Creature with the Atom Brain

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(4/10) Cult director Edward Cahn’s comeback film from 1955 has sci-fi favourite Richard Denning tracking nuclear-powered zombies. Screenwriter Curt Siodmak is back at his favourite subject – brains – but it’s not his best script. An exploitation cheapo with major studio backing, this was a gore-fest in the fifties. Today it seems flawed, but still entertaining and competent.

BRAAAAINS!

BRAAAAINS!

Creature with the Atom Brain (1955, USA). Directed by Edward L. Cahn. Written by Curt Siodmak. Starring: Richard Denning, Angela Stevens, S. John Launer, Michael Granger, Gregory Gaye, Linda Bennett. Produced by Sam Katzman for Clover Productions.
IMDb rating: 5.4/10. Tomatometer: N/A. Metascore: N/A.

Poster.

Poster.

”In a sense, this film’s title sums up the appeal of the science fiction/monster movies of the 1950s. It’s lurid, it’s to the point, and it deals with (a) monsters, (b) atomic radiation and (c) intelligence, all within a single exploitable phrase. Creature with the Atom Brain. Run that around your tongue for a while, and imagine yourself a 12-year old”. Thus writes Bill Warren in his fifties’ sci-fi bible Keep Watching the Skies about the film that this review concerns, a cheap exploitation affair from Sam Katzman’s Clover Productions, a subsidiary of mid-level studio Columbia Pictures. And for once, the title actually lives up to the film. Nay, it undersells the film – it should be in plural: CreatureS with Atom Brains!

Creature with the Atom Brain was produced by Katzman himself as the bottom half of a science fiction double feature (I have waited almost three years to get to write that phrase!), alongside Charles Schneer’s and Ray Harryhausen’s giant octopus film It Came from Beneath the Sea, which I reviewed just a few days back. It was written by Curt Siodmak, probably as a commission, and directed by Edward L. Cahn, an industry veteran known for his ability to shoot films fast but competently. In fact, this was his first brush with sci-fi, unless you count a short Our Gang effort from 1940, which involved a robot, but it certainly wouldn’t be his last. Continue reading

Sky Racket

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(1/10) In a nutshell: This non-western 1937 remake of the 1936 sci-fi death ray western Ghost Patrol is written and produced by legendary B-producer Sam Katzman, who succeeds in taking a film on my list of awful movies, and remaking it into another film that goes on the same list. Oscar-winner Hattie McDaniel is the only good thing in this horrible affair.

Sky Racket. 1937, USA. Directed by Sam Katzman. Written by Basil Dickey. Starring: Herman Brix/Bruce Bennett, Joan Barclay, Duncan Renaldo, Hattie McDaniel, Henry Roquemore, Monte Blue.  Produced by Sam Katzman for Victory Pictures. IMDb score: 4.4

This is the only decent picture of the film I can find online.

This is the only decent picture of the film I can find online.

When someone saw the abysmal 1936 sci-fi aviation western film Ghost Patrol (review), it is no miracle they thought it could use some improvement. Unfortunately the remake Sky Racket (1937) fares no better, even though the western setting is removed. Indeed, the film is more interesting for the fact of who were involved than as a film. Continue reading