The Brain Eaters, 1958. Dir. Bruno VeSota. Watched on YouTube so you don’t have to.
It’s a perfect day for a film like The Brain Eaters. I’m so whacked out on cold meds it feels like my brains have not only been eaten but chewed up like bubblegum then stuck under the desk. So I apologise in advance if there’s a slightly feverish quality to the commentary today, and only ask that you keep a little distance and wash your hands thoroughly afterwards.
Before we start, I just wanted to draw your attention to something I found out about the film on Wiki. Apparently the novelist Robert A. Heinlein sued for plagiarism because he thought it followed the plot of his novel The Puppet Masters. He wanted $150,000, but settled out of court for $5,000 instead. He also said he didn’t want a credit because he found the film “wanting”. None of which augurs well.
But in the cause of high adventure and 50s sci-fi, I’m sufficiently okay / all systems ready as I hope you are, too. So snap on those headphones, take another slurp of coffee, and here…we….GO!
00:10 An American high street at night. A shadowy figure limps past a shop. Who is he? Don’t know. Where’d he get the limp? Don’t know. How long’s he been walking? A long time – that’s why he’s limping. Look, can you just stop with all the questions? What do you want – a voiceover?
Voiceover: ‘A few weeks ago, Riverdale, Illinois was just another quiet, small town… then shortly after midnight, a living nightmare began…’
00:20 The limping figure walks right into a guy carrying a glowing globe, smashing it. The guy is furious. He probably only takes his globe out at night to avoid shit like this. He grabs limping figure and slams him against the wall. Whilst he’s roughing him up, the liquid from the globe seeps under the wall, making a spooky hissing noise (the liquid’s doing the spooky hissing, not the wall).
00:50 Title sequence. An abstract, tearing animation pulling left and right to reveal … THE BRAIN EATERS! Actors names over more abstract art – which I suppose IS kind of brain-like, especially if you’ve got a tearing headache. And if you DO, this mad, violin-roughing-up-a-piccolo soundtrack will NOT help.
01:16 An early acting role for Leonard Nimoy. Except spelled differently. (NOTE: Spelled. Not Spelt. Spelt is a kind of flour).
01:42 Favourite name? Tom Jonson. But only because I have a friend called Tom Johnson. Except spelt differently.
01:57 So now we’re into it. A sports car driving along a sunny road. Nice. Eating miles (not brains – YET).
02:07 Voiceover man again. His tone is a little peeved, like they had to lean on him to do it. Voiceover man explains that he was returning from a trip to see his fiance’s family in the country or something. He sounds pretty ticked off. Doesn’t bode well for the wedding.
02:16 ‘Everything was set. We were on our back to town to tell the good news to my father…’
Suddenly there’s a loud explosion (which may or not be his father). They both get out of the car to investigate. The music score here is odd – strangely epic, romantic even. The two of them exchange worried looks beneath the backdrop of a power pylon (which the musical director obviously thinks is romantically charged). Then they walk into the woods to explore some more – the guy holding the girl up like she’s never walked in the woods before. I look up their names: Glenn and Elaine. Just normal, everyday, Riverdale Illinois kinda names.
02:46 They come to a clearing. Dead rabbits scattered about. Glenn kneels down to look more closely at the rabbits. Maybe he’s a vet, I don’t know. Or owns a pet shop. Elaine looks down at him, frightened she’ll fall over now he’s let go. They see a dead dog – who has a very blissed-out expression, I have to say. The score is full-on romantic/tragic, so I’m guessing Tom Jonson likes dogs.
03:12 Glenn straightens up. ‘All of them…DEAD’ he says. I’m not sure what Elaine sees in Glenn, to be honest. I also don’t like the way he has his polo shirt collar on the outside of his sports jacket. WHO DOES THAT, GLENN? WHO?
03:22 They push on further and find a funny looking metal cone thing, like a helter-skelter without the mats. Elaine grabs onto Glenn. ‘What IS it?’ she says. And I don’t know how she resists using the moment to tuck his polo shirt collar into his sports jacket. Glenn doesn’t know what the cone thing is. I’m surprised Elaine even asked.
03:33 Segue from the cone to the White House. ‘48 hours later, a hastily-summoned UFO committee anxiously awaits a top secret screening of army films’. There’s an awkward, official looking guy, standing outside a door smoking erm… awkwardly. Senator Walter K Powers strides in. We’ll call him WKP from now on, because… well…. (checking the time). WKP’s hat and coat are so huge I’m suspicious that WKP is actually three people, the smartest one on top to work the hat.
