A Note From The Editor: We apologize for the rambling nature of this review. The film in question provides so little entertainment that frequent side trips were a constant distraction, and on at least one occasion, the car died and we had to catch a bus back to the point. If you wish to forgo reading this, we understand completely, and to assist, we offer the following condensed review of The Atomic Brain: This movie is bad. Don't watch it.
“Can Death be outwitted?” is the first thing we hear,
over spooky-vibraphone type music and the stark title. “Is
the secret of eternal life, just around that corner?” (Which
corner, do you mean that one? No, that's where the new Subway
opened.) “Today, medical science patches up mutilated bodies,
transplanting human skin, eyes, limbs, even vital organs.”
We fade in on a big hospital or university research lab, or like that (we assume). Cutting inside, we see a guy in a clean suit is in a laboratory. “Is the next step, the transplantation of the human brain?” The clean suit guy climbs into a small chamber in the lab. “Many scientists answer 'yes,' but they pause, and add a grim warning.” Oh, that's what those scientists are always trying to do! Next, they hit you up for more funding. You wait and see! “For in the ancient folk-legends tales are told of blood-sucking vampires, crawling out of graves to live on the bodies of helpless victims.” Oh, now they're just trying to scare you. By the way, in the small chamber, the clean-suit guy is seen fussing over some unmoving person strapped upright into a gurney. “Is man now doomed to produce a race of ever-living monstrosities, worse than the vampires of legend?” Well, I don't think the Democrats have that much power anymore...hey, the strapped person is a woman! She's naked, but the straps are just where you thought they'd be.
“Will ruthless men and women of great wealth and power, greedily buy or steal the bodies of the young and beautiful, so their brains may live on forever?” Clean-suit guy leaves the chamber. I guess he was just trying to look around those straps, huh. He goes to a control panel. “Such questions may seem fanciful. But at this very moment, scientists are working on the answer to brain transplantation.” We see clean-suit guy in close up—he has thick, radiation type goggles—as he flicks a few switches and lights start flashing on gurney chick. “And human bodies are used.” Well, I didn't think they'd use trout or gibbons, pal. More flicking of switches. “This girl was buried in a nearby cemetery, yesterday. Only a few hours ago, her body was stolen...by Doctor Otto Frank, and brought to this hidden laboratory. He has grafted a living animal's brain into this newly dead body.” And we see clean suit guy's face again, and I'm going to guess this is the very same Doctor Otto Frank. “If the experiment works,” will this damn dull narration stop?? “the next step will be the transplantation of a human brain. The brain cells are being reactivated by an atomic fission, produced in the cyclotron.” Nawww...yer kiddin' me, right? It's clobberin' time! Man, we're at a minute and a half the running time. Perhaps I shall go berserk if it continues in this vein.
Actually, the narrator shuts up while we watch some swirling fog and flashing lights in the young lady's gurney room. I guess I should have mentioned that while Dr. Frank was twirling knobs, her body descended into unknowable levels of reality...or maybe the floor below.
“Has he found a way to outwit death?” the narrator, back from his cigarette break, asks. “Or has he created another [loud blare of brass instruments]?”
Okay, having rewound a couple of times, he says either “monster” or “monstrocity” either way we get the message. It wasn't “new way to make lemon meringue pie” like I was hoping.
There's a loud pulsating sound on the soundtrack. (I'm thinking that “monster” guess is probably a good one, just based on evidence so far. Also, I'm hoping she'll go berserk and kill the narrator.) Doctor Otto Frank looks up, and up (following as the strapped girl rises back into the chamber, I'm guessing) and...fade.
Fade to a cemetery. Typically fog-enshrouded, with a reflecting pool, low-hanging trees, the works. A guy with a flashlight approaches the caretaker's house. Guy With Flashlight looks like a security guard. And the way he's descending in the next shot, this is not the caretaker's house, it's a tomb with a lighting system. Guard With Flashlight has his gun drawn.
“Deep below,” the narrator says—damn, are we going to have to put up with you the whole damn movie? What is this, The Creeping Terror II? Argh! Anyway, “Deep below, Doctor Frank takes the chance of smashing his way into a newly sealed vault.” He takes this chance by raising a big sledge hammer. “His experiments cannot continue without another body.” My mistake, he's actually using a hammer and chisel.
I wonder if anyone watches these kinds of movies, just to review them, other than me. And what the hell kind of a name is Roy!
Sorry, back to our cinematic spectacular. Doctor Frank pecks at the vault walls. I suspect at this rate we'll be here a while.
Back outside, the guard...who was just descending the steps a few seconds ago...stops to shine his flashlight on the statue of a cherub. And there are willow trees in the foreground, so, no, this is not an extensive underground system of vaults that guard has to traverse before coming to the bustin'-in Doctor. Perhaps a) the guard got scared and went back upstairs, or b) there are two guards.
Anyway, he reaches behind the cherub statue and pulls out something small. “The watchman's mind was not on body snatches,” we're told, as the guard sits and looks at whatever he picked up. Hey man, you touch it, it's yours, if it's garbage you have to throw it away.
“Just his usual nip,” the narrator fills in, and while guard drinks, he gets this little flute-drinking-motif which is a bit classier than the Three Stooges SHTUNK-SHTUNK-SHTUNK-SHTUNK sound effect, but it's the same idea. He carefully puts his hooch back behind the statue, we see Doctor Otto Frank clunking for a moment, then...okay, there have to be two security guards. No way this guy could have gotten back down there! Argh! Anyway, it's fricken moot as the guard is killed by a guy (lit from below, like in all good tombs) who has a really cheesy set of fake vampire teeth. No, no, they can't expect me to think these are REAL vampire teeth? Can they? Eh?
Oh man. Apparently they can, and do.
Anyway, back to Doctor Otto Frank, he is still chipping away at the wall. “Inside the vault, a body waits,” says the narrator. No! Really? What religion is the Pope, Mr. Narrator, and who the heck is buried in Grant's Tomb? Canya tell me, canya canya? Please?
Anyway, we see the aforementioned body, it's a young dark-haired woman. And just for good measure, we cut back to the Fake Vampire Cheese Guy, still killing that guard. Film footage man, use it or lose it!
Now...someone else apparently has noticed the Fake Vampire Cheese Guy killing the guard, and he stealthily approaches the scene. Not sure who this guy is, he's sticking to the shadows like gum on a carpet. Oh, now he shows up in the light, and it's Doctor Frank. Doctor Otto Frank. Frank, Otto Frank. Cue guitar music. Hey, it just struck me...Frank? As in, Frankenstein? They couldn't could they? Oh God, I'm afraid to put it past them.
I have to admit, barely over the four minute mark and the rate of this movie's steady descent though the levels of illumination is damn, damn rapid.
Anyway, we see Fake Vampire Cheese Guy in close-up and maybe he has a pig nose. With his sideburns and greasy hair he looks like he ought to be singing rock-a-billy. No, no, movie, that was a joke, please don't!
“This is one of the Doctor's mistakes, a monstrosity,” says the Narrator, “an animal's brain grafted to a human body. Leaving the dead watchman, the Monstrosity carried the girl's body out of the vault.” It's a good thing they said that while it was happening, or I might have been confused watching the exact same thing on the screen. But we have a better name for him than Fake Vampire Cheese Guy at least. Some of the music is kind of interesting, by the way. It's not really memorable, but it has the feel and orchestration of early Schoenberg. Flute, French horn prominent.
“It [the Monstrosity] fears and obeys one master...Doctor Frank.” Although, it didn't obey him much when he (probably) told it, “Don't kill anyone.” Based on the Doctor's expression, I don't think he expected to find a dead guard there. But maybe he forgot to be specific. You know those Monstrosities, you have to write everything down for them, and even then it's a crap shoot if they'll do it or not.
Here's a thought, though. Since Monstrosities are usually pretty strong, why not have him carry both the girl and the now dead guard? That way you'll have an extra body when your experiments with the girl fail. Um, I'm guessing they will. Anyway, two bodies for the price of one, it just makes sense and besides, the guard is fresh and he'll just spoil if you leave him out all night. Also, isn't a dead body left at the scene, well, kind of a clue that there's been murder done?
