grace this are Women of the Prehistoric Planet (1966), and The Mole People (1956). I pounded out a mini-bio for John Agar a while back that you can read here. To be fair, John Agar was always regarded as a nice guy who did the best he could…which is a lot more than I can say about many of the other actors on these purple-hued pages of the Monster Shack.

Hungarian born director Nathan Juran (aka, Nathan Hertz) helmed several monster flicks during the 50’s and 60’s, ranging from delightfully odd to downright awful. His opus includes the dull and completely unnecessary The Deadly Mantis (1957), the bizarre Attack of the 50 Foot Woman (1958), and a decent 1958 film entitled The 7th Voyage of Sinbad (The efforts of special effects legend Ray Harryhausen were certainly key to that film’s success.) After the popularity of sci-fi movies began to wane in the 60’s, Nathan relocated to Europe and spent most of his time directing spaghetti Westerns. I find this Nathan Juran quote from a 1989 Starlog interview rather illuminating:

"I approached the picture business as a business. I always did pictures for the money, and for the creative challenges. I wasn’t a born director. I was just a technician who could transfer the script from the page to the stage and could get it shot on schedule and on budget. I never became caught up in the ‘romance’ of the movies.”

Moving right along, Steve’s fiancé, Sally, is played by Joyce Meadows, an attractive actress who appeared primarily in Westerns and TV sci-fi during her nearly 40-year career. Joyce does a respectable job playing the love interest of a man whom has been taken over by a giant space brain. How you prepare for a role like that is beyond me, but she does an admirable job pulling it off.

Last but not least is Sally’s father played by veteran character actor Thomas Henry. Thomas has appeared in over 150 films and television programs, mostly Westerns and TV guest appearances. Much to my delight, he has popped up in some crappy monster movies including Mr. B.I.G.’s despicable Beginning of the End (1957), the vastly superior Earth vs the Flying Saucers (1956), and the entertaining 20 Million Miles to Earth (1957). (Trivial Pursuit Prep: Ray Harryhausen did the effects for both "Earth vs the Flying Saucers" and "20 Million Miles to Earth"…just so you know.)

OK, I lied. Thomas Henry isn’t the last in the films cast…I have obviously neglected to mention our star: the titular brain: Gor. You see Gor is bad, evil. Just plain mean.

And he’s horny.

Not only does Gor want to take over the Universe, he wants to get a little while he’s doing it. (I kinda like this guy…er, brain.) Gor takes over Steve’s body and delights in the fact that he can now get his hands all over Sally. Well, they’re still Steve’s hands, but you know what I mean. A second brain, Vol, also arrives on Earth in order to arrest Gor for, well, trying to take over the Universe, I suppose. How will they ever stop a mad, ethereal space-brain? Read on and see!

 

Steve Steve March (John Agar)

Nuclear scientist Steve March is chosen to help Gor fulfill his evil plans of universal conquest. This role gave John Agar the chance to do what he loves best: ham it up! I really can’t blame him for having a little fun: Agar had to film several scenes with painful silver contacts lenses. I read somewhere that flecks of silver would occasionally fall off the lenses and into his eyes. Ah, the glory of being a B-movie actor.
Sally Sally Fallon (Joyce Meadows)

Steve’s fiancé Sally spends most of the movie getting fondled by space-brains and making hamburgers for the guys. She does keep a stiff upper-lip when told that she has to date a ‘brain’ for the sake of Earth. We of Earth thank you, Sally.
Dan Dan Murphy (Robert Fuller)

Steve’s assistant researcher, Dan Murphy, turns out to be Gor’s first victim…fried to a crisp by a blast of radiation inside a cave at "Mystery Mountain". Talk about being in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Gor Gor

What can I say? I love this guy. What I wouldn’t give to have him show up at my next margarita party…
Steve-Gor Steve-Gor

While in Steve’s body, Gor enjoys bragging and blowing things up. In that order. He also likes to feel-up Sally when he’s not busy trying to take over the universe.

The fun begins as we open with a still shot of a barren desert. As the credits roll, somebody shines a pen-light onto the picture and moves it slowly downward…oops, sorry. I mean a UFO descends from the sky and crashes into the ground.

Read Cut to nuclear scientist Steve March’s office where he’s busy doing…you know…scientific stuff. Apparently some of his equipment has gone haywire. Steve’s partner, Dan, is not too concerned by the misbehaving gadgets as he continues to read his "Science Fiction" magazine while sitting at his desk.

Ahhh, the irony…Dan reading a Science Fiction rag while actually being in a sci-fi film. (End sarcasm.) Seriously, this is about as witty as the film gets. Enjoy it.

Dan’s cavalier attitude gets under Steve’s skin, and hell, as Steve notes, "The Geiger counters have being going on and off all morning…and the nucli-ometer checks right along with it!"…who wouldn’t be upset? I mean, faulty Geiger counters are one thing, but when the nucli-ometer starts to act up…whoa Nelly!