‘Alright, guys let’s go,’ he barks.
Awkward guy says ‘Lights’, then folds his arms. Awkwardly.
04:08 The film starts, talking about the discovery of the cone. Apparently it’s fifty feet high, with a base diameter of fifty feet. Which sounds more like a cube to me but I’m not a scientist. There are two REAL scientists looking in the window of the cone. One of them has SUCH a weird haircut – but maybe that’s a scientist thing (or possibly a terrible lab accident). I think it’s Dr Paul Kettering, ‘principal scientist for Project Damper.’ Not a great name for a project. Not like The Manhattan Project, which sounds glamorous. No. Project Damper. Why didn’t they go the whole hog and call it Project Damp Squib. Project Whatever. Project Shit.
Anyway – I’m wrong about the haircut. The OTHER scientist is Dr Paul Kettering. His hair is VERY slick, so I’m guessing he’ll feature in the story a lot more than this other loser. (Who I’ve looked up and is actually Dr Wyler).
The voiceover says the cone is resistant to heat, pressure, acid, sneering… ‘Coincidental with the discovery of the cone is the brutal slaying of several of the town’s leading citizens…’ The film shows silent footage of an elderly couple describing what they saw in the sky. They look vague, like Glenn & Elaine in fifty years. ‘One report describes the arrival of a fiery, horse-drawn chariot in the sky…’ (Cut to the old woman waving her hands vaguely again). ‘The origin of the cone remains… unknown.’
An unknown cone. The worst kind.
05:07 Awkward Arms Folded Guy says ‘Lights’ again. He’s worth every cent. But I hope he’s not a messy eater because that suit’s got to go back tomorrow.
WKP joins him on stage. Lights guy stares at him so intently I’m wondering if they’ll kiss.
WKP is exactly the kinda guy you’d want at a party. He’s got such an overbite you could keep him in the kitchen for opening bottles.
WKP says he doesn’t want his hands tied, he wants FACTS. There’s a guy at the side of the room carrying ALL the coats and hats AND a briefcase. ‘Dan!’ barks WKP. Dan wakes up and nods. ‘Call the hotel and tell ‘em to pack our things.’ Dan nods again. It looks like Dan does ALL the work while WKP stands around making barky speeches with his overbite and his bullshit suit. WKP wants to go see the cone firsthand. Maybe his overbite will crack it. Or maybe he’ll just pick Dan up and hit it with him. Dan wouldn’t mind. Anything for a quiet life. It’s either carrying coats for the Senator or working as a gimp on a trawler.
WKP leaves the room promising to poke so many holes in that spaceship the lid’ll be off it in 24 hours. Or something.
06:48 A tiny plane lands in a dusty field. WKP struggles out of it. A guy shakes his hand.
‘Where’s the Mayor?’ says WKP.
‘I’m his son, Glenn Cameron.’
So THAT’S who Glenn is! Pretty connected, Glenn!
‘We’ve had some disturbing developments,’ says Glenn. Some murders, apparently. And the Mayor’s gone missing. (You mean – the Mayor YOUR DAD?). WKP isn’t impressed. ‘Do I have transportation?’ (Otherwise he’ll just get Dan to give him a piggy-back).
They walk back to Glenn’s car. WKP’s sleeves are enormous! I’m surprised he can lift his arms off the floor. He seems to fiddle with his fly as he gets in the car, so I’d have him in the front seat if I was Glenn.
07:45 As they drive through Riverdale, you get a sudden close up of a guy holding a glowing globe. His expression is EXACTLY as you might expect in this situation, which is a hybrid of Sinister Gloating and Otherworldly Knowingness.
08:06 Voiceover guy (who turns out to be Glenn, BTW. You know? Glenn? THE MAYOR’S SON?): ‘Entering the ravine area I had the feeling we were being watched, although there wasn’t a soul around…’
Eight minutes in and I’d have sneaked off early, too.
08:56 Alice, the Mayor’s secretary, is moonlighting as Dr Kettering’s assistant. She explains that Dr Kettering is up on the cone doing sonic experiments. WKP says he’ll go up and join him. Alice doesn’t approve. You can tell because her pearls rattle.
