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'The Brain From Planet Arous' is a compelling tale of a scientist who becomes possessed by an alien with an attitude. The scientist is played by b-grade legend John Agar ('Attack Of The Puppet People' and dozens of other gems) and the alien is a giant floating brain with eyes. Did I mention that the alien is sex-starved and has the hots for Agar's fiancee good girl Joyce Meadows? Meadows and her Pop (Thomas Browne Henry) desperately plot to save Agar before he can a) jump her bones and b) enslave the world, their only help being another (good) alien who hides inside their faithful pooch. Yes, this is one ridiculously entertaining movie that will be enormously enjoyed by any bad movie buff. Highly recommended sci fi silliness!
This plot of this film is really out there-an arrogant evil alien brain named Gor possesses the body of Steve March(here played with gusto by John Agar) and plans on using it to help her conquer the world!(and also get real friendly with Steve's girlfriend Sally-played by Joyce Meadows). A good alien brain named Val inhabits Sally's dog to try and stop the evil alien brain. It's amazing how entertaining and fun this film really is--watching it is always a good time.
My 10/10 rating of course only applies because I assume that only
'50s-B-movie fetishists would even take any interest in "The Brain from
Planet Arous". But previous reviewers have noted that this movie takes
a slightly different approach: criminal brain Gor comes to earth to
inhabit a man's body and thereby rule the universe, while police brain
Vol arrives in search of the criminal brain (meaning that most of the
brains on Planet Arous are good guys). Therefore, even non-fetishists
should take some interest in this movie.
The characters are pretty much what one would expect: the men are all hot-headed, while the one woman is desperate. The main character Steve March is played by John Agar, aka Shirley Temple's first husband. I also saw him in "Journey to the Seventh Planet" (although I paid slightly more attention to the hot babes in that one). Maybe he starred in '50s and '60s B-sci-fi movies because his reputation as Shirley Temple's ex limited his opportunities (actually, I don't know whether that limited his opportunities). Also starring are Joyce Meadows as Steve's hubby Sally Fallon, Thomas Brown Henry as her father John, and Dale Tate as the voices of Gor and Vol. If this had ever gotten shown on "MST3K", Mike or Servo or Crow probably would have said "If Planet Arous has a brain, why didn't the people behind this movie?" But I personally didn't think find this a bad movie. Like any '50s sci-fi flick, you have to accept it for what it is.
The first time I ever saw or heard of BRAIN FROM PLANET AROUS, I was
twelve and it was shown on "Creature Features." When I first saw it, I
thought it was kind of cheap, but I enjoyed it. Years later I heard of its
bad reputation but I had my memories of it not being all that bad. Seeing it
again as an adult, I actually found much the films ludicrousness
entertaining. Not just that, I was surprised by the films slightly unusual
premise: the alien brain named Gor bent on taking over the Earth is a
criminal. The rest of the Arousians are like Vol- a policeman from Arous
sent to arrest the evil Gor - basically peaceful. It's slightly unusual for
a film from this period for the alien invader to be portrayed as not
representative of his race. The idea of alien police man stalking an alien
criminal (as a previous commentator in this forum has noted) has turned up
in few science fiction novels. This plot also shows up in the excellent 1987
thriller THE HIDDEN.
While the films special effects are cheap, they are no better or worse than those in most other programmer films made on this budget from the same period. The film does has some really ludicrous moments already mention by previous reviewers. Some complaints mentioned in this forum are unjustified and seem to be the result of straining. Like the commentator who complained about bodies not decaying. It's absurd, but it is the kind of mistake that turns up all the time even in "good" movies.
One of the films main problems is John Agar. As film historian and 50's science fiction expert Bill Warren has pointed out, John Agar tries, but he can't pull it off. When he becomes possessed and tries to be evil, he comes across more as comical than menacing. If a much better actor was cast, perhaps this film might be more highly regarded. I think a good example would be to compare Agar's performance to that of Lew Ayers in DONOVAN'S BRAIN (See my entry on that film). DONOVAN'S BRAIN has a similar theme: evil disembodied brain bent on world conquest takes over the body of a scientist. Ayers was convincing, Agar is not.