"You’re talking like a man with rocks in his head," Dan retorts, "Radioactivity is a constant thing." (Hmmm. Well, maybe around Three Mile Island, but I’d be a bit concerned if Geiger counters were ‘constantly’ going off the scale around my place. But then again, I’ve already fathered two children and I’m balding, so I guess I don’t have too much to lose after all.)

At this point the Geiger counter gives another burst and Dan concedes that maybe Steve has a valid point. Puzzled, Dan suggests that the source of the radiation is radon gas seepage, "or maybe a plane flying over the bombing range with an atomic warhead." Nope. Nada. Steve has pinpointed the source of the outbursts to…BUM BUM BUM!…."Mystery Mountain".

"Mystery Mountain," Dan helpfully exposits, "the most God-forsaken spot on the desert. Hasn’t seen a human been since nineteen-hundred when the prospectors gave it up."

In strolls Sally who reminds the guys that they haven’t eaten lunch yet. Anyway, it looks like lunch is just going to have to wait. Yup. Steve insists that he and Dan are to head out to Mystery Mountain right away so they can try to discover the cause of the radiation. But…no! Sally ain’t playing dat! She’s made the coals and the hamburgers are ready to eat. Those pesky bursts of lethal radiation will just have to wait until after lunch. End of conversation.

In a comical continuity error, a pith helmet mysteriously appears on a table while the trio are looking at a wall map. Since the scene is all one shot, an offstage crew member must have snuck onto the set and placed the hat upon the table while the camera was aimed at the side of the room. Ahhh, opening a beer and finding continuity errors…life just doesn’t get any better than this…

HatHat

The Amazing Appearing Pith Helmet

As Dan and Steve hang around on the patio, Sally prepares the burgers and serves lunch. Well, well…how cozy. Who just happens to show up but Sally’s father, John. Steve explains that he and Dan are going to drive out to Mystery Mountain (oh brother) after lunch.

"But why?" John asks.

"A hot blast of gamma coming from Mystery Mountain," Steve answers, "Lucky it’s intermitant…if it was constant, we’d all be fried."

Yes, Steve, it’s good that it’s an occasional burst of gamma radiation so that you won’t be "fried", but it’s OK that your kids will be born with 3 eyes. That’s a relief.

As the guys shove hamburgers into their mouths, Dan mentions to Sally that they’ll probably be gone 3 or 4 days. This really seems like an overly long time to be gone since he also just mentioned that the mountain is only 20 miles away. Maybe they’re going to ride mules out to the site or something.

Anyhoo, after lunch Dan and Steve drive out into the desert in their jeep. After driving as "far as they can" in the jeep (er, ok, whatever), they hop out of their ride and continue on foot: Steve grabs a rifle while Dan takes a canteen full of water and a Geiger counter. Now, I’m not an expert in desert survival, but I would think that a 4-day trip into the desert would require more than a single canteen of water between 2 men. Maybe they’re going to suck rocks…didn’t I read something about that somewhere? Forgive me, I digress. As Steve peers through a pair of binoculars, Dan sips his water and quickly spits it out because it’s too warm. (Um, Dan, what were you expecting in the desert? Really, why is this guy stationed out here anyway? Oh yeah. So a giant space brain can zap him.) Disgusted and shocked at the unacceptable rise in temperature of his water, Dan abandons the canteen on a rock. (Not to beat a dead horse, but I don’t think Dan is cut out for desert duty.)

In a truly absurd bit, Steve spots a pile of rocks through the binos. "They weren’t here last winter," he notes.

Rocks

Those rocks weren’t here last winter!

Time out.

First of all…didn’t Dan say that nobody had been out here since 1900? Even more to the point, does Steve remember every pile of freakin’ rocks in the desert? I’m willing to cut this movie some slack, but, c’mon! Isn’t it a little early in the film for such lunacy?

Ok, ok. Let’s not lose the momentum. Steve and Dan grab their gear and head out to check out this Amazing New Pile of Rocks. A blast of trumpet fanfare and a tight shot of Dan’s canteen on the rock screams to the viewer, "PLOT POINT".

After struggling over rocks for awhile, and may I point out, they’ve walked far too long considering how close the pile of rocks must have been given their size in the binoculars, Steve and Dan reach a cave.

Explore"It’s just been blasted out recently…that explains that pile of rocks," Steve remarks, once again confirming his super-human photographic memory of the local terrain. (By the way, give yourself 2 points if you guessed that this scene was filmed in Bronson Canyon.)

OK, Steve and Dan head into the cave to check things out. Once again, considering that this cave is the source of radiation that can be detected by a hand-held Geiger counter 20 miles away, I would think that more protective gear would be required than just a pith helmet. Then again, I’m not a nuclear scientist.

After a bit the Geiger counter because to go nuts. Steve and Dan go deeper into the caves. You know, aren’t blasts of gamma radiation a bad thing? Aren’t you supposed to go away from them? I wouldn’t be surprised if these 2 nitwits were glowing in the dark after all this.

