The Brain from Planet Arous

Is there anything more incredible than the human brain?  They say we only use a small fraction of it’s capability…they’re also really creepy.  Of all the gross stuff we have in our bodies, brains just look weird, if you ask me.  So, it makes sense that evil brain monsters would be the subject of at least a few horror movies over the years.  One such creepy classic is 1957’s “The Brain from Planet Arous.”

As the film opens, scientists Steve March (John Agar) and Dan Murphy (Robert Fuller) have been monitoring some strange radioactive activity.  They follow the signals to a mountain cave where they encounter a giant, floating, pulsating brain that calls itself Gor.  They try shooting at the thing, but bullets just pass right through it.  The brain then blasts the two men with an intense beam of light and then moves into Steve’s body.

Several days later, Steve returns from his investigation, but Dan is nowhere to be found.  He explains to his fiancée Sally (Joyce Meadows) and her father (Thomas B Henry), that Dan took off for Las Vegas.  Soon, Sally begins to worry about Steve.  He looks the same, but he has begun acting very strange, not to mention being a lot more sexually aggressive.  Heck, he practically rips Sally’s clothes off one afternoon…yet she sticks with him, though she starts to realize something is wrong.

Sally and her father head up into the mountains to see what might be causing Steve’s strange behavior.  While there, they find Dan’s body…and another brain.  This one, called Vol, is peaceful.  Vol informs them that Gor is using Steve’s body and that he is planning nothing short of world domination.  In order to keep an eye on Steve/Gor,  Sally suggests that Vol inhabit the body of her dog.  Meanwhile, Steve/Gor occupies his time by making passenger planes blow up in mid-air simply by staring at them.

Gor’s plans start to come to fruition when he, through Steve, arranges for them to attend a big nuclear test.  There, they will gather world leaders around them to lay out their demands.  But Sally has a plan of her own to tell Steve how to attach Gor’s vulnerable spot the next time he leaves his body.

I already told you I think brains are kind of creepy, so brain monsters make a perfect B-movie baddie.  But as much as I love these weird brains, John Agar is really the highlight of this movie.  If they gave Oscars for crazy…he’d have gotten one for this.  To say his performance is “over-the-top” is an understatement…but it’s also exactly what this movie needed.  I mean, the brains are cool and all, but they don’t do a whole lot.  Gor is pretty frumpy when he’s just a brain.  But when he’s possessing Steve’s body he’s a sex-crazed madman!  It may very well be one of the greatest performances in a B-monster movie of all time.

Sure, this is a cheese-fest with a monster brain, but the filmmakers do take it in some interesting directions.  The whole sexual angle on the character of Gor is especially intriguing.  The character is a disembodied brain of pure evil, when he ends up inhabiting a body, it awakens new desires in him.  The filmmakers pull no punches in portraying this.  In once scene in particular, Steve (possessed by Gor) begins tearing away at Sally’s clothes.  It’s a pretty brutal scene for 1957.  Even the name of the brain’s planet, “Arous,” sounds awfully close to Eros if you ask me.

Though the story and effects are really silly, John Agar’s performance makes this one a must see.  A classic of 50’s sci-fi!

5 thoughts on “The Brain from Planet Arous

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  1. One of THE all-time great brain movies! You make a good point of the brutality of the scene when Agar tears at his girlfriend’s clothes – even watching today, it can make you cringe.

  2. Great article, and thanks for creating such an interesting site. I’ll have to spend some quality time here. I’m trying to compile a list of road horror flicks, and was wondering if you came across any forgotten ones? Thanks! And keep on truckin’ along cinema’s edge!

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