Perhaps the strangest thing about this film is that when it first came out, reviewers dismissed it as a "routine programmer" "conventional science fiction" and "just another double bill shocker." Regardless of what you think of this film, I'm sure you will agree those words certainly don't apply to BRAIN FROM PLANET AROUS.
Till next time...Your Old Pal Jim.
This film gets off to a decent start. I like films set in the desert. And
the acting of Robert Fuller is adequate. But too soon, we leave the desert,
Fuller leaves the movie (to save his career no doubt). And we're left with
a dimwitted plot, campy looking aliens that wouldn't scare a bird, and John
All suspense is lost early on when we see the evil alien, an uninspired floating ball with two sleepy eyes. And of course the ball speaks English, convenient for the film's characters --- and the intended audience. Near the end of the film, the alien makes a little speech (in English of course), rambling on about Caesar, Napoleon, and Hitler. Seems our alien is both talkative and well educated.
The film's plot is painfully anthropomorphic. The idea of a criminal "brain" hungry for power is hardly alien; it's all too human. And John Agar's performance has to be seen to be believed. His facial expression right before he kills the sheriff is true camp. The abrupt ending of the film gives the impression that it ended simply because the producer ran out of money.
This campy, 1950's sci-fi flick is a lot of fun. I get more laughs out of it than I do out of some contemporary comedies.
"The Brain From Planet Arous" is one of the campiest, cheesiest, and
most entertaining sci-fi films from the 50s. It may be laughable and
ludicrous, but its certainly never boring. While not nearly as
technically inept as "Robot Monster" or "Plan 9 From Outer Space", it
provides just as many giggles. It deserves it reputation as one of the
most beloved pieces of schlock from the decade. This is one of the
least serious science fiction films imaginable, using scientific
notions as simply an excuse for some on-screen scares. The idea of a
giant floating brain from outer space attempting to invade the earth
single-handedly is hilarious. Even funnier is how a second, nicer brain
is sent to our planet and takes over the mind of a dog to stop this
At the forefront of it all is a memorable performance from John Agar. Hes over-the-top throughout and really makes the film. Whether its attempting to scare a meeting of all the important nations of the world (about seven leaders in a small office building room) or laughing hysterically and gleaming his eyes, Agar is a riot throughout. Hes more than just Shirley Temple's husband, he a cult legend! Were not talking "2001: A Space Odyssey" here folks. What were talking about is one of the most enjoyable b-sci-fi films of the decade. (7/10)
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
If you watch 1950s sci-fi much, then you're familiar with John Agar.
Using a flashlight, he conquered an entire civilization in "The Mole
People"; he saved a small Arizona town from destruction in "Tarantula";
but here, he really excelsAgar saves the entire universe! When
scientist Steve (Agar) and his assistant Dan (Robert Fuller) notice a
"blast of radiation" from Mystery Mountain, they decide to investigate.
In a nearby cave, they're attacked by a giant floating brain with eyes,
which kills Dan with a bright light and then (in a very inept special
effect) hides in Agar's body.
Back at the lab, the brain emerges from Steve, introduces himself as "Gor" from the Planet Arous, and tells Steve he'd better cooperateor else. Since Gor is so powerful, he can control everything Steve does, and pretty soon Steve starts getting quite lecherous with his fiancée Sally (Joyce Meadows). This has to be some sort of cinema first a sex-starved floating brain! Later, Sally and her dad John (Thomas Browne Henry) are visited by yet another floating brain, this one's named "Vol" and is a law-enforcement brain from Arous. Vol announces that he also needs a body to hide out in, and after thinking it over, decides to hide in Agar's dog, George. Not silly enough yet? Just wait .
When he's not pawing Sally or tormenting Steve, Gor blows up a passenger plane, kills the local sheriff, burns up an Army colonel, and sets off a nuclear explosion. He then assembles representatives from all the world's countries and tells them that they must help him construct a fleet of spaceships so he can conquer Arous, then the universe! (At least Gor doesn't think small.)