GorMore exciting Walking Through Caves footage ensues. Finally a glowing light appears in the darkness. "We’re friends…c’mon out," Steve shouts, "We’re coming in…we don’t want any trouble, but we’re armed…in case you are." At this point I would believe that Steve and Dan have overstepped the limits of their authority as nuclear scientists, but…oh well, it’s exciting, I guess.

After a few more false scares and dead ends, the Geiger counter begins to go crazy yet again. (Geiger counters play a large role in this film, as you’ve probably noticed.) Out of one end of the tunnel appears a giant, floating brain with a pair of glowing eyes.

You have now seen what is undoubtedly the best known "Brain" in all of B-Movie history…Gor! The Evil Brain from Outer Space!

Steve responds, of course, by opening fire with his pistol…"We have to get past it somehow," he says. Why yes, I guess you do, don’t you? This whole episode with the brain and what-not gives John Agar a golden opportunity to ham it up as he’s ‘taken over’ by Gor. Meanwhile, Dan is zapped and crumples lifelessly to the cave floor.

Cut to Sally’s house. Chatting on the phone to her father, Sally mentions that she and "Jim" (Who?) are planning on driving out to M.M. to "surprise" Steve and Dan since she hasn’t heard from them in a week. (A week?! Jumping-Jimminy cricket! Didn’t anybody think about going out and checking on these guys?)

As she hangs up the phone she notices that Steve is standing on the porch staring through the window. (An ominous horn blare reminds us that Steve isn’t really ‘Steve’, if you get my drift.) A fairly saucy kissing session ensues, given that this was made in the 50’s. "You know what we found up there…absolutely nothing," Steve tells Sally before planting another big wet kiss onto her mouth.

"Wow!", Sally breathlessly exclaims after detaching her mouth, "You’ve never kissed me like that before."

"I’ve never missed you so much before," Steve-Gor smirks.

"Where’s Dan?" Sally asks after noticing that Steve has returned alone.

Steve-Gor plays it cool, "Oh…you know Dan, a playboy at heart…one week in the mountains and he has to go to Las Vegas to recuperate." (!)

Sally notices that something is different with Steve…something she can’t quite put her finger on. "There’s something different about you," she says.

Ouch!"What do you mean…’different’? I’m still the same old lovable character I always was," Steve-Gor reassures her.

Steve-Gor suddenly lurches from the table and grabs his head in pain. After a moment or two, he recovers. "What happened up there?" Sally demands to know.

"If you mean that pain…it was just a tooth kicking up," Steve-Gor says. (Well, at least giant space brains are crappy liars.)

Steve-Gor puts the matter to rest by planting another wet kiss on Sally’s mouth. "It makes my toes tingle," Sally coos. Alas, Steve-Gor gets a wee bit too excited and shoves Sally back onto a lounge chair where he proceeds to grope her, tears her shirt, and reveals her bra in the process. (I bet this scene was fantasy fodder for not a few teenage boys from this decade. I would love to hear from anybody who was around to actually see this movie in a theater.) Sally’s dog, George, saves the day by attacking Steve-Gor, who is forced to break off this one-sided amorous encounter long enough to fight off the snapping canine.

"You’ve been working too much, you’ve got to see a doctor," Sally pleads.

Gor"Don’t expert me, Sally, I’m alright!" Steve shouts before storming off to his car and speeding away.

Back at his lab, Steve sits in his chair and writhes in pain as Gor exits his body. (Due to budget constraints, you never really see the brain and an actor share the same shot. Well, at least not until the end of the film where…oh well, you’ll see. When a shot does require both to be seen, the brain is simply super-imposed over the actor, as in the screen shot to the left. When you do finally see the massive, balloon-shaped, wire-suspended brain at the end of the film, you can understand the filmmaker’s preference to use the overlay shots as much as possible…)

After leaving Steve’s body, for the moment, Gor introduces himself and gets right to the point, "I am Gor. I need your body as a dwelling place while I am here on your Earth."

"Why me?" Steve understandably asks.

"Because you are a recognized nuclear scientist."

MadOK. Fair enough, but really, how the hell did Gor know who Steve was? Where Steve lived? Did Gor look his address up in the phone book? Why pick a two-bit scientist who lives in the middle of nowhere? If Gor wanted to take over the Earth, why not take command of, say, the President?

"I chose your body very carefully," Gor continues, "Even before I knew about Sally…a very exciting female."

To be fair to John Agar, he does his best to act like somebody who’s holding a conversation with a giant brain. I can only imagine what kind of direction Nathan Juran gave him for this scene…

"Leave Sally out of this!" Steve shouts.

"Why? She appeals to me," Gor retorts in a lascivious tone, "There are some aspects of the life of an Earth savage that are exciting and rewarding…things that are missed by the Brains on my planet Arous." (Down boy! Down!)

Steve freaks, snatches a statuette from the mantelpiece, and hurls it at Gor. The projectile sails harmlessly through the incorporeal cerebrum. Gor informs Steve that he is impervious to weapons, and when all is said and done, it will be Gor who is directing Steve’s body, and there’s not jack-squat he can do about it.