We see the Monstrosity and Dr. Frank carrying the body up a flight of wooden steps. Clarinet on the soundtrack. Some flute, then, and maybe an oboe to harmonize. We see everyone emerge from the vault's entrance, past the...the sculpted deer and such, just move along, don't ask about the deer! When he gets to the top of the stairs, Dr Frank waves to the Monstrosity, like, come on, come on! And they disappear into the night, like dimly seen spirits, briefly glimpsed against the star light as their cursed hour draws nigh, and depart they must. As mist before the rising sun's beams, so would they too scatter, until next their cursed time arise.
Or something. More flute and clarinet on the soundtrack, as the Doctor pulls open the rumble seat of his swell speedster. Very slowly and carefully, the Monstrosity puts the sheet-draped form of the young female copse into the black compartment of automotive eternity, yawning as ever for fresh youth--
Okay, I'll stop talking like that. You guys, you have no idea. I'm not just trying to convey what's going on on screen now, I'm trying to keep myself awake and interested. It's not easy, believe me. So, okay, I foreswear to be more straightforward as we go forward, but if you see me lapse into this kind of crap-speak again, don't send angry emails, just kick me in the shin and wake me up. I'll be grateful, honestly. Unless you kick too damn hard. And yeah, I know you're just waiting for an excuse. Yes, you. Back there, with your fake cheesy vampire teeth and stupid-looking sideburns. You and your dumb band never cover Billy Lee Riley, do you? Tell me you've never heard of him and you have to shave your sideburns. With a brick.
[Brief coughing fit] So: “The Atomic Brain.” With a title like that, you would expect a small mechanical brain powered by nuclear fission, right? And it would be placed in some geeky guy's head and he'd figure out the formula of Love, right, and gangsters would be after him, because he could also beat the odds at Las Vegas. Well, that's if the movie was made in the 60's by Disney. And it would probably be pretty lame then, wouldn't it? When the geeky guy was returned to normal, it would turn out that the hot chick liked him just for himself the whole time, and the mean jock would be a sensitive guy, who needed the geeky guy to help him pass his chem lab, because he wanted to be a formula one racer, and they'd have a race with hot rods in which they'd bond, and team up against the (still there) gangsters, who would get splattered by wet paint and pie entrails. And I'm sure an ape would run amok, though amusingly.
Sorry, I'm already tired of this movie. I already wish I was watching the one with the geeky guy (which, I hate to crush your dreams, was never made) instead of this narration-o-rama. But I will persevere. Just no more tonight.
So, tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow and whatever the rest of that quotation is, waits for no man. So here we are again, Dr. Frank, the Monstrosity and the Dead Girl are now driving (in separate seats) back along a country road. For quite some time, too. Finally, he pulls up to the gates of this mansion, pushes the button on his glove compartment, and instead of seeing maps and things spill out all over his lap, we cut to see the gates by sheer coincidence happening to open just then. And he drives through the gate. And up the driveway. And they sit in the car and watch a lighted window. And then they get out of the car.
Over footage of Dr. Frank switching things on and frowning over the girl's body (a shot of her face is exactly the same as when she was in the vault) the narrator starts his damn yapping again. “Here beneath the old mansion the doctor carefully prepared for another transplant. This body had been in the vault for only a few hours. Chances seemed better this time. Still, Dr. Frank was doubtful. Tissue in dead bodies deteriorates rapidly. Where were the live, fresh bodies he'd been promised?”
Well, how about the damn guard you just killed? What could be fresher than that? (Though not very “live” of course.) Admittedly he wasn't a young girl, but here's something else...if the woman was in the vault, doesn't that mean she's been embalmed? How is a transplant going to do anything? Doc, I think I see the flaw in your methods. Nice work on the Monstrosity, though.
“He bitterly resents that every step forward depends on the whim of a miserly old woman, brooding upstairs in her bedroom.” And we fade to this woman, not really brooding so much as downing a stiff one. Hey, I'm with you, lady!
“And, Hedy March wonders—has she been a fool squandering money on this strange experiment? Money horded through a long, greedy lifetime, each day more money, each day death getting closer? Ah, but to start life again, in a brand new body...beautiful and young...”
Hey! A kitty cat! Black, semi-longhair cat eating the remains of Hedy's dinner.
“No price can be too high for that. Can she really trust the doctor, can she really trust anyone? Hasn't everyone tried to cheat her, wanting her money while they smiled at her ugliness?”
Hedy begins waving a golf club around, and a servant or someone dashes in. He hurriedly puts on his coat, then picks up the cat and leaves.
“But they never got a penny. Oh, how she made them sweat! Especially this old fool [the cat guy], companion and gigolo. How many years she's kept him dangling on promises.”
Gigolo comes back in and straightens his tie in the mirror. Man, he was able to make that cat stay away more successfully than I have ever managed. Even now, it's a fight over the keyboard. He wants to sleep on it. I want to type on it. Yes, yes, I know who you're voting for! Grumble. Nothing, nothing.
“Well,” the narrator purrs, “sometimes it's convenient to have a man. Especially when he comes cheaper than servants.”
And OH MY GOD we now get the first actual dialogue in the film!
“That the Austrian girl?” asks Gigolo. Apparently Hedy has some papers somewhere where he can see them and we can't.
“'Nina Rose, eighteen, no family, pleasing personality,' whatever that might mean,” Hedy says. “Humph. Thick ankles. Pimply face. But she always smiles when she's spoken to, very likely.”
“Well, applications forms for a servant girl don't usually include bust, waist and hip measurements,” Gigolo points out. And I hope we have learned something today.
“We interrupt this program--” the radio says quietly, but Gigolo says “All three will be here tomorrow, and then you can choose.” Thanks Gig, I probably wanted to hear that announcement. It might have been my winning lottery ticket!
Oh, sorry, jumped the gun. The old lady points at the radio, Gig shuts up, the volume goes up and we hear how the body snatchers murdered the night watchman we saw earlier.
Hedy shuts off the radio. “Ring for Doctor Frank,” she orders Gig, and he hops to.
“So that's what he was doing,” she says pretty peeved. Dunno, from her earlier talk about pretty girls and the narrator telling us she wanted to live forever, I wonder if her peevement comes from the horror of it all, or the fact that the doctor didn't let her watch?
Down in the lab, the gizmos are beeping and the Doctor's all suited up to have another peek at a naked chick. You have to remember, this was before the internet, people had to go a ways to see some skin. “I'm a Mad Scientist doing forbidden experiments, honey” probably wasn't the most shameful or embarrassing line you could use in a bar.
Anyway, yeah, he's lowering another naked chick (with those hiding straps) into the swirling mist. Great sound effect, I note here. Of course, I'm wondering here, he wanted to do transplants, has he done that already, I mean, before lowering her into the dry ice? Does he know what “transplant” means? “I will be the first man to transplant a naked girl into a chamber of dry ice fog!” Well, it's good to start small and work your way up, doc.
He switches some more switches, then goes into the chamber to check on the girl. Yeah, that's what he told me too. The door closes behind him, and then the lab door opens and Hedy and Gig enter.
They watch the Doctor do stuff in the chamber. Gig, watching his longed-for dollars bleed through this laboratory, mumbles something about “hocus pocus” (I couldn't make it out and I ain't going back in there, no sir).
“The doctor transplanted the brain from a live dog to a dead human body,” Hedy says. “You saw the creature walk out of that cylinder [the naked girl chamber] alive.” Wonder if she means the Monstrosity? Um, does that count as a success? I guess it depends on your goals.
“How many failures,” Gig cynics. “...Still, it's your money.”
Doctor Frank emerges from the chamber, and without pausing for any Hi or How you doin' or any pleasantries, says “The bodies must be fresh.” He turns to examine the gal in the chamber.
“This specimen is excellent,” he notes.
Hedy starts hitting him. “And the police are looking for the body snatchers!”
Doctor Frank tells her and Gig not to worry, if the police get too close, he's got it set up so that he touches a switch, and the whole lab, mansion and all becomes a giant radioactive hole in the ground. Wow, great plan!
Hedy's a bit spooked by this, but rather than, say, demand that the only key be with her (you know the Doctor would keep a copy) just tells him to “be careful!” the way she might tell a nephew to stay away from that consarned wasp's nest. For someone obsessed with living forever, she takes to living on top of an atomic bomb pretty well.
By the way, I'm thinking I can guess the ending. Can you?