09:13 WKP climbs the scaffolding like an orangutan in a camel hair coat. (Although obviously no orangutan would ever wear a camel hair coat. It already has a lot of hair and would become overheated. But then again this is science fiction. Anyway, at the top of the scaffolding WKP meets Dr Wyler and Dr Kettering. You can tell Dr Kettering is a serious scientist because he smokes a pipe.
‘You must be Senator Powers!’ says Dr Wyler. ‘I’m Doctor Wyler’
‘I can see that,” says WKP, gnomically. (Look it up).
Dr Kettering shouts some figures down to Alice who straightens up and says ‘Check’. Then straightens back down again.
09:40 WKP wants action (he’s not alone). Dr K says they’re doing all they can but the ship is made from indestructible material. I’m confused, though, because a little later he demonstrates the cyclical nature of the ship by firing a pistol through a porthole. I mean … I’m no scientist… but why doesn’t he just CLIMB IN THE GODDAMN PORTHOLE? Or if he’s scared, send in Dan. And by the way – it’s not a great idea to be blindly firing a pistol through a porthole when you’re dealing with aliens. It’s basic common sense, let alone Health & Safety.
‘You science boys tend to get too wrapped up in your test tubes…’ says WKP. ‘The obvious things escape your attention.’
For once I agree with WKP.
Dr K takes off his coat.
‘I suppose now’s as good a time as any,’ he says. Dr Haircut – sorry Wyler – hands him a pistol. Dr K goes into the porthole.
12:30 A long shot of Dr K crawling down a vent. With a torch. Cut to a close-up of the watch on WKP’s wrist. Cut to a shot of Dr K’s shoes as he crawls through the vent. Cut to WKP holding onto a rope looking at the sky; Dan smoking. WKP checking his watch again. Cut to Alice blinking rapidly next to Dr Wyler, whose haircut is actually magnificent in profile. ‘It’s been a while,’ says Alice. ‘Has anything gone wrong?’
‘I don’t know,’ says Dr Wyler. I wonder what Dr Wyler’s a doctor of. I want to see his certificates.
13:13 ‘How long has he been in there?’ says Glenn, about three hours later. Or feels like.
‘Too long!’ says Dr Wyler, strapping on a pistol. (Very awkwardly, it has to be said. I’m surprised he even got it with the handle pointing up. But he’s a scientist, not a gunslinger). Just as he gets to the top of the scaffolding with WKP, Dr K comes crawling back out.
‘Are you alright?’ says WKP
‘A little worse for wear.’
‘What did you find?’
Apparently the tunnels just go round and round, he says.
‘But what’s it for?’
‘I don’t know,’ says Dr K.
(NOTE: If you have an alien spacecraft, and someone goes inside to have a look – do NOT have them come out six hours later saying they didn’t see nuffin’. Talk about Project Damper. More like Project Complete and Utter Bullshit Shall We All Just Go Bowling Instead).
14:09 The phone rings back in the base camp. Alice answers it.
‘Hello?’ she says. Unsurprisingly.
‘Hold the line,’ she says. ‘Glenn – it’s the Sheriff.’
(Why couldn’t Glenn have answered the phone? It would’ve sped things up. I mean – talk about Brain Eaters…)
‘The Mayor’s back!’ says Glenn. (I thought the Mayor was his Dad? In which case, their relationship is strangely formal).
14:22 Cut to: The Mayor, sitting at his desk, his hands shaking. Maybe it’s budget day. He struggles to open a drawer. Takes out a gun. Looks like he wants to shoot himself (same) but his left hand is having none of it. Wrestles with himself – but then puts the gun away just as a cop, Elaine, Alice, Dr K, Glenn, WKP and a orangutan in a camel hair coat all shuffle into the room. (Honestly? The room’s not big enough).
The Mayor suddenly acts snippy.
‘You don’t look well,’ says Glenn.
Dr K notices a lump rising and falling in the Mayor’s back – just before he shouts at them all to get out. When they don’t but close the door instead, the Mayor grabs his gun out and threatens to shoot them. Understandably. Glenn asks his dad nicely for the gun, but – again – it doesn’t say much for their relationship – the Mayor just hits him with it.
There’s a struggle. Shots fired. The Mayor staggers out of the room. Another cop in the hallway shoots him twice. In the legs. Which kills him, dead.
‘What’s that on his neck?’ says Glenn, getting over the death of the Mayor – his father – pretty quick.
17:57 In the autopsy room. Dr K is in white pyjamas, for some reason. It’s not that late.