"Turning your simple little will off and on…like a key in a lock," Gor adds, indicating that the Brains on Arous have not yet mastered the use of similes. Steve grabs another knickknack of the shelf and tries to toss it at Gor as well. Too late, Steve fumbles and drops the trinket as he collapses…Gor re-enters his body.

Meanwhile, Sally’s father, John, pops in to say hello or something. Sally worriedly expresses her concerns regarding Steve’s recent behavior.

Water"Did it ever occur to you that he might have something on his mind?" John condescendingly remarks, "If I were you, I’d put another place on the table." As a sop, John offers to go down to the lab and talk to Steve while Sally makes dinner.

At the lab, John asks Steve if anything is wrong. Steve-Gor plays it cool but a sudden burst of pain sends him collapsing onto the desk. As John looks on in concern, Steve-Gor stumbles over to the water cooler and peers through the water…his inhuman eyes shining from within his distorted face. Without turning to reveal his eyes, Steve-Gor tells John to get lost.

Back at Sally’s place, Sally and her father sit at the table and eat dinner. Understandably, Sally picks at her food as she is too worried about Steve to have much of an appetite.

"Aren’t you worried at all about Steve, dad?" Sally asks.

"Of course I am, Sally," John answers between mouthfuls of hamburger, "but Steve’s a grown man: he has his problems…we all have." (Wow. Talk about blowing somebody off.) Sally refuses to drop the issue, so John relents: They will drive out to Mystery Mountain together and see if they can figure out what, if anything, happened to Steve out there.

Cut to Bronson Canyon. Oops. I mean "Mystery Mountain". Sally and her father pull up and park exactly in front of the rock where Dan had put his canteen. (Give me a break…The desert is what? Ten gazillion square miles? And they pull up right there? Ack.) They head down the hillside to…where? Needless to say, they discover the exact same cave that Steve and Dan did. What are the odds, eh? <sigh>

"I’ve been out here with Steve before and I know that that cave wasn’t here before," Sally remarks as she and her father make their way through the thousands of square miles of wilderness. By the way, Steve took Sally out here? Into the middle of BFE? (Ask your parents.) Why? (OK, even if you assume the reason Steve took Sally way out here is the reason that all guys usually take a girl out away from other people, it still seems a little excessive to hike all the way out to Mystery Mountain just to get a little action. Wouldn’t her dad’s basement have been a little closer…not to mention a little cooler? Sorry, I guess I’m just easily distracted today.)

Find!John turns on his flashlight and heads into the cave with his daughter close behind…which can only mean more exciting footage of people walking through caves.

Sally heads off down a side passage but stops when a flash of light occurs. "It’s probably just my flashlight reflecting," John says. Another flash of light sends Sally into a screaming fit because, you know, light is scary. Thankfully, her father calms her down and they proceed further into the gloom.

A few moments later they discover Steve’s discarded Geiger counter…and…<gasp>…Dan’s charred body.

"He’s dead, isn’t he?" Sally asks as John examines the lifeless, charred, weeks-old body.

"All this has something to do with the way Steve’s been acting," Sally continues. Gee…ya think?

As they turn to leave, John and Sally are greeted by the exact same footage that was used when Gor met Steve. (Hey, I like that. They should make a sequel to "When Sally Met Harry" called "When Gor Met Steve".) Anyway, this time it’s not Gor, it’s a good space brain named Vol.

"Don’t be afraid, I am a friend," Vol says.

"I am not of your Earth," says the enormous, levitating, transparent brain with two glowing eyes.

No shit, Sherlock.

Vol continues, "I was sent here by my Leader to capture the criminal, Gor, who escaped from Arous to your planet Earth." Sally and John stare in amazement as Vol adds, "He has already voided that human in the passage." (I really hope that Vol doesn’t mean what I’m thinking…)

Anyway, Vol says that he’ll meet Sally and her father at their home at 8 p.m. the next evening. (How the hell does Vol know where they live…and how does he know what time it is?)

"Dad, what are we going to do?" Sally says after Vol disappears.

"We’ll do what the things says…we have no choice," John answers. Not to nit pick, but I think he’s being pretty nonchalant about the fact that a space brain is coming over for dinner.

Ha ha!The next day we see Steve-Gor kicking back at his desk and calling a one Colonel Frogley (!) at the Atomic Energy Headquarters. After Frogley picks up the line on the other end, Steve asks him about the atomic tests that are being held that week, because even though the tests are just "small ones" (!), Steve-Gor wants to be there to observe. Colonel Frogley complies.

After hanging up the phone, Gor exits Steve’s body again and floats in the corner of the room. (Not in the same shot as Steve, of course.) "So Friday the savages are going to play with their little toys…Gor will be there," the translucent brain chortles. Oh, Gor also has a "surprise" in store…(cue evil space-brain laughter).