“But we can wait for that [the radioactive hole in the ground],” the Doctor tells her, “until after your operation.” You mean he's just itching to set this bomb off? Wow, you're madder than I thought, Dr. Frank.
“Nothing must go wrong,” Hedy says.
They then proceed with bringing the dead girl back to life. The Doctor goes in and moves his hand in front of her, and she opens her eyes,. Then he leaves.
Well, gosh, I'm convinced, where do I sign up? And are there any costly medical tests, or complicated forms to fill out?
Wait, hold the Champaign, Doctor Frank says that the girl “lacks but one thing—a brain.” He goes on to explain that “Hans was still living when we dragged him from the wrecked car” and that's why he's okay. If he means the Monstrosity, well, I dunno his definition of “okay.”
Hedy points out that she “looks alive” and Doctor Frank says she is “to an extent” but because of all the brain deterioration she's basically pretty to look at and not much else.
Gig goes to the window on the chamber and despite all the DO NOT TAP ON GLASS signs I'm just betting are there, proceeds to tap like crazy until the girl opens her eyes again and looks at him. A gigolo to the max, huh Gig!
Cut to a small plane landing at an airfield. And it taxies to the terminal. And everyone gets off the plane. And so on, and so forth. And finally, to some weird-ass “comical” xylophone music, some slinky women go and sit on a bench. One of them, all bundled up, I'm betting is that “servant girl” alluded to earlier. She's quite cute. The other, a bombshell blonde, has a cockney accent and asks the first girl “How far away is Hollywood from here?” Yeah, of course, I always ask the people I came with on the plane where the local landmarks are. Since they're strangers too, they must know! Sorry, I know there's a joke in there but I can't pry the little weasel out of this pipe.
Anyway, the brunette gets out a map and points out where Hollywood is. She asks the blonde if that's where she's going. The blonde says, no, “I'm what's known as a foreign domestic...scrubbing floors” and so on. Ooh, I bet these two are applying for the same job! You know, body donor to Hedy. I mean, servant girl. Same thing, really.
And yes, brunette (who is from Vienna, Austria) was also brought here by the “domestic servant agency.” And wouldn't you know it, remember Gig said three girls? Well, a dark-haired girl sits on the same bench, says “Por favor, I no speak English very good,” and hands the brunette a note. Brunette examines it, frowns, and gets out her own letter, while we cut to Gig in a car looking over the three applications while he (I'm guessing) tries to spot the newly arriving trio. I'm guessing he's spotted them as he finally gets out of the car.
Back to the bench, brunette asks if dark-hair is going to work for Mrs. March [Hedy] too? “This sounds like a sister act!” says blonde, pulling out her own application.
However, suspicion doesn't appear in these gals' dictionary. Gig shows up and asks them to come along.
“Three new bodies, fresh, live young bodies,” the narrator returns with relish. “No families or friends within thousands of miles, no one to ask embarrassing questions when they disappear.” Gee, why don't you just give away the whole plot, man!
The car drives through the highways. We see a lot of this. More than we really need to get the idea. “Victor [apparently this is Gigolo's real name] wondered which one Miss March will pick,” the narrator asks. “The little Mexican, the girl from Vienna, or the buxom blonde? Victor knew his pick, but he still felt uneasy, making love to an 80-year old woman in the body of a twenty year old girl—it was insanity. Still, his plan to transfer the fortune to the new body had been brilliant...unpleasant to think of what was going to happen to these girls, but a man has to consider his own future. What would happen to him, if Hedy were to cast him off after all these years?”
The party arrives at the mansion, stays at the gate for a while, while the gals ask about how creepy it is, are there any other servants (“No, but I don't think you're going to find it boring,” Gig offers). The gals look uneasily at each other. Gig, why not don those fangs and talk like Bela Lugosi while you're at it, the night is still young.
To the tones of eerie vibraphones, the gates open. And the car drives in. (All of this is done in relatively complete takes—in other words, none of this sissy “We'll show the gates opening, the car moves forward then we cut to inside the house” stuff. I don't think the audience will know how they got from the car to the house, someone probably complained, and I think I can see where Hal P. Warren picked up some of his technique.)
Anyway, during this long drive to the house, we briefly see the Monstrosity lurking about, then the car stops at the house, everyone gets out of the house, Hedy peeks at them through the blinds, everyone comes up the steps, the cat goes downstairs, everyone comes inside, the music becomes sort of clarinet with weird coughing percussion-trumpet or some damn thing. Spanish gal gazes about the front hall and happens to see the face of Monstrosity pressed against the glass of some window. She screams, one of the other gals says “What was that?”
“No one should leave this house without permission,” says Gig, and realizing he needs to be back where the three women are to add to the illusion, he dashes back into the entry room. “Hurry along, hurry up, now go!” he bullies, and the three women trot off camera, and then upstairs. And upstairs some more. And more. Finally, they reach Hedy's room, she opens the door with her cane and orders them to put down their luggage. She examines each of the girls like fresh horses. She orders Gig to get the doctor. In an amusing bit, the same footage used earlier when he tapped on the glass at the dead girl, is now used to show him tapping at the doctor, who is of course in the dead girl chamber.
Gig strides around the lab, waiting for the doc to emerge from his swell chamber. You can practically hear Gig humming dum te dum te dum, etc. He then notices Dead Girl, standing in the corner, and our old pal the narrator coughs up some exposition.
“As with the other bodies stolen from cemeteries, the nerve endings of the brain were too far gone to receive a proper transplant. The experiment had failed to produce anything more than a walking, breathing zombie-like creature. But the doctor permitted her to wander about the laboratory as she was quite harmless and, at times, even amusing.”
Remember how I said earlier if they'd snatched the dead guard, they wouldn't have this “brain dead too long” problem? Well, I'd just like to point out that I'm not going to repeat myself here. Boy, wouldn't it be great if there was a word that meant “I'm not going to repeat myself here”? I'd use it all the time and cut down on word count. Not to mention daily conversations.
“Charming, isn't she?” the doctor asks Gig. “Did you want something?”
Gig informs him of the arrival of the three girls. Doc nods and goes off to hobnob with the wealthy and the soon to be dead. “She doesn't have a brain?” wonders Gig. “There might be advantages.” But instead of some kind of necrophilia stuff he's hinting at, he brings the Doc to Hedy. (You'd think Doc would know the way by now. Maybe his titanic brain is so filled with other knowledge he can't remember basic facts. That's one explanation, anyway.)
The doc takes the gals off to be examined. Gig wants to tag along, but Hedy tells him the doc can do the exams “perfectly.” She then laughs evilly at him and says “What an old spoil-sport I am!” She then turns serious and asks if he has disconnected the phone. I don't mean to bring you down or anything, but we just passed the twenty minute mark.
We then fade to the Doc and Hedy examining Spanish Gal. She has a birthmark on her back, a port wine thing that um, only kind of looks drawn on with marker. Hedy, however, declares her hideous and completely useless and such, and says to doc, “You can do what you like with her!” The other two are apparently perfectly free of birth-marks. Doc tells Spanish Gal to get dressed. Just then, a werewolf howls.
...no, I'm not kidding. That's exactly what happens. What do you mean? No, I promise, honestly, I wouldn't make anything like that up. Well....yes, yes I would, but I'd fess up right away. No, there was a werewolf howl on the soundtrack, and Spanish Gal got all terrified up when she heard it. I suspect it was Monstrosity, myself, but you know, putting a dog's brain in a person's body does not repeat NOT give that person the throat of a dog. It's in all the scientific journals. Now, I'm kidding about that being in journals. See? You can trust me. There was a werewolf howl on the soundtrack.
Sure enough, we cut to Monstrosity, standing outside and kind of moving around restlessly. He doesn't let loose with another howl, but we're made to see the completeness of the picture through a rare subtlety not often used. At least, not in this film.
Fade. Now, the two all-right-and-fine gals are preening in their bedclothes for Hedy. Austrian Gal says she doesn't want to work here anymore. Hedy lays down the law about "documents" and things like that.