You don’t get a look yourself, but you can tell from the way Dr K fiddles with his napkin or whatever it is that the thing on the Mayor’s neck is pretty disgusting.
Eventually he joins the others who are waiting in another room.
‘What did you find out?’ says Elaine. Or Alice. I’m confused between them. I think the pearls are supposed to help, though.
Dr K lights his pipe. He has to smoke something before he says anything smart.
The doctor comes in. He says they shouldn’t feel bad about shooting the Mayor because he would’ve died anyway. He had a thing on his back that was plugged into his central nervous system and also secreted acid when it was attacked. So either way, not great.
Dr K asks everyone to keep this secret, as it might cause panic (and a loss of faith in the office of Mayor).
20:07 Cut to: the cop walking outside. He seems shifty. Maybe he’s got a plug-in alien controlling him, maybe not. It’s hard to tell with cops at the best of times.
He gets on the radio.
‘If anyone wants me I’ll be out at the cone.’
20:39 The cop pulls up sharply. There’s a body in the road. When he gets out to investigate, the body kicks him in the head. They fight. Another figure appears. A figure with a glowing globe. The cop gets KO’d. They kneel down next to him and do something diabolical with the globe (we don’t see what – we keep cutting back to the flashing light on the police car). Eventually the cop stands up. He’s now one of them. They all get in the car and drive off. The cop now guilty of a D.U.I.G (Driving Under the Influence of Globe).
22:26 Back at the lab, Alice is making coffee the only way she knows how – with a bunsen burner. Dr K is dissecting something gloopy on the desk, which may or may not be dessert. Dr K says that Alice should get some rest as her hands are icy. They look as if they’re about to kiss, but then he puts his pipe in his mouth so it’s just as well they don’t. Meanwhile, a bit of the gloop starts crawling across the desk towards them, maybe attracted by the tobacco smoke, not sure. It attaches itself to Dr K’s arm like a leech. Alice – ever practical – hits it with her clipboard but even though it’s a heavy clipboard with a big metal clasp it proves ineffective. Dr K grabs the bunsen burner and burns it off instead. Alice comforts him – until the phone rings and she has to answer it.
She hands the phone to Dr K.
‘Kettering?’ says Wyler. ‘Wyler. I’ve got an idea about this cone out here…’
24:50 The team assembles to drive out to the cone. They discover the roadblock gone and no-one on duty. An abandoned utility truck.
Dr K shouts ‘Hello…?’
(Hey! That’s ALICE’S line!)
26:22 At the cone, Dr Wyler tells them his idea. It’s a long and worryingly halting kinda speech, like he practised it a little too much and lost sight of the meaning. But any-hoo, basically what he’s saying is that he thinks the cone is a discarded fuel section and the most important part is probably still floating around in space. (Like his understanding of the script. Or mine, to be fair).
‘Some of this is fact,’ says Dr K, ‘some of it scientific hunches.’
‘Don’t pull any punches,’ says WKP.
What is this – a rap contest?
Dr K thinks that the parasites are looking for human hosts. WKP says he’ll call the sheriff’s office and set up a search party so they can find the nest. That’s why WKP is a senator. He quickly gets the gist and learns the lingo. That and his overbite.
28:03 The phone rings in the sheriff’s office. Trouble is, the person manning it is the cop who got globed (and not Alice, who’d answer RIGHT away). The cop doesn’t look too happy. In fact, when the camera draws back you can see he’s got a globe of his own on the desk. It’s even wearing his hat. There’s a close-up on the cop’s face as he struggles to regain control of himself – marvellous acting here, worthy of a golden globe – oops, sorry. Too soon?
We spend so long on a close-up of the cop’s face, I can’t help admiring his eyebrows, which are lustrously thick and neatly trimmed. Good job!
29:13 WKP says he’ll call in the militia instead. On manoeuvres, so no-one’ll get excited. (No risk of THAT).
‘You’re not going to start a search now…?’ says Dr Wyler.
‘Why not?’ says WKP.
‘Well – perhaps you’re right,’ says Dr Wyler.
And with that the great, psycho drama surges on.
‘First of all we need to get the girls back into town,’ says Glenn.
Alice and Elaine protest. If they don’t come along and the phone rings, who’ll answer it? The cop?
They reluctantly agree to let the girls come, then stand around a map while Glenn divides them up into search parties. Dr Wyler is in the centre of the shot, nodding along – but you can tell he doesn’t understand.
30:25 Alice and Dr K are driving along the road.
