Creature With the Atom Brain appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. This was an erratic but mostly satisfactory presentation.
For the most part, sharpness worked fine. Occasional soft spots occurred, some caused by optical shots or artificial zooms, but the movie generally offered appealing delineation.
No issues with jagged edges or moiré effects materialized, and I saw no edge haloes. The movie looked pretty grainy, but print flaws remained minor, as small scratches popped up infrequently.
Blacks felt deep and dense, while shadows felt well-rendered. Aspects of the image betrayed the movie’s age and low-budget origins, but it still seemed good most of the time.
Given the aforementioned age and monetary restrictions of Brain, I didn’t expect much from the film’s LPCM monaural audio, but the mix proved surprisingly robust. Not that the mix would compare with modern efforts, of course, but the track seemed pretty peppy.
Speech came across as reasonably natural, and the lines lacked edginess or other issues. Music displayed fairly nice range and clarity.
Effects also showed good breadth and displayed only minor instances of distortion. This was a solid soundtrack for an older flick.
As we shift to extras, we start with an audio commentary from film historian Russell Dyball. He provides a running, screen-specific look at story/characters and genre topics, cast and crew, various production notes and Dyball’s opinions about the film itself.
This means a mix of interpretation/criticism with movie facts. I’d like more of the latter and less of the former, but Dyball still makes this a pretty engaging track.
We can watch the movie with or without an introduction by film historian Kim Newman. It goes for eight minutes, 33 seconds as Newman delivers some notes about the flick, its genre and its creators. Newman gives us a decent lead-in to the film.
Before & Beyond the Cold War Creatures delivers a one-hour, 13-minute, 57-second documentary with film critic/historian Stephen R. Bissette. As we view archival materials related to the subject matter, we get notes about the life and career of producer Sam Katzman.
This doesn’t become an especially dynamic presentation, as various old ads and articles fill the screen for long stretches. Still, Bissette tells a lot about Katzman and makes this an informative piece, even if it lacks much panache.
Next comes a Super 8 Version of Brain. It spans 19 minutes, 27 seconds and indeed provides an abbreviated cut of the film.
Obviously it loses a whole lot of movie, as it runs 50 minutes shorter than the finished product. To compensate, the Super 8 edition adds narration, but it still seems fairly incoherent.
Unsurprisingly, the print looks pretty terrible, too. Nonetheless, it becomes a cool historical curiosity.
In addition to the film’s trailer, we finish with an Image Gallery. It shows 27 shots that mix publicity stills and shots from the movie. It becomes a decent but kind of blah collection.
Nothing about Creature With the Atom Brain redefines the horror genre, but it creates a reasonably lively thriller. Despite some iffy moments, it usually seems creative and involving. The Blu-ray comes with generally good picture, better than average audio and an array of bonus materials. This turns into a stronger movie than I expected.
Note that Atom Brain comes only as part of a four-film package called “Cold War Creatures”. In addition to Atom Brain, it brings three other movies from producer Sam Katzman: The Werewolf, Zombies of Mora Tau and The Giant Claw.