Cockney Gal takes the moment of silence that ensues to point out that she has the same measurements as Marilyn Monroe. She giggles annoyingly and lets the towel drop a bit, so Hedy can see...what we can't, as Hedy's head is blocking what's honestly just the middle of Cockney Gal's back. Gig pops in at this moment, Cockney Gal hastily reapplies her towel, and...where is this scene taking place? There seem to be toiletries and such on a table in the foreground, but then in the midground is this odd-looking machine, like a double oscilloscope. The ceiling is kind of pyramid shaped, and there's a big rectangular bit near Hedy and Gig. Also, a big reflector light near the back. It's like some surreal department store. And it's the only interesting bit in the whole scene, except Gig congrats Cockney Gal on getting the job. In fact, he says (while Cockney Gal giggles like Betty Boop) “Allow me to be the first to offer congratulations...to both of you,” which makes Cockney Gal look kind of worried for a second.
In the next second, though, Gig is showing her the room she will occupy, and she's all wide-eyed. She bounces on the bed to comical xylophone music, and kicks off her shoes.
Gig is taking the other two out to their rooms, which are in the basement and the upper floor respectively. But I get the feeling neither will be staying the night, at least, not as humans! Austrian Gal, suspicious, tries the phone but finds the wires have been cut.
In the lab, the doc is zapping lights into the dry ice pool. Outside, the Monstrosity is lurking about. (You'd think they'd keep tabs on his whereabouts, huh.) He seems to be knocking on Spanish Gal's door. She gets up, turns on the light, opens the door (with a lot of reluctance) and we get a close up of her mouth screaming. I bet no one heard that, though.
The next morning (I'm guessing) Cockney Gal and Austrian Gal are discussing Spanish Gal. “Are you sure she's not in her room?” Austrian Gal seems to be polishing something, which is awfully nice of her since she didn't get the job and all. They seem to think Gig might have taken her in the morning (in the car, you guys). “But she would have said goodbye,” wonders Austrian Gal. Me, I wonder if Austrian Gal got a job anyway, just not the housing-the-old-lady's-brain job? I suppose good help is hard to find and all, and I imagine Gig's tired of doing all the polishing. Hire someone to do the polishing, please, he probably begged.
Still, the remaining gals don't seem to give much of a toss for Spanish Gal. “It's funny, though,” Austrian Gal says. “Mrs. March [Hedy] wouldn't even listen when I asked--to be dismissed.”
Yeah, how about that, they both seem to shrug and go on about their polishing.
Hedy pops in and asks what on earth they're doing?
Cockney Gal answers that she told them last night that Hedy wanted them to clean and polish, but Hedy's irked that they're “using their hands” which will “leave a stain on them.” She barks a few more orders about cleaning, then Austrian Gal asks about Spanish Gal.
“Anita [Spanish Gal]?...oh,” Hedy mutters. Hey, what they hell is this, it's like some kind of broken boat.
In the movie? No, no, sorry, it was in my bag of snacks. Just a broken pretzel thing. I went ahead and ate it, if you're interested.
Also if you're interested, Hedy uses a wheelchair a lot, but she can also pop around quite well without it, which reminds me of Guy Caballero from SCTV, and how funny that show was, and how dreary this movie is. Had SCTV done this movie, John Candy would be the Monstrosity, Catherine O'Hara would have been Cockney Gal, Andrea Martin would be Hedy, Joe Flaherty would have been Gig, and probably either Eugene Levy or Dave Thomas as Doc Frank. Not sure what Rick Moranis might do...maybe Austrian Gal, or maybe there's a cop who shows up. One thing's for sure, it would be funny!
...yeah, back to this version. Hedy says that Spanish Gal “left...last night.”
Austrian Gal pops up with another request to quit. Hedy says she'll discuss it, another time, and she shuffles off. Man, every place I've ever worked, someone wants to quit, they say, “Fine, get outta here.” Maybe this takes place in France, somehow.
Back to the lab and Doc fretting over his dry ice. Up from the depths rises the naked-girl-holding-pod...but we cut to Hedy calling for Austrian Gal. Cockney Gal pops up instead. But Hedy wants Austrian Gal. She doesn't want Cockney Gal doing any work.
“Those pretty legs of yours [she says to Cockney Gal] will get ugly muscles. Send [Austrian Gal] to me!” Cockney Gal goes off to find Austrian Gal, but Austrian Gal finds her first and they sneak off to Spanish Gal's room. All of Spanish Gal's belongings are still there (Gig, you idiot!). This room has the same odd ceiling as the one in the scene I mentioned aeons ago. Gosh, you don't think they reused the set, did they?! Especially since Spanish Gal's room is supposed to be in the basement.
While concerned, Cockney Gal doesn't care as much as Austrian Gal. But Austrian Gal leads her to another locked room. They manage to force the door, just as doc is leaving from another door (to the lab) while he's holding kitty cat. Doc, suspicious, glances around but doesn't see the women as (I'm suspecterating) they've gone into the other room.
“One last experiment before Doctor Frank would be ready,” the narrator pops into the film again, as Doc returns to the lab still carrying kitty cat. “But this was the most critical of all the experiments. For the first time, the grafting operation would be performed on a living human body. And the brain would come from the doctor's favorite cat.” A quick cut to Spanish Gal in the chamber, and another quick cut to show Cockney Gal looking through a window or something at the lab's interior. “Anita was ready.”
We see the two gals hurrying back to their rooms, and footage of Cockney Gal hurriedly packing. There's a knock at the door, but it's only Austrian Gal. “What about your clothes?” “Never mind, let's go.”
Elsewhere, Hedy's reading a book, using a magnifying glass. Oh, those were the days! She looks around suddenly, as if a feeling a powerful disturbance in the Farce, as if a couple of hot chicks suddenly cried out about scramming, and were just as suddenly hushing up about it, hoping to get away and all. She puts her book up. The two gals cautiously open the door...no, they don't, but we see Hedy wheel past the room. The two gals decide to wait a while. Oh good-o, I was hoping his would go on forever. I mean, why buck a trend, eh, you stupid movie.
To comical flute and bassoon music, Hedy gets up from her wheelchair (I think I mentioned Guy Caballero earlier, if not, well—Hey! Guy Caballero!) and goes downstairs. We get to watch every step.
Having decided that ten to twenty seconds was enough of “a while,” our heroines decide now's the time for that escaping stuff they're interested in doing. Meanwhile, I'm hoping you can bear the excitement, Hedy has passed the ground floor and is heading into the basement. The two gals go down to the first floor.
Hedy in the basement, the gals on the stairs, repeat that a lot 'til nobody cares, round and round the women all go, allemande left make the film go slow.
I have to make up the entertainment as I go, fellows.
Hedy sees where the door lock was busted right off (by the gals, remember). And the gals...are now in the basement. What happened to that “escaping” stuff you were so interested in, ladies? The basement is the WRONG WAY OUT.
The gals see Hedy in the hall, but she doesn't see them, so they scoot right back up the stairs into the maw of a giant, pulsating starfish! Roaring horribly, it uses its grinding plates to shred and devour them, then shoots a tentacle out which impales Hedy through the brain!
--no, no, sorry, none of that happened. But I'm fighting to stay awake here. The gals scoot back upstairs. Perhaps it's, like, Saturday or something, and maybe Monday would be better for escaping because you'd get out of work, too. More bassoon and flute music with some eerie lab noises and a bit of percussion, as Hedy calls out for Cockney Gal. Then we're back in the lab with the doc, because you just can't get enough of that kind of thing, at least the movie is hoping, because it's certainly all you can eat. We see Walking Dead Gal again, walking around. She walks out of the lab, because doc was tinkering with his devices again, you know how men are.
Back to Hedy calling out for Cockney Gal again, with no response. We see every step of the way as she walks down the hall to Cockney Gal's room and knocks on the door. Inside, Cockney Gal and Austrian Gal are worried that Hedy will see the packed bags and think something is up. Austrian Gal solves this by putting the bag on the floor, and Cockney Gal finally answers Hedy. So, Hedy locks them in. “She's locked us in,” one of the gals notes. Austrian Gal stands by the door and calls out for Hedy to open it. Outside this very same door, Hedy is pointedly ignoring Austrian Gal. Is your heart holding up okay? Should we take a rest or something? No? Okay, just wanted to check.
Outside, Gig is driving up in the station wagon. It seems to be day now, maybe it was the whole time. Austrian Gal comforts Cockney Gal. Now, I think we were supposed to “get” the idea that the gals had been locked in all night, but when we cut to their room, Austrian Gal was still standing in the same way next to the door, she then turned to Cockney Gal. Otherwise, why show us a whole shot of Gig driving up the driveway?