‘What if we should come across the other part of the ship?’ says Alice.
‘No funny business,’ says Dr K, chewing his pipe. The two hands on the wheel don’t look like HIS hands, but maybe I’m reading too much into this.
30:42 Meanwhile, in the other car, you’ve got WKP, Dr Wyler and Dan.
‘I think we should have held off this search,’ says Dr Wyler. He thinks if they find the other part of the ship they won’t be able to do anything about it. Which is defeatist, but probably true.
‘You don’t talk very much,’ says Dr Wyler about Dan. Which is also true.
‘That’s why he’s my assistant,’ says WKP. ‘Now – you take parrots…’ But mercifully we’re spared the rest of WKP’s speech because we cut to an exterior shot of the car driving down the road. Quite why Dan doesn’t deliberately drive OFF the road at this point is anyone’s guess.
31:09 Glenn and Elaine are in another car. Not chatting. Generally looking anxious. Glenn with a plaster on his face where his father, the Mayor, hit him with a pistol before getting shot to death in the legs. No wonder they’re quiet.
31:16 Cut to: Dr K and Alice exploring some undergrowth. Alice screams because there’s a body on the ground. Whilst Dr K kneels down next to it checking his pockets, another crawly thing sneaks outta the dead guy’s pants (there’s no easy way of saying that) and heads towards the doctor. The crawly thing is even worse, because it’s got two pipe cleaners sticking out the top, which are obviously designed to plug into your brain and make you snippy.
‘Power company man!’ says Dr K, finding a wallet. ‘And – hey! Twenty bucks!’ (Not really – I added that). When he pulls back the guy’s overalls he sees the tell-tale alien plug-in point at the back of the neck. They both hear a hissing noise, and decide to scram.
32:35 Glenn and Elaine are also exploring the shrubs. Glenn’s torch is smaller than Dr K’s. Just saying. These things might matter to you. (Not to me).
Glenn sees a house, so of course he pulls out his pistol. (Quite a big pistol, come to mention it. Makes up for the torch.)
They go into the house. The door closes behind them. Elaine shrieks. If I was prowling around at night I wouldn’t want to do it with Elaine. I mean – a door, for God’s sake.
But then it transpires the door’s locked! And there’s hissing!
Elaine shrieks again. There’s somebody out there!
Honestly – you’d be better off taking a goose along. At least there’d be the chance of an egg.
Glenn shoots the door.
Smoke rises outside the window.
Glenn struggles to put something in his pocket. (I know how that sounds – but I’m just transcribing. God knows how that was described in the actual script).
A guy looks through the window. Glenn shoots him.
Looks out the window and sees two guys walking away.
So he obviously missed their legs.
They climb out the window.
So all-in-all a VERY tense scene that makes absolutely NO sense whatsoever. But then – I’m not from Riverdale, Illinois.
34:23 They’ve all reconvened back at the Mayor’s office.
‘Well – we’ve all had an object lesson in how NOT to conduct a search,’ says Dr K.
Or shoot a film, I might add.
Alice finds some big glass globes in a filing cabinet.
‘Don’t touch ‘em!’ shouts Dr K. Then immediately goes over and touches ‘em.
Dr K reckons the globes are how the parasites get about. Either that or Escooters.
‘I’ll send a wire,’ says WKP. The others gather round him for about an hour as he works the phone. Please God someone speak. Where’s Elaine? Can’t she scream?
WKP gives his message to a telegraph operator who’s either controlled by aliens or high. Possibly both. I have zero confidence THAT message ever gets sent.
36:30 Close up on the operator’s face as he telegraphs: ‘Everything peaceful here…’
So – he’s plugged-in, too. (Although quite a bit more plugged-out).
37:04 Meanwhile, there’s some blank-faced cop in another office. Some other guy’s shadow appears. The cop follows it with a blank expression. Honestly – I don’t know who’s more doped out at this point, me or the telegraph operator.
37:16 The cop and two other guys take a globe over to an apartment building. (sorry I can’t be more specific). They climb up the outside – just like Deliveroo. DeliverGlobe.
38:13 Alice is asleep in bed, wearing so much makeup she must leave a perfect print of her face on the pillow when she rolls over. Luckily for the outer space guys the window is partially open, so they grab out the parasite and shove it through the gap. The parasite at this point looks exactly like the gunk you clear out of a shower plughole. And if the alien was here I’d say it to its face (or where its face might be, approximately).