Once Steve regains control over his body, he’s a pretty pissed (to put it mildly). Gor takes this opportunity to spew some facts for the viewer, "When I am occupying your body or in my present transitory form, I am without substance and indestructible." Blah blah. Gor carries on for a while, patting himself on the back about how smart he is and all. Well, I know Gor doesn’t have a back, or anything to pat it with, but you get the picture.

Later that evening, at the stroke of 8, Vol appears in the Fallon living room. (You can say what you want about Gor and Vol, but you can’t call them unpunctual.) Hilariously, John and Sally have actually dressed up for the occasion. Well, why not? No reason to be impolite just because their dinner guest is a space brain.

As Vol takes form, George (the dog) begins to growl. "Good dog…good dog," Vol soothes, as if Brains from Arous would know to say that to a dog.

 "I come here on the friendliest of missions," Vol begins, "You can help me save the Earth…the whole Earth." (Oh, the whole Earth, not just five-eighths?)

"I will have to force him out of the body of your friend to take him back to Arous for his punishment," Vol explains, "If I can not…your friend will have to give his life to save the world."

Sounds reasonable to me.

To put the plans in motion, Vol needs a host. Sally offers herself, but her father won’t hear of it. The only problem is that Vol needs a body that would be inconspicuous. Yes, Steve might suspect something with his future father-in-law hanging around all the time. Hell, I know I would. Sally has a bright idea: why not the dog?

Vol agrees to the plan and performs his transparent-overlay-body-take-over thingee on George the dog.

Cut to Steve in his lab. Gor informs him that they will take Sally out for a drive in his car. Not having any choice, Steve can only grit his teeth and comply. "I will enjoy being you tonight," Gor adds, "She gives me a very strange, very new elation!" (Boy, talk about rubbing it in.)

On the way to Sally’s house to pick her up for their date, Steve-Gor pulls the car over and looks up at a passing airplane with his shiny-eyes. The airplane, due to poorly executed special effects, is so transparent that the clouds can be seen through the fuselage. Nice. Anyway, the transparent plane transforms into a model and explodes. Steve-Gor smiles, because I guess he enjoys that sort of thing, and continues on to Sally’s place.

Eyes

Looking good is feeling good.

At Sally’s house the atmosphere is, to say the least, tense. John can’t believe he’s actually letting his daughter go out on a date with Steve-Gor, but Vol warns them that they have to play along and pretend that they don’t know anything or else the Earth will get blown up and all that. When Steve-Gor arrives to pick up Sally for their, heh, heh, date, Vol shrinks back down into the dog, and everybody pretends that things are totally normal.

As Sally leaves the room to find a sweater, Steve-Gor takes the opportunity to apologize to her father about his behavior the other day. He explains that he was mad at Dan because "he ran out on me in the middle of an important experiment." (!) (It does seem odd that Dan’s absence, now lasting over a week, hasn’t raised more attention than it has, but maybe nobody likes the guy.) Sally’s father tells Steve-Gor not to worry about, everybody has bad days, and so on. After Sally returns from her bedroom, sweater in hand, she, the amorous space-brain, and George the Dog, all pile into the car and drive off.

DateCut to see Steve-Gor driving Sally out to some sort of scenic overlook. To my great non-surprise, he almost immediately starts kissing and pawing all over his reluctant fiancé. "You’re turning into a regular cave man!" Sally complains as she slithers out of his grasp and gets out of the car.

Steve-Gor takes this opportunity to brag about how he has a big surprise in store for everybody. He tells Sally that he has a new "invention" that will make the atomic bomb "look like a fire-cracker."

Snuggling up even closer, Steve-Gor murmurs into Sally’s ear that he’s "discovered a power that will make him the most feared my on Earth." (Hey Gor, buddy…you won’t ever get off first base talking like that. Women like it when you talk about them…) Gor eventually gets fed up hinting about his big surprise and starts roughly kissing Sally again. Her struggles bring George-Vol (Vol-In-The-Dog, who is sitting in the back seat of the car) to her rescue. Realizing that the date is going to hell in a hand basket, Steve-Gor backs off as Sally returns to the front seat. Good old Sally tries to pump Gor for information, hoping that Vol could hear the answer from the back seat, but Gor is too smart for that, and drops the whole "atom bomb like a fire cracker" business he brought up earlier.

As Steve starts the car, a reporter announces an airplane crash has occurred at Mount Alamagordo. (You do remember the plane that Steve-Gor, for no reason, ‘zapped’ with his eyes earlier that evening…) "That’s only twenty miles away," notes Sally, so they drive off to see if they can be of any assistance to the rescuers. (Is everything twenty miles away? Mystery Mountain was "twenty miles away" from Steve’s lab…maybe it’s a figure of speech in those parts…"Hey, how far away is the grocery store?" "About twenty miles away!")

OK. Good. At the site of the plane crash Steve-Gor recognizes the Army Colonel who is organizing the rescue. Why a military officer would be at the scene of a civilian crash site is beyond me. Oh, and not to mention…how in the hell would Steve know this guy? And yes, I know I’m being picky here, but stuff like this is just begging to be mentioned.