Well, I supposed “Because I shot the scene, and paid to have it printed, and I couldn't fit it in anywhere, so I just put it in where ever I felt like it” is probably the right answer. I'm having this thought that I'm the only person who is ever going to see this movie all the way through, and that's only because it's my job. I can't imagine anyone doing it for, uh, entertainment.
And now we cut to Hedy, still outside the gal's room, now calling for Gig. So I guess all that speculation up there was a total waste of your time. Well, sorry, but now you know what I'm going through here, to a slight degree. That's assuming you're still here. I'm not sure I'd be, if I was in your shoes. Sob.
Anyway, we get an exciting scene of Gig walking up those very popular stairs. Notably, he did not come up through the basement. He finally gets up to her, she complains “Well, it took long enough,” (oh brother did it ever) and he says that the lawyer will see her tomorrow to change her will. He then helps her downstairs.
Cut to (I think) Spanish Gal, looking very intently...at (in the next shot) a small rodent in a cage with one of those exercise wheels. I'm guessing this is the aftermath of that “cat brain transplant” thing we heard about, can we assume that and get on with it?
Hedy and Gig appear, and walk slowly across the lab floor to where the doc is. He turns toward them. Everyone moves to look inside the Naked Gal Chamber.
“You've failed,” Hedy says.
Without a word, he points out Spanish Gal (who is at the opposite end of the lab—what the heck were they looking at in the NGC? No, no, forget I asked! Get on with it!). Everyone turns and gapes like they've never seen a Spanish Gal before. There's a “meow” and Spanish Gal licks her lips.
“She thinks she's a cat!” says Hedy. Spanish Gal now has her hands over her face, either because she's still a person and scared, or because like most cats she hates being condescended to. No, my mistake, it turns out she was drinking from a saucer (which she was holding in her hands). “Nice kitty,” says Doc Frank, and takes the saucer away.
Then, in the best scene in the entire film, she growls very nastily at Hedy, and swipes at her! Hedy jumps back and has this great expression on her face! Doc Frank chuckles at his employer's discomfort and notes that Kitty still doesn't like the way Hedy treats her, “can't say I blame her.” Boy doc, lucky you're needed for that whole brain transplant thing or Hedy would tell you off but good. He strokes her hair and she starts purring.
“Does she have ALL the instincts of a cat?” asks Hedy in a, well, rather unattractive close-up.
Doc releases the little rodent from the its cage, and Spanish Gal growls, grabs the mouse, and brings it up to her mouth. ”She ate it!” grimaces Hedy.
Thank you, director, for not showing the scene where Spanish Gal batted the cat around, trapped it, tormented it for a bit, let it run before catching it again, finally letting it get under the refrigerator where the doc had to poke it out with a broom handle while Gig used a coat hanger. Also, I guess the Litter Box Scene was cut, too, and the part where Gig was trying to read a newspaper and Spanish Gal sat on it so that he couldn't.
Meanwhile, outside, Living Dead Gal is walking down some MORE STAIRS, DAMN WHAT IS UP WITH THE STAIRS in this movie? Like everything else, this happens very, very slowly. She walks toward the camera and then out of range.
Well, having accomplished...something, I suppose, we cut back to Austrian Gal looking out the window. Austrian Gal calls to Cockney Gal and asks if “that is [Spanish Gal].” When Cockney Gal appears and asks where, Austrian Gal barely nods toward, you know, the outside. They both agree it isn't, and we see Living Dead Gal walking around in the forested grounds of the estate. She does this very slowly. It's quite a pretty setting, very nice looking. There, I've said something good about the movie.
As she slowly passes a rock, we pan up and see the Monstrosity watching her. The music tells us that mayhem is afoot. Just as the Monstrosity jumps, one of the gals screams “LOOK OUT!” and we hear growling and roaring. Back the window, the women turn away, while yelling “Somebody help her!” and things. In the basement, Doc hears the uproar and pretty much grasps the situ instantly. He seizes a big tube and dashes out of the lab, down the same outdoor steps (all the while we hear some rather grotesque noises as the Monstrosity continues his attack), through the forest and to the scene of the attack (which is hidden behind the aforementioned rock). Doc tells the Monstrosity to “get back, back off!” and things. Then, in an obvious reverse-footage shot, he bends down, checks Living Dead Gal's pulse, and bends back up. (Aside from her hand, she's hidden in some foliage. Just thought I'd point that out. Oh, you did, did you?)
Back to the gals' room. They look on in horror. Cut.
Back to the doc and the Monstrosity. He leads the Monstrosity away, poking at him with the tube (it might be a shotgun?). He turns to look back at Living Dead Gal, and the Monstrosity takes this opportunity to move toward the doc, as if he's going to attack him. Fortunately, the film thought we might have a coronary if we got too much of this “action” stuff so the doc turns away and pokes the Monstrosity to make him stop being all aggressive and such. He pokes at him back out of frame.
Back to the gals' room. They look on in horror. Cut.
Doc chains the Monstrosity up to one of the estate walls. He then goes away, and the Monstrosity moves to follow looking mighty peeved. But the chain keeps him from acting on his peevement.
Cut to Hedy, Gig and Doc (sounds like a jazz trio) having a nice elegant dinner. Hedy is complaining that someone should have locked “them” up (the gals, I speculate).
Gig says that “they're not about to leave the house, after what they've witnessed, they know Hans [the Monstrosity] is out there.” Yeah, he is, but he's chained up. I mean, not to burst your balloon or nothin'... Cockney Gal enters the shot and puts down a tea kettle or gravy boat or some damn thing.
Back in the kitchen, Austrian Gal is standing there in front of a cabinet filled with dishes. “Even if we could get past that creature outside there's still the electric fence,” she says to Cockney Gal. “The phone's dead, we can't get help that way.” Long pause while her eyes widen. “If we could get the CAR--!”
“That's IT!” Cockney Gal practically yells. “Victor [Gig]!”
Cockney Gal looks kind of ruefully superior and says (very cockney) “'e 'loyks' me,” leaving no doubt about the nature of this “liking.”
“If you could get the keys from him--!” Austrian Gal says, and I guess they've got a plan.
Cut to later that night, and Gig is by himself on a small sofa in a den or sitting room or some such, and he's having a few. Cockney Gal opens the door and strides on in. He seems glad to see her and offers her a nightcap. Cockney Gal plays the vamp, kissing him, leading him on, and so forth. All in the interest of escapocity of course. In the middle of everything, Gig goes to the window to check on the Monstrosity; he returns, reports that the Monstrosity is chained, and suggests that he and Cockney Gal go outside. Cockney Gal is agreeable.
To minor key flute music, they walk around in the evening arm in arm. I smell trouble, and sure enough Hedy's light is lit. As he starts necking, she yells out for him. Dutifully, he trots off and Cockney Gal wanders through the gardens, finally sitting down in a gazebo. Animal noises startle her, and she looks up to see Spanish Gal-As-Cat perched atop the gazebo. Spanish Gal growls and makes striking noises, much as a cat will do if there's another cat of the same gender around. Cockney Gal is startled, but doesn't seem to catch on to the whole “cat” thing. Or maybe she thinks this is Spanish that Spanish Gal is speaking? Anyway, she reaches up toward Spanish Gal, all the while Spanish Gal is snarling and batting and such. “Don't you know me?” asks Cockney Gal, finally getting struck in the face. She screams. Spanish Gal hisses with satisfaction. And we're back to the gals' room, where Austrian Gal is flipping pages in a magazine. No, no, it's true! Don't let the excitement get to you, man.
Bored with literature, she looks out the window at the Monstrosity, who has decided to start making noise. Yeah, who could read with all that going on? Austrian Gal crosses to the window and looks out, then looks up to the roof...where Spanish Gal is! I know, they could call the fire department to come get her. There's a pretty ambitious shot from the roof straight down, with Austrian Gal looking up with concern. Austrian Gal says she'll be right up to get Spanish Gal. The music is oboe, clarinet, flute, bassoon with some kind of weird percussion or something that sounds like a dog panting. Austrian Gal dashes down the hall and goes upstairs. Dawn is breaking on the roof as she emerges from the trap door. As she approaches Spanish Gal, Spanish Gal again starts doing the whole “I'm the alpha female” thing cat-owners are all familiar with.