38:49 So now of course we get a lot of hissing as the camera goes down to carpet level and starts edging towards the bed. Although I’d pay a lot to hear the original recording, because I’d bet the camera operator was saying a lot more than just hissin at this point.
39:16 Alice rolls over just as the gloopy parasite is about to gloop on her icy hand. So then it starts crawling over the duvet towards her icy shoulder. The next thing you know, her bed’s empty and the three guys downstairs are heading back to their car. Then Alice appears at the apartment door. In her negligee.
She gets in the car and they all drive off.
40:26 Dr K and Glenn break into Alice’s apartment. (How did they know she was in trouble? She didn’t PHONE).
They see the empty bed.
‘If they’ve got her, at least she’s still alive!’ says Glenn – who seems to have forgotten the little speech about how his dad, the Mayor, was technically dead anyway because – you know – the pipe cleaners and the acid and everything – so it was really okay to shoot him to death in the legs.
They decide to go back to the cone.
41:15 Everyone’s back at the cone. (Except Alice).
They’re gathered around an old man lying on the ground. The voiceover explains this is Dr Helsingham – a scientist who vanished five years ago.
Dr K rolls the guy over (quite roughly, I have to say). Yes. The plug-in marks on the back of the neck. A tattoo saying 13 amp.
‘Will he live?’ says Glenn.
‘No,’ says Dr K – ‘but he will as long as science can make him.’
‘Won’t he go out of his mind?’ says Glenn.
‘Yes. We’ll have to tie him up,’ says Dr K.
(I HAVE met doctors like this, by the way).
‘Was he in the cone to begin with? Or did he go INTO the cone?’ says Glenn. I’m changing my mind about Glenn. He’s always there with the sharp question.
They help the old guy up and tie him up at the same time – which isn’t easy.
42:50 Dr K goes over to smoke his pipe in the face of the blank faced cop, not noticing that the cop’s back pulsates as they chat. Maybe Dr K is used to that. Anyway – the key message here is that no-one notices when cops behave strangely because, well…
43:10 At the hospital. Dr K, WKP and Glenn interrogate the poor old man.
‘You are Professor Helsingham… !’ says Dr K. ‘What is the secret of the cone…?’
‘Carboniferous!’ says the Prof.
Whilst Dr K explains to the others what the carboniferous age was, Professor Helsingham dies.
Dr K puts on his stethoscope. (Not the Professor’s stethoscope; Dr K has his own).
‘Then it’s not a spaceship,’ says WKP. ‘IT’S FROM BELOW.’
45:13 Back at the Mayor’s office, WKP tries to put a call through to the capital. The operator can’t do it because the line’s are busy and anyway she’s completely wasted.
‘Well keep trying!’ snaps WKP.
The operator says she will – but seems to have trouble pulling the plugs in and out, so I don’t hold much hope.
But then you notice that her back is pulsating in and out, so the aliens have taken over the switchboard, too. Which is mostly how it feels when you ring switch, in my experience.
46:16 Dr K and Glenn drive over to the telegraph office to see if the message to the governor ever got sent. When they knock on the door, the telegrapher and some other guy come out and there’s a fight. Then they jump back in the car and drive away.
So that’s a no, then.
47:14 Meanwhile, WKP is in a radio studio ready to make some kind of public broadcast – which WKP was BORN to do, given his overbite. Dan sits affectionately on the desk next to him.
‘This is Walter K Powers in Riverdale. This message is directed to anyone outside the Riverdale area who can hear my voice… ‘
But we can see the producer’s back pumping in and out, so I’m not holding out for a big ratings success for THIS particular show.
47:52 Back at the cone, Dr K points up at it with his pipe and says he’ll go up and check on his recording device to see if anything’s been in or out. Dr Wyler looks completely bewildered. He probably thought he was supposed to be in a western, or something.
Dr K speaks to two cops who were guarding the cone. They say no-one’s been near it – but I don’t trust them (aliens or otherwise). Dr K puts his (lit) pipe in his pocket and starts climbing the scaffolding.
At the top of the scaffolding Dr K puts on his headphones and listens to some farty sounds. Meanwhile, the cops climb up, too. Dr K knows something’s up. He swings back down and shouts out a warning to the others. The cops start shooting down at them. Dr K caps one straight in the legs and he falls off the scaffolding. The other one falls, too – then runs at Dr K making a horrible snarling noise – although if I’d just fallen off some scaffolding I doubt I’d sound any better. Dr K shoots him in the legs to put him and us out of our misery.
