The Brain from Planet Arous appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 and of 1.33:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. I don’t know why this release bothered with the 1.33:1 version, though it does expose the full frame and show more information than the 1.85:1 edition.
If that rocks your world, enjoy it. I stayed with the 1.85:1 presentation for this review, based on the assumption – potentially erroneous - that the filmmakers intended the movie to play that way.
In any case, Brain offered passable but erratic visuals. That said, sharpness usually worked fine, as the majority of the movie displayed appealing accuracy. Occasional soft spots emerged but these remained reasonably infrequent – outside of intentionally blurry images related to Gor’s psychokinetic abilities.
No issues with jagged edges or moiré effects appeared, and I saw no edge haloes. The film’s moderately heavy layer of grain implied no overuse of noise reduction.
Print flaws became the main concern here, particularly in the form of vertical lines. Other issues remained infrequent, and the lines didn’t impact all parts of the movie.
Still, those defects became a distraction. I also saw a couple instances of missing frames.
Blacks seemed fairly deep and dense, while shadows offered reasonable clarity. Overall, this remained a watchable image, albeit one that suffered from a mix of problems.
Don’t expect much from the film’s DTS-HD MA monaural soundtrack, as it felt like a lackluster effort, even for its era. Speech was intelligible but somewhat brittle and rough.
Music lacked much range and could seem shrill. Effects appeared adequate but without much range, and they suffered from a little distortion at times. This worked as a decent track given its age but not a good one.
A few extras flesh out the disc, and we find an audio commentary from film historian Tom Weaver, though it includes guests along the way. Weaver presents a running, screen-specific look at the film that occasionally branches for notes from historians David Schecter and Larry Blamire, financier Gil Perkins, producer Jacques Marquette, and actors John Agar and Joyce Meadows.
We get the usual overview of the production, as we learn about cast/crew, genre areas, and aspects of the shoot/release. Weaver moves things along well and this becomes an informative and engaging track.
We can watch the film with or without an introduction from actor Joyce Meadows. In this 11-minute, 40-second reel, the actor visits the movie’s locations and gives us some basics about her experiences.
The intro partly feels like a promo piece and it also gets into some general fluff/attempted comedy along with a handful of facts. Don’t expect much from this reel.
Two featurettes in the same vein follow: The Man Before the Brain (11:42) and The Man Behind the Brain (13:52). In “Before”, we hear from film historian Justin Humphreys, whereas “Behind” features film historian C. Courtney Joyner.
Both look at the life and career of director Nathan Juran, who led Arous as “Nathan Hertz”. Some overlap occurs between them, but each offers enough unique material to merit your time.
The package concludes with a booklet that mixes photos and an essay from Tom Weaver. It completes the set well.
As a piece of 1950s sci-fi schlock, The Brain from Planet Arous shows potential that gets undercut by its low budget. While the movie comes with some interesting scenes, its cheapness makes it silly and tacky. The Blu-ray offers erratic picture and audio along with a mix of bonus materials. I’ve seen worse flicks of this sort, but Arous nonetheless becomes a forgettable adventure.