“Anita, let me help you,” says Austrian Gal. Spanish Gal lowers her claws and looks kind of wistful. We hear the Monstrosity down on the ground all making noise (you'll recall, Hans has the brain of a dog, and Spanish Gal is now a cat, I'll draw a picture if I must). After one half-hearted swipe, Spanish Gal turns and leaves the area. Austrian Gal begins to follow. Between Spanish Gal's renewed snarling and the Monstrosity's persistent growling it's becoming quite a barnyard symphony. Austrian Gal is walking along a perilously narrow ledge on the roof, this doesn't look too good.
Another nicely composed shot shows Spanish Gal crouched low on some bit just below the roof, while Austrian Gal is above on the roof reaching down, and in the background we see the chimney and some clouds roiling overhead. Wow, I'm just full of compliments suddenly.
Proving that having the brain of a cat doesn't make one a cat, Spanish Gal slips and falls and emphatically does not land on her feet. Nope, she appears quite dead. The music goes all minor chord to let us know this is sad. Oh Spanish Gal, we hardly knew ye. The family have asked that donations be made to the ASPCA in lieu of flowers.
Down in the basement, to the strains of the Doc's usual shimmery menace music, he, Hedy and Gig are all bent over a sheet-covered form. Doc pulls something vague from out near where the head is, and says, “Astonishingly complex, isn't it? The human eye.” I'll say. It's about the size of (and in the print, vaguely looks like) a baby chick. He tires of it though and puts it back. I bet it was a baby chick, a practical joke played by the Doc's actor on the director, who was supposed to yell “Cut!” but was too cheap to, or didn't notice or didn't know what an eye actually looks like.
Austrian Gal butts in through the door, and comes to a halt upon seeing the sheet. “[Cockney Gal]?” she asks, shocked.
“She's unconscious, but she'll live,” says the Doc. When this doesn't seem to calm Austrian Gal, he repeats himself. “She will live.” He fails to mention that she'll have Baby Chick O Vision, or perhaps he doesn't think this will be cheering news to anyone.
Austrian Gal has that “I've figured out the scheme” look on her. And she says something that tells the others that the jig is up. The only thing is, I can't make out what she says. I've rewound this bit five times and it sounds like, “For Ali The Wolf, she's dead.” Maybe it's “For all in the world, she's dead.” Last try. “While I lead a wolf, she's dead.” “Hardly a word, she's dead.” Did I mention Austrian Gal is from, like Austria? And this movie is cheaply made? Eh?
Anyway, Austrian Gal thinks Cockney Gal is dead, or good as. That's what I get from the muttered truism.
The Doc looks alarmed at this, he dashes out the lab door. No one else seems to care...maybe he left a pie in the kitchen and just remembered.
Hedy tells Austrian Gal that everyone should leave the lab now, she (Austrian Gal) has had a nasty shock, and a lab is no place for someone like that.
Austrian Gal turns to Hedy and says with dripping contempt, “Get out of here. Both of you!” Hate to point it out to you Austrian Gal, but it's Hedy's house and, most likely, lab too. She then whispers that she's staying with Cockney Gal. Hedy and Gig both leave. As slowly as possible of course.
Doc returns. “Who wants pie, fresh from the oven! I was afraid it might have burned.” And even Cockney Gal gets up and they all enjoy pie, and Hedy comes back with ice cream and Gig has a cold six.
Okay, none of that happened. Except Doc returns. Austrian Gal asks him why he doesn't do anything for Cockney Gal. Oh, and now that the angle has changed, I can see that Cockney Gal has huge bandages over both eyes. So what the doc was flapping around earlier was a bandage, and not an eye or a baby chick. I feel kind of silly now, despite the fact that Doc was holding it on his palm as if it was what he was talking about.
“I've done what I can for now. Later, an operation might be possible.” We cut to another angle, and see that it doesn't really look like Cockney Gal on the table. She's not blonde, for one thing.
“I'm preserving the eye,” he goes on. “Let me show you. Come over here,” and he crosses over and pulls a sheet off a fish tank. (Okay, the eye's in a fish tank, so WHAT WAS he showing Hedy and Gig earlier? I'm going back to Baby Chick for my answer.) He flicks a switch and lights in the tank blink on and off, while he explains how he's keeping the cells alive by electrical vibrations, “I keep the same principle in keeping that hand alive.” Austrian Gal seems rather nonplussed by his talk. All this is shown in long shot, with, get this, Austrian Gal's head blocking the view of the tank. Thanks for nothing, Mr. Director, sir.
“[Cockney Gal] is a very lucky girl,” the Doc says. He snaps back to Austrian Gal, who has not reacted at all, and says “You think that ironical?” Again, she doesn't really react, but he offers to explain. He's the only one in the world who can restore Cockney Gal's sight. He then tells us the history of transplant techniques while the camera tracks in on him. He mentions some guy who kept an animal heart alive for years and won the Nobel Prize for this (I think it was the prize for Conversation Starters). “And I, who have so far surpassed his efforts--”
Austrian Gal breaks in to say, surely you're not comparing yourself to Animal Heart guy! “He was humane,” she sneers.
He continues, saying he's fighting to preserve life, but also to improve it. All the while his tracking shot keeps getting closer. Soon, Cockney Gal won't be the only one with a poked-out eye if this keeps up. Anyway his answer is (basically) you're just like all the rest, your ignorance is like those who won't hire me, so I have to put up with all this Hedy stuff so I can get funds for my real work, but I'll show you all, all of you, you'll be sorry you laughed at me, nyah ha ha ha ha...you know the drill.
Cockney Gal wakes up and mentions she can't see. Austrian Gal tries to comfort her, telling her in a low voice that they have to be ready to seize their chance at escapation. Cockney Gal says she remembers now, it was Spanish Gal who did this. She starts yelling about her eye, and the Doc pops up and knocks her out. With an injection, folks. He tells Austrian Gal to leave, so the injection can take effect. He then tells her that he's a doctor and he'll take care of her. Perhaps her stirring words have softened his heart? Yeah, could be, 'cept she didn't have any stirring words. Good guess, though.
Austrian Gal is having none of this, though. Again with a voice dripping in venom, she says she's sure Doc will take good care of her until she's needed. “And then, am I to be the next one...doctor?” I'm sure the Doc cleverly retorted with “You, you take that back, you—you! You GIRL you!” but instead we fade to black.
The next morning, Gig and Hedy are outside at the station wagon, pulling out lots of presents. Yes, yes, that is what's happening, honest. Hedy asks if Gig has ALL the clothes, and Gig says yes. Amazingly, before this scene, we did not, repeat NOT see a shot of Gig driving up the driveway, past the gates, and on up into the house. The director must have been sick that day, I'm betting.
Anyway, Hedy asks also about her “hair appointment” and Gig says “I took care of everything on your list, while you were talking with the lawyer.” He says that the appointment is under Austrian Gal's name. Hedy says she'll want Austrian Gal to model the clothes. Why'd you get them all wrapped, anyway? No, no, no need to answer that, I was talking to myself.
So, now Austrian Gal is going to be the new Hedy, I'm guessing? (Before it was going to be Cockney Gal, but with a busted eye and a baby chick, I guess that bit was scratched.) We get to watch them walk away from the car, and Gig closes the car door with his elbow. Thrills just don't come any better!
Back in the basement, Austrian Gal was watching all that, and she turns to Cockney Gal who now has a different bandage. Austrian Gal says she has to leave, but she's going to try to get them both out of the house tonight. Cockney Gal says to forget about her, she won't go. Austrian Gal says don't talk like that. And, my God, we fade to that night! Which means (I hope) that we got to skip all the clothes-modeling scenes and such. I'm now almost certain the director was really feeling sick that day.
Spoke a bit soon, as we fade from the outside to Austrian Gal modeling an evening gown for Hedy. And the narrator gets back from the restroom. “Mrs. March had not realized her new body had such a satisfactory shape,” he says. As Hedy pokes Austrian Gal in the butt with her cane (really), he goes on: “Perhaps not as spectacular as the English girl, but in excellent taste.” Excellent taste? Huh? You mean shape, Mr. Narrator, sir?
