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Nathan Hertz
John Agar, Joyce Meadows, Robert Fuller
Writing Credits:
Ray Buffum

An evil alien brain from the planet Arous hijacks the body of an Earth scientist in order to control the Earth.

Rated NR.

Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
English DTS-HD MA Monaural
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 70 min.
Price: $24.95
Release Date: 6/21/2022

• Audio Commentary with Film Historian Tom Weaver
• Introduction from Actor Joyce Meadows
• “The Man Before the Brain” Featurette
• “The Man Behind the Brain” Featurette
• Booklet


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The Brain from Planet Arous [Blu-Ray] (1957)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (August 15, 2022)

Does any era’s sci-fi equal the cheese from the 1950s? Probably not, and for a ripe slice of fromage, we head to 1957’s The Brain from Planet Arous.

Scientists Steve March (John Agar) and Dan Murphy (Robert Fuller) investigate mysterious radioactivity in a remote desert domain called “Mystery Mountain”. There they encounter Gor, a devious brain who came to Earth from the planet Arous.

Gor uses his diabolical skills to occupy Steve’s body, which he utilizes as a vehicle for his attempts at world domination. To combat Gor’s evil plans, another alien called Vol works with Steve’s fiancée Sally (Joyce Meadows) to save the day.

I won’t reveal the vehicle for global salvation, as it might turn into a spoiler. However, one should assume it becomes an absurd plot twist.

By that I mean it seems ridiculous even for a movie about an intergalactic floating brain that seeks to take over the Earth. It feels difficult for a film with such a goofy concept to go over the top, but somehow Brain manages that “accomplishment”.

Despite the silliness baked into the movie, Brain actually comes with some admirable ambitions. It attempts something beyond the usual sci-fi monster mush and brings a plot that could’ve turned into a potentially memorable experience.

However, to succeed the filmmakers needed money – more than the $3.57 Brain apparently cost, that is. While obviously not the only movie to suffer from insufficient funds, this still turns into a substantial problem here.

As one expects, the bargain basement effects cause some of the harm, though not as much as anticipated. Sure, these elements tend to look questionable at best, but they don’t deliver the film’s biggest weakness.

Instead, it’s the flick’s attempts to compensate for the low budget that create issues. Likely due to the sparse funds available, Brain offers a tremendously chatty affair.

Film might be a visual medium, but no one told those behind Brain. We get stuck with scene after scene that talks talks talks talks talks.

Given the movie’s ostensible existence as a sci-fi horror tale, the absence of much real action becomes a major issue. Too much of the movie revolves around dull, redundant conversations that the final product turns into a snoozer.

The actors can’t find a way to redeem the material, and Agar seems especially problematic. That said, I don’t know if Marlon Brando at his peak could’ve imbued the silliness with any sense of drama or reality.

Not quite outrageous enough to provide actual entertainment, Brain wastes moderate potential. A dull affair afflicted with far more dialogue than it needs, the movie bores much of the time.

The Disc Grades: Picture C-/ Audio C-/ Bonus B-

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.

Viewer Film Ratings: 2 Stars Number of Votes: 1
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