Things are looking pretty bleak, so Sally has a chat with Vol. He tells her that Gor could conceivably be killed by a direct blow to the top of his, uh, cerebrum in the area of the "Fissure of Rolando". She leaves a note to Steve telling him about Gor's weakness, so when Gor emerges again, Steve grabs a convenient ax, and beats the offending brain to death in a bravura climax.
Probably the most fascinating thing about this movie is that the cast keeps perfectly straight faces throughout the whole film. If you're in for vintage entertainment with the most outrageously silly sci-fi plot of all time, you should watch this.
The concept, though not brilliant, could have worked -- but the amateurish
treatment spoils the effort. While conducting field work in the desert,
scientist John Agar encounters a huge floating brain which turns out to be a
sadistic, power-hungry alien name Gor, a fugitive from it's home planet.
The alien can become translucent and fade into Agar's body, controlling him
while it uses its telekinetic powers and delights in the pleasures of human
flesh. But it has to come out every twenty hours to `re-oxygenate' (?).
Admittedly the alien is not badly designed (the brain has strange glowing
eyes with no pupils).
Whenever Gor/Agar is using his telekinetic powers, Agar's eyes become shiny black orbs (an nice bit of makeup). Gor/Agar demonstrates his mental powers of destruction for a group of generals and diplomats by `willing' an atomic explosion to occur in the nearby desert (great stock footage of buildings being destroyed by shock waves and heat flashes). Then Gor/Agar orders them to put Earth's population to work creating a space fleet so he can return to his own planet and conquer it.
Meanwhile, a second alien name Vol comes to Earth to save it from Gor. To spy on Gor, Vol takes control of Agar's dog. Vol/dog elicits the aid of Agar's fiancé (lovely Joyce Meadows). She's glad to help, because she already knew SOMETHING was wrong with Agar after he turned kinky and tried to rape her on a lawn chair.
Beware: the finale is a short and unexciting struggle between Agar (armed with an ax) and the floating Gor brain. And Agar's closing line to his fiancé' is painfully stupid. When she tries to tell him that a good-guy alien has been in control of the dog, John doesn't believe her. He just laughs and says, `Oh, honey -- that imagination of yours!'
If you're absolutely desperate for a 1950s sci-fi flick you haven't already watched to death, this one might be worth watching -- but only to laugh at.
My friend, who's a John Agar fan, clued me in on this. I saw it on video the other night. It's one of those movies that is so bad, that it's pretty good (or at least not a complete waste of time). I especially like the scene where Agar's character, while driving a jeep through the desert, crashes into a huge rock that he couldn't possibly have missed, then says something like "well, I guess we walk from here." The ending is completely beyond belief; you have to see it to believe anyone would end a movie like that.
This film has a reputation as one of the all-time stinkers, a reputation that it in no way deserves. How many stars should i give it? At least eight, but should I go as high as nine? Or even ten? Arguably it DOES deserve ten stars, as it compares favorably with such fifties sci fi classics as "Earth vs the Flying Saucers" (a definite "ten" film in my book). I've seen most of the John Agar science fiction films and i'm quite impressed with them. The man does reign as one of the great sci fi film icons of the fifties and sixties. Most of his sci fi films follow a formula. The idea is to contrast the charming Mr. Agar, the epitome of Midwestern normality, with the outrageous, literally out-of-this world goings-on featured in these pictures. And this formula almost always works. This time it's disembodied brains from outer space, a "good" brain and an "evil" one. The evil one ends up residing in Agar's body, so the actor ends up giving TWO performances in essence. He acts as his usual self, and as a maniacal power-crazed version of himself. (Picture McLean Stevenson playing the role of an out-and-out villain.) "Arous" has developed a cult following, but for all the wrong reasons. It shouldn't be noteworthy for being bad. It should be remembered as a very successful example of fifties-style formula science fiction.
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