“She couldn't help being amused,” he says, as Hedy flaps her arms. “The stupid girl was not only modeling Mrs. March's future wardrobe, but Mrs. March's future body.” Austrian Gal starts peeling off the gown. Hubba hubba! “So firm, so nicely rounded in places men like.”
Gig pops in, and Austrian Gal hurriedly covers herself with the gown. “You might have knocked when you came in, [Gig],” Hedy admonishes him. Actually, he'd have to knock before he came in, that's how it works, Hedy. Or he could have said something, “Any hot chicks in their slips up here? Cos I'm coming ii-in!”
Anyway, he apologizes and asks that the fashion show not stop on his account.
“Does my aged lock and vah disturb you?” (Well that's what it sounds like, honest.)
Gig reacts as if stung and says that was unkind. Hedy tells him to shut up. I guess she was talking to Austrian Gal, and talking about Gig, referring to him as an “aged lock and vah” because she goes on: “You see, it's hard for a vain, stupid man to realize that he holds no attraction for a lovely young girl.” (All through this, Austrian Gal is looking like I-don't-want-to-be-in-the-middle-of-this-conversation.) “You're not needed now, [Gig]. Close the door quietly when you go out.”
You should see the expression on Gig's face. He looks like he just got sucker-punched, which, come to think of it, he did. Pow, right to the wallet. “I'm not going to be needed at all. That's what you're saying, isn't it? After tomorrow, when--”
Hedy barks out at him before he spills the whole plate of beans. “That's enough! Get out!”
“That's the way it's going to be when what?” Austrian Gal asks. But Gig just turns and leaves.
“Don't ask tiresome questions,” Hedy says. “That'll be enough for tonight. I want us both to get some rest. Try to sleep.”
“But Mrs. March--”
“That's an order! Do as I say!” Austrian Gal tosses the dress away and pulls off the gloves with this little scowl. (Boy, the help you get these days, huh?) And we cut to Gig, down on his couch again, bottle of booze firing away. And then we see Austrian Gal slipping down to some big glass doors. She opens them. So, they weren't locked? Looks like the escape plan is going well!
Oh hell, in the next shot, it turns out these are the doors to Gig's den. I was hoping the doors led outside, and we could shave off a few minutes here and just cut to the escape, but no such luck.
Anyway, Gig's all full of both booze and self-pity. Austrian Gal wants to know what Gig was going to say to Hedy. Gig, apparently addressing Austrian Gal, says, “So that's what you plan to do—get rid of old Victor, once you get all that money. The only thing is, of course, it won't really be you.”
Austrian Gal apparently finds nothing alarming in any of that, perhaps ascribing it to liquor drinks. She implores him again, “Please tell me. Try to make sense.” Boy are you in the wrong movie, kiddo.
“I am telling you,” Gig slurs out. “By tomorrow, you'll be one of the richest women in the world.” He hands her a bit of cloth, saying it's a press release, “it's in the mails now.”
The story is that Austrian Gal has been made heir to Hedy's fortune. Austrian Gal reads it out loud but doesn't understand.
“The next story will be, March Mansion destroyed by fire,” says Gig. Austrian Gal is to be the sole survivor of this fire. “Only it won't be you,” he goes on. “It's a pity, too.” He looks at her. “You're nice the way you are.” Don't tell me Gig is turning into an old softie at this stage of the game! I suppose being deprived of a vast fortune will make you see things in a new light (the light that comes from not having a vast fortune).
“Please don't let it happen,” Austrian Gal asks Gig. “You could help me and Cockney Gal get away.” (No, she doesn't say Cockney Gal but it's been kind of unclear whether Cockney Gal's name is Dee or Bee, and I'm not going to re-wind to find out. Go ahead and say I'm not a worthy chronicler of our culture, I can't hear you.)
Gig says, “You're a rich woman [hey, actually, she is!]--you wouldn't forget an old friend who'd saved your life, would you?” Austrian Gal says no, she would remember such a person.
Galvanized, Gig leaps up and orders Austrian Gal to get to the car and stay there. Austrian Gal says that Cockney Gal has to come along too. As if struck by a thought, Gig runs to a desk and starts writing a note, “just to be sure.” I hope it's a delicious recipe for pastry, and he shares it with us, because by gum I'd like to get something useful out of this movie.
Well, he finishes writing, asks Austrian Gal to sign the paper (while covering it with his hand) and she does so. It's probably some note transferring all the money back to Gig. Geez, Gig, I thought you were turning into a decent sort. Austrian Gal leaves the room.
And rounding the curtain is Hedy! I thought she was going to get some sleep. By the sour look on her face, I imagine she's either been listening or is a good guesser. She walks out of frame.
Back to Gig, he takes a gun out of the drawer and hefts it ominously. (Is there any other way to heft a gun?) We get a nice long close-up of his face, looking like, I'll be glad when you're dead you rascal you. Then we get a close up of Hedy, lifting high a knitting needle (that's my guess), and thrusting forward...back to Gig's close-up, his expression is now of the I've-been-stabbed variety. He falls dead (a bit of blood around his throat) and we get this upside-down close up of his dead face staring. Hedy looks uncomfortable, like she's stepped on a bug. Then she looks triumphant. Wasn't that hard, was it Hedy? I bet the narrator would say that if he was still around.
Cut to Austrian Gal and Cockney Gal in Cockney Gal's recovery room. Cockney Gal is all, no, I'm not going, why should I, blah blah, Austrian Gal says she'll get Gig to help, and they'll carry her (Cockney Gal) to life itself. Hey, I see the flaw in that plan.
But we cut to Austrian Gal going through the den doors anyway, where she finds the dead sprawled-out Gig, and lets out a fairly healthy scream. “Did you want something from Victor, dear?” Hedy's voice comes from the shadows. Hedy orders her to sit down, while from behind comes the Doc.
“You realize she's mad, don't you Doctor Frank?” Austrian Gal asks as the Doc stuffs a cloth over her mouth and she starts to go unconscious. I'd take that as a no.
“Hurry, doctor,” Hedy intones ominously.
“I'll be ready for you shortly, Mrs. March.”
“I'll be waiting.” And we get vibraphone music and the screen goes blurry and then, Austrian Gal wakes up on a sheet covered gurney.
Next to her is Hedy, also on a gurney, but don't worry, the operation hasn't happened yet. “It's finally about to happen,” says Hedy as the Doc approaches her.
Hedy goes on and on about how nobody knows what it's like to be ugly and rich and stuff, and to hate your own ugly rich body, and how no one likes anything about you except your money, and all during this Doc has the most impatient manner ever. “Yes yes yes, fine fine fine, shut up you old bat, damn you anyway,” he ought to say but doesn't.
Hedy continues to go on and on about poor, poor pitiful her. Doc just stands there, with his big hypo. I suppose as she goes under, she might say something stupid, like “Now I won't need you, Doctor, and I'll kill you or ruin you or both, as you'll possess the secret,,” and maybe he'll react to that. Wouldn't put it past her. Wouldn't put it past him. Wouldn't put it past me.
“Why did you kill Victor, Mrs. March?” asks the Doc.
“Victor! Humph! Victor was a fool!” She smacks her lips. Just though I'd note that. “I'm a practical woman, Doctor Frank...a business woman.”
“I've never been a very practical person,” Doc says, the same way you or I might say, “I've never collected comic books.” He goes on: “I suppose that makes me a fool, too, in your eyes.”
“Of course not!” Hedy says with alarm, rising from the gurney, prompting Dr Frank to tell her to relax. He then jabs the needle in her without much finesse at all (she even jumps a bit).
We get more vibraphone music, and we fade in as Doc is holding some...kind of organ or wad of meat or something. He holds it next to Austrian Gal, as if checking the size or style or something. He wiggles it about, and keeps looking at Austrian Gal, at the organ, and then across the room.
We cut to across the room and see something vague in a plastic case. It looks like a dead puppy or an old glove or a clump of seaweed or a really bad wig. None of those is really definitive, though. It just looks vague...damn vague. Doc, apparently looking at this thing, then looks back at the organ, and we cut to more equipment flashing. Can't get enough of equipment flashing, you know. Well, yes, you can, but you know what I mean. Also, dry ice effects, weird Theremin-like noises, bubbling water sounds, and then we cut to Cockney Gal up in her room, writhing as if she senses evil afoot or maybe she ate that quiche anyway even though it looked old.
