CREATURE WITH THE ATOM BRAIN (director: Edward L. Cahn; screenwriter: story by Curt Siodmak/Curt Siodmak; cinematographer: Fred Jackman; editor: Aaron Stell; music: Mischa Bakaleinikoff; cast: Richard Denning (Dr. Chet Walker), Angela Stevens (Joyce Walker), S. John Launer (Capt. Dave Harris), Michael Granger (Frank Buchanan), Gregory Gage (Professor Steigg), Nelson Leigh (Dr. Kenneth Norton). Tristram Coffin (District Attorney MacGraw), Linda Bennett (Penny Walker), Edward Coch (Jason Franchot), Don C. Harvey (Lester Banning), Paul Hoffman (Dunn), Lane Chandler (Gen. Saunders), Karl Davis (Willard Pierce, zombie ex-con), Charles Evans (Police Chief), Pierre Watkin (Mayor); Runtime: 70; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Sam Katzman; Sony Pictures Home Entertainment; 1955)
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
Enjoyable hokum directed as a low-budget horror flick, with both intentional and unintentional comical moments, by king of schlock filmmaker maven Edward L. Cahn (“Law and Order”/”Confidential”/”Dragstrip Girl”). It pits a know-it-all chief medical examiner for the police, Dr. Walker (Richard Denning), against a mean-spirited revenge-minded gangster, Frank Buchanan (Michael Granger), pissed that he was deported to Italy after his arrest and has vowed to get even with those responsible. The gangster teams with an ex-Nazi madman scientist, Professor Steigg (George Gaye), financially assisted by the gangster to continue his macabre experiments that raise the dead by electrodes implanted in their brains to be programmed by voice to kill the gangster’s enemies.
The ‘not as bad as you might have thought’ preposterous story and screenplay is by Curt Siodmak.
Pic opens with mob boss Hennessy brutally killed by a zombie creature with super-strength, who leaves behind a Dictaphone recording saying the vic was killed for revenge. Also luminous fingerprints and radioactive blood samples are found at the crime scene that are traced by investigating homicide detective, Captain Harris (S. John Launer), to an ex-con (Karl Davis) who had a tubercular condition and died recently. The captain is puzzled by the mysterious death but feels he has no choice but to believe his trusted colleague Dr. Walker’s wild-eyed theory about the recent report of stolen bodies from the city morgue being used in the murder. When the next vic is DA MacGraw (Tristram Coffin), who ten years ago got the cooperation from Hennessy to convict Buchanan and is murdered in the same brutal manner by another stolen morgue dead man, the beleaguered lawmen believe they have a crisis and contact the mayor (Pierre Watkin) and elicit the help of a military general (Lane Chandler) to trace the location of the lab emitting the radioactive radium. Meanwhile four other vics are done in by the zombies, with three being further paybacks from the crazed mobster. The other killing is of a police officer interfering with their killing spree. The climax has a neat fight between the almost invincible zombies and the combined forces of police and army, before Walker shows off he’s not only brainy but brawny as he takes down the gangster and then returns to his suburban home to play with his cute playful doll-toting 8-year-old daughter Penny (Linda Bennett) and his playful inviting wife (Angela Stevens).
REVIEWED ON 10/1/2013 GRADE: B-
Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”
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