The Colonel asks Steve to take a look at one of the bodies, but not before telling Sally to avert her eyes so as not to offend her feminine sensibilities. The body is covered in, <ahem>, "flash burns"…well, if you can call a smearing of dirt and shoe polish a "flash burn". With Sally effectively removed from the scene, the Colonel and Steve-Gor head over to a one Professor Tate. (Trivia: The actor playing Professor Tate, Dale Tate, supplies the voices for Gor and Vol…you can thank me later.)

Tate shows Steve a piece of wreckage that has all the signs of radiation burning but no contamination. (Hey, I’m just telling you what he says…I have no idea what he means.) Anyhoo, Prof. Tate says he’s going to take the wreckage to the lab for analysis. Go for it, Dale. Sensing that the scene is nearly over, Sally returns from off camera and says, "I couldn’t help but hearing what he said."

"It could be the beginning of the end," Steve-Gor replies with a mischievous grin.

"What do you mean?" Sally asks.

"You heard what he said…," Steve says, "…If the professor is right, [the crash] was caused by a power from outside of this world."

Well, Steve, I don’t recall Professor Tate saying that, but whatever. Let’s cut Gor some slack and get on with it, shall we?

No crying!After their ‘romantic’ date, consisting of an attempted rape and followed by hanging out at an airplane crash site, Steve-Gor drives Sally home. (Strange how it’s daylight outside again…hmmm. Long date.) Safely back home, Sally breaks down into tears, and collapses into her father’s arms.

"Now Sally, this is a time for thinking and planning, not crying!" John says. (Boy, talk about Mr. Bedside Manner…sheesh! Your daughter was almost raped by an evil brain the size of a Volkswagen. Maybe he should try getting felt up by a space-brain and see how he likes it.)

As Sally collects herself, Vol exits the dog, so to speak, and gives them some more information.

"Gor is not vulnerable while he’s in the body of a human or his transitory state," Vol begins, "Only when he is in his true form can he be killed or captured."

"Can a human kill him at such a time?" John asks.

"It is possible," Vol says, "In his true state, a heavy blow on the point known to your surgeons as the ‘Fissure of Rolando’ can kill."

It also turns out that these brains have to return to a physical state so that they can absorb oxygen. It is only when they are in this state that they can be killed.

Time out.

Whoa.

StareI can take a lot of crap from a film…a lot…but how in the world could these brains have anything in common with human brains. It defies logic. I mean, the Brains from Arous also have a Fissure of Rolando? And why do they have to replenish their oxygen every 24 hours? Doesn’t that seem terribly convenient that this amount of time is exactly the same as one of our Earth days? Why not every 17 years? Every 293 months? Why does rain fall mainly on the plane in Spain? Oh man, this movie is way, way out there. Make sure you find this movie and see it. Not to mention that I’m typing all of these arguments while a huge transparent brain is staring at me from the TV screen where I paused the DVD. Man, I think I’m finally losing it.

The only catch in all of this good news is how to get this information to Steve without Gor finding out. Obviously, they have to sneak the info to Steve while Gor is out of his body…but how? Betcha can’t wait to find out, can you?

Later that evening Steve-Gor is chilling out back at the lab. A knock on the door…why it’s the Sheriff, who’s come to ask Steve some questions about Dan’s disappearance. (Gee, how long has it been? Two weeks? Yeah, I guess it’s about time to ask around, eh?)

Well, it looks like the Law has finally found out that Dan is dead…and the Sheriff ain’t buying Steve-Gor’s BS story about Dan going to Vegas.

Steve-Gor smiles, lights his pipe and sticks to his story about Dan running off to Vegas.

Zap!The Sheriff suspects that Steve has killed Dan because of some sort of love triangle revolving around Sally.

Yadda. Yadda.

Steve-Gor finally gets fed up with the Sheriff’s accusations, gets his eyes all shiny, and zaps the poor old lawman.

If you are ever having a bad day, watch the way that John Agar delivers his lines before zapping the Sheriff. Man, we are talking about Christmas Ham here, baby. You gotta give it to good old Agar, he gave a hundred percent in this film. You must admire that kind of dedication and commitment to a film like this. Either that or he really needed the paycheck.

Cut to some stock footage of a government building…somewhere. Inside the edifice a group of military officers and scientists are examining the plane wreckage. "Heat intense enough to do this," an elderly man says while looking at a piece of scorched metal, "must have been caused by some sort of an A-blast!" (Is that like an ‘a-hole’? Sorry, I had to ask. This has been a long road through this film and I’m grasping for anything right now.)

After Professor Tate explains that the burns are unlike anything he’s ever seen before, the General concludes, "There’s only one answer: We have been invaded. Not the United States, but the World has been invaded." (I must say that this conclusion seems a wee bit hasty.)

Upon hearing the General’s proclamation, the others begin shouting ‘murmur-rhubarb-rhubard-watermelon-murmur’. The presiding Officer decides that the only course of action is to cooperate with the invaders. Furthermore, the atomic tests are to continue as planned (oh, like that’s the most important issue at this point). You remember…the tests where Steve-Gor is to observe. Isn’t that nice how all this ties together? Anyway, ‘rhubarb-rhubarb-murmur-murmur-watermelon’, and the meeting adjourns.