Well, enough of her! Back to the lab, and Austrian Gal—or is it?--is waking up.
“Waking up, are you?” comes Doc's voice. “Good. I want to talk to you.” Austrian Gal settles back on the pillow, and Doc goes on.
“You signed a paper making Victor your legal guardian. That's right, isn't it?”
“I did sign something, didn't I?”
Doc replies with something incomprehensible, not because it's scientific techno-babble beyond our primitive brains, but because the sound recording goes all muddy. “Which is probably what the waffles be,” is the best I can do. While he says this, the camera tracks back through racks of beakers and such to show this is indeed a laboratory and a scientist would be right at home here.
“We could stay here,” Doc says. “None of this would have to be destroyed. You're doing better, aren't you?”
And we cut to the kitty cat, last seen donating his/her brain to Spanish Gal. Apparently, this is who Doc was addressing with his last remark. “Let's try it on your own,” Doc says, and Kitty cat meows to show that she understands this remark. I don't.
You know, just cos I like you people, I rewound to the point where Doc was looking at organ, Austrian Gal and vague thing in a case...and vague thing in a case is definitely a cat. Yes, you read right, a cat. He had a cat in a plastical case, and now there's a cat alive and meowing. You're probably thinking what I'm thinking, but let's let the movie shove its magic on us.
Doc (who does not know where the microphone is) says “I wonder now if Mrs. March didn't intend burning me up, with all of the rest of this,” while he gazes about his laboratory.
He then turns to Austrian Gal, and explains that Austrian Gal is now a very wealthy woman, that she and her friend (Cockney Gal) are very valuable to him, and he has to keep them both close by. He “could” keep them “under sedation, until your signature is required. Or, I could replace your brain with one more amenable.”
Austrian Gal is coming out of sedation, so that's why she hasn't picked up on the obvious like we all have. She asks, “What about Mrs. March, doctor?”
“Mrs. March no longer has a thing to say,” he says, then looks downward. “Do you, my dear?” He moves to the other gurney and, um, starts rubbing something off camera. “Completely recovered, wouldn't you say? How do you feel?”
And yes, we cut to the cat, who growls and nips the doc a good one. He grimaces and pulls away (but doesn't lose his eyes) probably thinking, no kitty treats tonight, you rotten thing.
Anyway, being clawed by a cat steels his resolve. “I guess a transplant would be better,” he says to Austrian Gal while he starts throwing switches and stuff. “It won't hurt.”
Austrian Gal looks kind of resigned at all this stuff. And I don't mean to send peals of joy through you or anything, but we just passed the hour mark!
“Doctor Frank had enjoyed this transplantation,” says the narrator (hey where were you, man). “Mrs. March's brain winding up in the body of a cat. Poetic justice to think of autocratic Mrs. March, scavenging in back alley garbage cans for her dinner.”
Doc goes into his Naked Chick Chamber, and Austrian Gal takes this opportunity to see if she can wriggle free. Just then, we hear the cat growling.
“But Mrs. March doesn't take things lying down,” the narrator says, and we see the cat perched on top of some controls. There's a click, and apparently—oh, now you disappear you stupid narrator—the cat locked the Doc in his own NCC. (Hey, I wonder if "NCC" in Star Trek stands for Naked Chick Chamber? It's a thought. Remember how randy ole Kirk was.) Doc pops up at the window looking pretty alarmed and all.
Doc looks right at where he would least like the cat to be. And—oh, how FAKE!--there's a shot of the cat's paw pushing a button marked “Danger” and we hear all sorts of electrical crackling and such, intended to let us know that Doc is in for a bit of a hard time. Well, Doc, that's what you get for putting a button marked "Danger" on your stuff. What did you expect it to do except bring on the Danger? As well, I don't care Doc, I've done my time watching this stupid thing, and we're in the home stretch!! YES!!! Doc pounds on the door, Kitty-Cat knocks another lever down (while growling), we see Austrian Gal looking kind of out of it but interested. Back in the NCC, Doc collapses as the shear, um, flashy-ness of the, er, accumulating, uh...well, there's all kinds of crackling sounds, and, um, well, he collapses. Must have been his weak heart. What do you mean, no one mentioned that? I'm sure, uh...
Hey! Cockney Gal's bed gets knocked around, and she wakes up, and, hearing that dangerous crackling noise, decides to slowly make her way to the basement. On the way, a hanging light bothers her, so she takes off her bandage. She has scars on one side of her face that look pretty icky. But then we cut to the lab, and in the NCC there's a skeleton where the Doc used to be! Wow, scary, a skeleton, huh? Whoa! Skeleton! Austrian Gal is still struggling with her bonds and then Cockney Gal comes into the lab. The music is all, wow-this-is-suspenseful-and-exciting.
Cockney Gal stumbles to the gurney and frees Austrian Gal, and so we don't feel left out of the excitement, we see various lab equipment flashing and stuff. Austrian Gal and Cockney Gal run to the door, but Cockney Gal goes back to look at something shiny, and this shiny thing blows up at her! She falls back like she's been all killed and things, and she probably has been, because, um, so Austrian Gal can be the only survivor like it says in the press release that is due to come out soon.
Austrian Gal goes to help Cockney Gal, but just then everything starts falling apart and collapsing and things. So she runs out of there. I bet she is sorry about leaving Cockney Gal though.
Of course, the Monstrosity is still up there (though still chained) so she can't get completely away...because...uh...she'd have to go around where he can reach, and...um... Oh! Shiny lab stuff! Ha ha ha!
The shiny lab stuff blows up, and Austrian Gal runs away, and we see a miniature of the March Mansion burning. So I guess Austrian Gal is the sole survivor?
Well, I guessed wrong. “Mrs. March did not intend to let her money get out of sight,” the narrator pops in again (loser!) as we see the cat walking. “She would follow that girl.” Austrian Gal running through the estate woods, while the estate itself burns. “Some time. Some place. Revenge would come.” And then the house blows up, and the explosion throws Austrian Gal to the ground. We see the house collapsing. Oh man, the lights they shine in sequence on Austrian Gal, to make it look like there's a fire in the distance? Uh, doesn't work. Sorry.
Austrian Gal runs off into the night. And we see Kitty Cat's face. We zoom in, freeze frame, zoom out, hear the cat growling again, then unfreeze and the cat runs out of frame.
And then the credits.
By all that's Holy, it's OVER.
The music was by Gene Kauer. Never heard of him, before or since, but the music was surprisingly good here and there. Special Effects by “Space Age Rentals.” Hey, if you want the best... And of course, “The characters in this story are fictitious” etc. I guessed that bit. Anita (Spanish Gal) was played by Lisa Lang, which isn't Hispanic at all! And Xerxes the cat, played, um, the cat. Erika Peters, Judy Bamber were Austrian Gal and Cockney Gal respectively. And who played Living Dead Girl, and the Monstrosity? Their names are somewhere in History's laundry, ruining those nice white shirts, or maybe making the underpants pink. On the one hand, that's sad, on the other, GREAT GOD ALMIGHTY the MOVIE is OVER!!!
Okay, first and foremost, let's get one thing clear here. There WAS NO Atomic Brain anywhere in this movie. At its very basic, an Atomic Brain should be a computer, more than that, it would be like I described the fictitious Disney movie an eternity ago. NO ATOMIC BRAINS HERE. Yes, the Doc used atomic energy to power his experiments but that is NOT the same thing. I read in Psychotronic that the original title was "Monstrosity" which is certainly a succinct and accurate review, but it doesn't really reflect the film much as the Monstrosity himself is a pretty minor bit. An honest title would be something like "Don't Waste Your Time."
Secondly, this movie stinks on ice. Other than some of the music, I can't honestly think of anything that was good, or interesting, or thought-provoking...it wasn't even funny in a ha-ha-boy-that's-stupid sense. Nor in any other sense. In fact, I think "sense" is a quality that's sore lacking in this cinematic erupting boil.
Still, in order to give you, the reader, the idea that you got something out of this horrid mess, I would like to take this opportunity to say that (for you narration fans out there) that I transcribed every single word that the narrator said! This makes this review a valuable resource for historians and people with an extra large bag of snacks. Still, it's not enough. It's time to render judgment. It's time to slap this thing on the gurney and stick it with a pin.
Thus: This movie is bad. Don't watch it.
September 22, 2004