‘We’re going inside the cone! Right now!’ says Dr K.
50:11 Close up on Dr K, crawling through the vent again. Followed by Glenn. (Dr Wyler and Elaine wait outside).
50:52 It’s very foggy inside the cone. Maybe it’s the lit pipe in Dr K’s pocket. Either way it saved the set designer a lot of effort.
There’s a figure sitting on a throne (awks).
‘Come in, gentlemen!’ says the figure. ‘You may stop there!’
(Quite why Dr K missed this particular room when he was LAST in the cone is anyone’s guess).
‘You’re Professor Cool!’ says Dr K.
(Professor Cool sounds really cool. Just sayin’.)
‘I WAS Professor Cool,’ says Professor Cool. In a very cool way. ‘Now I hold a position of a much higher order….’
Whilst Professor Cool is talking, I’d just like to point out this is, in fact, LEONARD NIMOY! Yay! Lovely to hear his voice – even though he’s playing the villain in this big ol’ pile of cone crap.
‘… There is no conflict of purpose here as there is among mankind… ‘ Prof Cool goes on. And on. ‘We will not engage in combat yaddah yaddah’.
There’s a fundamental difference of opinion between the two sides: Prof Cool thinks his kind are like seeds in the wind; Dr K thinks they’re a disease. It’s not going to end well, especially given Dr K’s track record with shooting things in the legs with a pistol.
Professor Cool still blathers on about their mission. He’s in a cloak and has a big beard. There’s a ton of fog about so you don’t see much more. ‘…It will take time….’ he says. Well if it takes half as long as this speech that’ll be about a hundred years, then.
Dr K pulls out his pistol, feeling leggy. Shots fired.
‘The leeches!’ cries Glenn as the pipe-cleaner parasites come hissing across the foggy floor (and how poetic THAT sounds).
53:50 The group all gather again at the top of the ravine, hugging trees as they stare down at the cone. Dr K asks Glenn to go and fetch the utility truck back on the highway.
Dr K has a plan. There’s a bullshit, harpoon-type gun in the truck. He’s going to fire a cable at the cone, then light it up with electricity off the pylon we’ve seen a fair bit of through this movie. Or something.
57:27 Dr K pauses. Alice is standing on top of the scaffolding. In her negligee. So Dr K gives the harpoon type gun to Glenn, and hurries down the ravine to rescue her, parasites or not.
He climbs up the scaffolding, promising he’ll spend the rest of his life trying to cure her of the parasite.
‘Never!’ she says, backing away. Then shoots him. They wrestle. She dies in his arms (presumably because his masculine charm shorted-out the parasite’s pipe-cleaners).
‘Fire the gun!’ shouts Dr K. ‘FIRE THE GUN!’
Glenn is reluctant, but when WKP tries to take control he changes his mind and fires.
There’s electricity ALL OVER the cone!
Dr K rolls off the scaffolding, dead.
Inside the cone, you can see the parasites don’t like all this electricity. They start curling up in a microwave meal kinda way. It’s all pretty intense.
‘Nothing could’ve lived through that!’ says WKP.
But still they go into the cone to make sure.
WKP says he’ll take care of all the infected people in town. ‘Just watch my dust’ he says.
They all go except Glenn and Elaine, who hug at the foot of the scaffolding, and then stroll towards the camera, Glenn’s pistol wobbling naughtily on his belt as the orchestra and everything else swells
So – what’ve we learned?
- Nimoy is spelled with an i not an e. And spelled is spelled with an -elled.
- Never put an indestructible alien cone in the microwave, kids
- And never trust a cop – especially when their back moves in and out
- Just because you’re called Professor Cool, doesn’t mean you ARE cool. (Although he was played by Leonard Nimoy, so in this case…)
- Riverdale? Nah! Too quiet.
2 thoughts on “The Brain Eaters”
Yep, still confused by Elaine/Alice. Initially I thought there was only one and wondered how she was everywhere.
I see a couple more possibilities in Nimoy’s long ago movie list.
Final thought: how desperate were they for entertainment that people paid to see these in the theatre?
Maybe the Elaine/Alice thing was a money saving move – they only had to shell out for one set of pearls…
Yeah – glad I didn’t pay to see it. I’d be tempted to say ‘weeeell – it WAS 1958….’ except Vertigo was released the same year!!