Back at Sally’s place, Steve-Gor continues to creep everybody out, but Sally and her Father maintain their ruse and pretend that it’s just good old Steve and not a horny, egomaniacal space-brain. Sally attempts to wheedle out information regarding the big "surprise" that’s in store at the tests the next day, but Gor is too cunning for that: She’ll just have to wait and see. Eventually Steve-Gor hops into his car and makes off for Indian Springs, the site of the atomic-bomb tests. What he doesn’t notice is that George-Vol runs out of the house and runs along behind the car. (George is going to follow him all the way on foot? Poor mutt.)

Upon arriving at the test site, Steve-Gor shoehorns his way into a top-secret meeting at the headquarters building. Steve insists that he has something very important for all the Army brass to see, and well, being a "recognized nuclear scientist", the presiding General relents and gives Steve 2 minutes to say whatever the hell he has to say.

EyesSteve-Gor asks the attendees to watch a close-circuit TV screen overlooking the test site. As they watch in rapt silence, Steve turns to the window and gets those shiny eyes once again.

Without warning, a bright light is flashed onto the set, I mean an atomic blast occurs, and we are treated to massive amounts of that old 50’s atomic blast stock footage that we’ve all seen a billion times. (You know the ones…the houses that are flash-burned and blown away…)

As the building shakes and trembles, a voice over a loud speaker shouts, "This is an emergency! That was not the planned explosion!" (Gee, ya think?)

"What you’ve just seen me do to that one small area, I can do to a city…a nation…or a continent." Ahh, Gor, you charmer.

"Fantastic!" says General Brown. (That always reminds me of that classic line from Plan 9…"That’s the fantastic part of it!") In an awkward bit of blocking, Steve-Gor tells a Colonel to get out of his seat so a General can sit down. (Huh? Like that’s something Gor would give a shit about?!) Anyway, this of course gives the Colonel the opportunity to sneak up behind Steve and try to shoot him. Result? One deep-fried Colonel.

Now that Steve-Gor has convinced everybody that he means business, he demands to meet "authorized representatives of the United States, England, France, Russia, China, and India." (India?!) After giving them just 10 hours to round up these so called "authorized" (?) people, Steve-Gor cackles like a madman as the officers scurry from the room in order to contact the appropriate people.

Steve-Gor drives back to Sally’s place, eats lunch, and, having exhausted himself blowing up a bunch of buildings and microwaving a Colonel, falls asleep. Sally promises to wake him up in time for the "important meeting" that evening. As Steve dozes outside, Sally chats with Vol inside the house. Vol explains that Gor is tiring because he hasn’t been able to return to his "true state" and replenish his oxygen supply. As was said before, they have to smack Gor in the "Fissure of Rolando" when he takes his physical form…it’s their only chance. (And since there’s only 10 minutes left in the film, they better get going!) Luckily, Steve-Gor mentions that he’s going straight home after the "big meeting" because he’s so tired. Could this be their big chance to save the world?

Later that evening, back in Indian Springs, the representatives from the leading world powers are gathered around a conference table. Steve-Gor and the Russian delegate exchange some sharp words (hey, what do you expect, it was the 50’s..those damn Commies!) Understandably, some of the representatives are skeptical, so Steve-Gor has them watch from a window as he zaps another model airplane.

Convinced that they are dealing with a creature of superhuman power (or with somebody who hates model airplanes), the global delegates return to the table to hear Steve-Gor’s demands. Basically, Gor intends to take over the entire world’s industry in order to create a fleet of space ships.

"Russia wound never agree to it!" shouts the Russian.

"There’s a simple answer to that," Steve-Gor smirks, "Then there’ll be no Russia." The Russian delegate, looking like a whipped puppy, swallows his pride and returns to his seat.

"Your United Nations building will be turned over to me," Steve-Gor commands. (Oh no, not that! Not the U.N.! What will we ever do without that powerful decision making body.) You see, the U.N. building is to be used to instruct the world’s engineers in the art of interstellar spaceship construction.

"What would you do with all this power?" asks General What’s-his-name.

"I will return to my planet Arous, and through its vast intellect, I will become Master of the Universe."

 Steve-Gor adds that after he leaves our world will be returned to us "to live out the rest of its miserable existence." (To be honest, that seems like we got off pretty easy considering what Gor could have done to the Earth. I mean, Gor is basically going to loan the U.N. building, teach our engineers the secret of space travel, and then leave for his planet with a fleet of ships manned by a bunch of Army privates. It’s actually a pretty good deal.)

