DVD Review: Creature With The Atom Brain (1955).

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Directed by Edward L. Cahn
Produced by Sam Katzman
Story and Screen Play by Curt Siodmak
Cinematography: Fred Jackman Jr.

Cast: Richard Denning (Dr. Chet Walker), Angela Stevens (Joyce Walker), Lane Chandler (Gen. Saunders), Charles Horvath (Creature), Michael Granger (Frank Buchanan), Gregory Gaye (Dr. Wilhelm Steigg), Pierre Watkin (Mayor Bremer), Tristram Coffin (District Attorney McGraw)

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Creature With The Atom Brain (1955) is a sci-fi/horror picture from Sam Katzman. For some of you, that’s all you need to know. I’ve always found it a lot of cheesy fun, with some genuinely creepy moments.

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An ex-Nazi scientist, Dr. Wilhelm Steigg (Gregory Gaye), has created a gang of radio-controlled zombies — with electrodes in their brains and atomic juice in their veins. Unfortunately, Steigg’s experiments were funded by Frank Buchanan (Michael Granger), a gangster who decides he wants to use the zombies for his own revenge.

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Richard Denning is one of the authorities trying to get to the bottom of the strange killings and kill off the lumbering atomic monsters. (Isn’t he always?) It all climaxes with the atom-brain creatures battling it out with the cops.

Governor (on television): “As Governor, I am declaring a state of emergency. All police facilities have been alerted to prevent any further crimes by so-called atomic creatures.”

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With Creature With The Atom Brain, we get another example of Edward L. Cahn’s solid B-movie work. I don’t think he ever made what would be called a really good movie, but he knew his way around this sort of thing — keeping things moving fast enough to keep you from realizing just how silly it all is. This one goes a step further, thanks to DP Fred Jackman Jr., to include some dark, creepy scenes of the zombies making their way toward their next victim. Cahn worked for Katzman’s unit a lot, and while he didn’t have the touch of Fred F. Sears, another of Katzman’s favorite directors, he made sure fans got plenty of what they came to see.

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The new DVD from Mill Creek Entertainment, billed as a 60th Anniversary Edition, isn’t the picture’s first release. It was part of Columbia’s terrific four-movie Katzman set. This is the same transfer. Sharp as a tack, with superb contrast and clear audio. These movies, dumb as they may be, were made by real pros. Unfortunately, the transfer is full-frame instead of its original 1.85 framing. But it looks so good, and the price is right — so who’s complaining? If you like this kinda thing, I certainly recommend it.

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8 Comments

Filed under 1955, Columbia, DVD/Blu-ray Reviews, Edward L. Cahn, Mill Creek, Sam Katzman

8 responses to “DVD Review: Creature With The Atom Brain (1955).

  1. Kevin

    One of my all time favorite films from the 50’s. Loved your comment about these being made by pros! You are so right.

    Like

    • Thanks for the comment. One of the great things about the DVD/Blu-ray era is that after years of crappy TV prints, we get to see how good these B movies really looked.

      Like

  2. john k

    Guided by your review I got the Mill Creek
    Sci-Fi set and as you noted the quality of the
    black & white films is sensational!
    I do hope Mill Creek continue to mine all the
    gold in the Columbia vaults.
    I am more than intrigued by a 4 film Horror set from Mill
    Creek which includes two films I have never seen-
    FIVE; THE MAN WHO TURNED TO STONE.

    Like

  3. john k

    I’ve just checked on Amazon USA and the
    “Horror Set” is a mere 8 bucks,for four films you
    really cannot go wrong-even though I have two
    of the films.

    Regarding Edward L Cahn his 1932 Western
    LAW AND ORDER is very highly regarded,although
    I have never seen it.
    I certainly prefer his Horror/Sci Fi stuff as opposed
    to his later Westerns. I’d LOVE to see GUNS,GIRLS
    AND GANGSTERS just for the cast alone.
    Is a kino Lorber Blu Ray of that one too much to
    hope for.

    Like

    • Kevin

      John, the Horror set is a must have for 50’s horror fans, and I agree that I would love to see Guns, Girls and Gangsters on BD. I used to have that film on a bootleg and it is a great film to be sure.

      Like

  4. john k

    Thanks Kevin,
    That’s certainly one I am adding to my ever increasing
    shopping list.
    MAN WHO TURNED TO STONE does not have a great
    reputation but Victor Jory makes anything worth watching.

    Kevin,regarding films I have never seen I note that
    Kino-Lorber are going to release DONOVAN’S BRAIN
    on BD. It’s so cool to see these obscure films getting
    the Blu-Ray treatment.

    Like

  5. john k

    Kevin,
    I know I’m in a minority but I LOVE THE BLACK SLEEP.
    I’m very excited about seeing it in high-def widescreen.

    Too bad Peter Lorre’s salary demands were too high-he would
    have been great in that movie.
    Originally it was to have been shot in color-too bad that it
    did not happen.

    I guess most of the $250,000 budget (according to imdb)
    must have gone on the roster of ghouls in the film!

    Like

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