Back at Steve’s lab, Sally sneaks in and takes out an encyclopedia she brought with her. In the book she finds a diagram of the human brain and scribbles "Gor’s Achilles Heel" along with an arrow pointing to the aforementioned "Fissure of Rolando". (I don’t know why, but I love that name. Sounds like some a mixed-drink you could order on swingers cruise or something…"Bartender…give me a ‘Sex on the Beach’, a ‘Screaming Orgasm’, and two ‘Fissure of Rolando’s!") With the secret message written down, she tears the page out of the book and stashes it under Steve’s pipe rack. As Sally finishes her furtive mission, Steve-Gor pulls up in the driveway, forcing Sally to take cover in a back wrong where the Sheriff’s body has been stashed. (Wouldn’t he be starting to stink by now?)

Once inside, Gor exits Steve’s body and Steve collapses onto his chair. He happens to glance at the piece of paper tucked under his pipes. In a lovely continuity error, we see the page that Sally ripped out has magically returned inside the book.

Coming outComing In

Hey, how did that page get back in there?

We now finally get to see Steve and Gor in the same shot. As Steve realizes the meaning of the message, he spots an axe sitting by the fireplace. Behind him, Gor hovers and gloats about his string of successes. (Gor is actually a bit of a braggart. He loves to go on and on about how he’s going to rule the universe and all that. Quite a tedious space brain.)

AxeSally, still hiding in the back room, chances upon the Sheriff’s body and screams. Gor twists around on his wires, literally, and tries to head-butt Sally. (Or would this be a ‘brain-butt’?) As Sally avoids Gor’s battering-ram tactics, Steve leaps up, grabs the axe, and begins wailing away at the bobbing brain like a kid whacking at a piñata. As Gor’s only attack appears to be head-butting, or maybe trying to get Steve entangled in the wires from which he’s hanging from, Gor is eventually overcome. (George-Vol watches the entire charade from the window. Once the coast is clear, Vol quietly exits the dog.)

You really haven’t lived until you’ve seen John Agar pounding a giant brain-shaped balloon with a rubber axe. This is the stuff of which legends are made.

Once Gor is dispatched, Steve and Sally embrace.

"By the way," Steve says, "How did you happen to know about the Fissure of Rolando?"

"Vol," Sally says between gasps, "Oh, that’s right, you don’t know about Vol…He’s another brain from planet Arous."

Sally turns to George but is unaware that Vol has departed.

"Vol," Sally says to the dog, "Tell Steve what you told me about Gor."

Steve quietly shakes his head in disbelief as Sally pleads with the dog to speak.

After a moment or two, Steve grabs Sally in a hug and grins, "You and your imagination…"

Ha ha. Yeah, who would ever believe that, while your standing ankle-deep in Gor’s minced brain matter.

Final kiss and cut to closing credits.

The End.

Dennis Grisbeck (June 2006)

Afterthoughts

This was a difficult review to write, and not because of the lack of material to have fun with (as you can see from reading the above, there is enough goofy material for several reviews). What made it difficult was because this movie never tried to be more than a B-movie; it never put on airs, pretending to be anything more than a sci-fi cheapie. Because of this earnestness, any attempt to ‘razz’ the film, outside of the occasional ridiculous dialog and cheesy special effect, came across as being mean-spirited and petty. (Despite the general sarcastic tone to my reviews, I do try to be fair, saving the cutting remarks for overblown egos, blatant rip-offs, and contemptible crap.)
It also occurred that I ended up enjoying myself and watching the movie instead of thinking about what to write, so I had to go back many times and re-watch scenes with a critical eye. Take my word for it: see this film, you’ll enjoy it.
Despite what people may say, The Brain from Planet Arous is not a crappy movie. It is cheap, ridiculous, and bizarre, but it is not a bad movie if you enjoy B-grade sci-fi. You can do a hell of a lot worse. See it and judge for yourself: you might find yourself having a lot of fun.

Read more about The Brain from Planet Arous at

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6 comments to The Brain From Planet Arous (1957)

  • Sean Ledden

    I just want to add my two cents worth. Because of Dennis’ review I first rented, and then bought this movie. He’s right, it’s not bad. In fact it’s so gosh darn lovable it’s become one of my favorites. Highly recommended!

  • Dennis

    It’s terribly goofy and adorably inane. Kudos to Agar for putting up with silver contacts for his “possessed” scenes.

  • guts3d

    I bought this from either Amazon or E-bay, and am awaiting a good rainy day to enjoy it. I think I saw this before, as it sounds sort of familiar…

  • Cancer

    Just saw this on the Sy-Fy network. I actully enjoyed watching this. I would see it again. The only complaint I have about is that at the end Vol is all “LATER B**CHS! *NINJAS*” and doesnt even say “thank you” for killing this supposed “super criminal”.

  • Beerman711

    Just a clarifcation. The scene where John Agar is pulling at Joyce Meadows blouse, revealing her bra. In actuality, it was the top part of her full slip that was showing; NOT her bra. But otherwise a great sci-fi movie to watch. I grew up watching them on Chiller Theater and Creature Feature as a kid.

  • Zach

    I found out that Jack Pierce ( creator of Frankenstein and the Wolfman) did the makeup for this movie. This must’ve been just a waste of his talent due to the fact there is hardly any scar makeup in this movie.

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