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The movie is indeed a pastiche of two separate films with separate
casts, shot years apart. However, I take issue with Leonard Maltin and
the others who refer to the Stanley Cortez footage (the latter part of
the film) as being from the 1950s. The actors are dancing The Twist in
the Dos Palabras club in one Cortez scene. The Twist became a craze in
the Fall of 1960, and remained all the rage for the next couple of
years. The original Madmen of Mandoras was released in 1963 (I have a
22X28 poster, complete set of lobby cards, and some stills from this
flick). All this is consistent with an early '60s (probably '62 or '63)
filming of the Cortez footage.
The el cheapo additional footage (the first part of the film) was probably shot sometime between 1972-1976. The "liner notes" to the Drive-In Cult Classics 2 DVD says the modification of the old Crown International Pictures for TV release began in 1972, and the first mention of "They Saved Hitler's Brain" in a TV listing was in December, 1976.
BTW, StanleyCortez was a distinguished cinematographer who was nominated for an academy award - Orson Welles' The Magnificent Ambersons; he also photographed Charles Laughton's Night of the Hunter. The professionally photographed latter part of the film compared with the totally amateurish photography in the first part of the film makes the hodgepodge all the more evident.
It seemed that towards the end of the Second World War the Nazi's not
only came up with a game plan to escape from the advancing allies to a
South American country named Mandoras to regroup their forces and wait
until the time was right to launch their second attempt to take over
the world. They had a far more deadlier and sinister plan in how to do
it then the use of any Atomic or Hydrogen bomb. The Nazis dreamed up a
most intriguing idea of how they can take their leader, Adolf Hitler,
along with them by putting his head, well really his brain, in a sealed
and vacuumed-packed jar and have it, the brain's, super intelligence
direct and guide them to total victory.
You would wonder why his brain? or even his head? why not Hitler's whole body? A movie that has to be seen to be believed with footage taken from two totally different films spliced together to try to make some sense to what the story is all about. With the results of the movie starting out like a porno flick,without any sex, and ending up like a bunch of out-takes of a very bad imitation of "Mission Impossible".
We have Hitler's head popping up all over the movie like some jack-in-the-box giving orders to his Nazi henchmen and evilly smirking every time someone gets beaten, shot or killed by them.
It had to be a miracle of science that they could have Hitler's head severed from his body and not only live but be able to communicate with them and instruct them on how to conquer the entire world. All this when he was not able to do so when he was still in one piece during the war before he was smuggled out of Germany by them. Did somehow by him becoming bodiless make Hitler smarter?
The plot also revolves around something called G-gas being released into the air and thus making it possible for the Nazi's hair brain plan of world domination to become a reality. Theirs only one hitch to their evil scheme, they have to stop a US scientist who's working on an antidote to the G-gas that would short-circuit their entire operation.
You know what, that after all these years since the release of "They Saved Hitler's Brain' I can't for the life of me see why Hollywood hasn't made a sequel.
Got around to finally watching this film the other night. Let me just say that I love bad films. I just get a kick out of them and while I am fully aware that they are bad, for the most part, they are still fun to watch. Not this one!!! I'm sure we all know the story behind this movie. It's actually two films spliced into one and combines a 1950's Nazi/Exploitation/Sci-Fi movie with some sort of espionage 1960's outing. The result is a mess and an incredibly tough experience to get through. Again, if there was a fun factor to it, I probably would have been entertained but the thing was so boring and seemed to drag on forever that I had a tough time staying awake. A lot of rambling dialogue that can be laugh inducing with a few beers I suppose but other then that, forget it. What was so weird is how the characters from the first half of the film were either disposed of or never to be seen or heard from again as the second half got going. They just disappeared as the action shifted to Mandoras. The best thing about the movie and what was really hilarious were the images of Bill Freed as the head of Adolph Hitler. The only thing he ever utters is "mach schnell! mach schnell!" and he only does that one time. Still, Freed's silent facial expressions and gyrations did have me laughing. If you want a "so bad, it's good" kind of experience, stick with Ed Wood because this one is really a total bore.
I am a B Movie Whore. I get perverse pleasure out of really bad movies.
Plus, you can learn a lot about movie making by observing other people's
mistakes. Some of my favorite Bad movies include "Teenage Zombies", "Plan
9", "The Beast of Yucca Flats" and "Shriek of the Mutilated".
But nothing prepared me for "They Saved Hitler's Brain". This is a disjointed mess, with mismatching scenes (which were filmed over 10 years apart) laughable special effects and abysmal acting.
This movie was originally made in the 1950s and then some acting students purchased it and added some new scenes. But the students forget to dress as if they were in the fifties. Consequently, there are sixites hairstyles and cars in one scene, and then fifties styles and cars in another. Totally bizarre.
The special effects look as if they were created by 8 year olds for a 3rd grade school play. The scenes with Hitler's head in a glass tube are unforgettably absurd. The plot lacks any sort of coherence.
Now, some bad movies are fun to watch because you can laugh at them. But this movie just makes you stare at it with your mouth open, in stunned confusion and utter disbelief.
The scenes with Hitlers Head in the jar, especially when he is riding in the front seat of his henchman's car, are so wacky and silly, that they alone are worth suffering through this mess.
But be forewarned. This one is tough to watch. So far, it is the worst movie I have ever seen.
The acting and special effects in this film are so bad as to be funny. The lack of any meaningful (or at least coherent) plot is equally hysterical. I was laughing so hard in some scenes that I had trouble getting my breath. As far as a serious horror film is concerned this is disaster but as far as a comedy is concerned it is smash hit.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
"Disembodied Head Movies" are a strange lot. A head is removed for some
reason, such as execution ("The Thing that Couldn't Die"), medical
reasons ("The Thing With Two Heads"), experimentation ("The Incredible
Two Headed Transplant"), or accident ("The Brain that Wouldn't Die").
No matter the reason for decapitation, the living head is generally in
a pretty foul mood and makes life miserable for just about everyone.
Here, Hitler's head is removed so the Führer can dictate again another
you're a group of Nazis who have successfully removed Hitler's
head and secretly taken it to a South American island. You're hanging
around on the island, so what's your next move? It's to poison the
world with "Nerve Gas G", of course!
This movie is actually two spliced-together ones, each with completely different actors and locations. The earlier footage, from the 1950s or early 1960s, is actually very well photographed and atmospheric in spots. The latter, late 1960s footage is extremely shoddily and cheaply made. The plot concerns Nazis living on the island of Mandoras and their plan to conquer the world by gassing everyone, then taking over. They test the nerve gas on a poor elephant, and then kidnap an American scientist to accomplish their goal. The scientist's daughter follows his trail to Mandoras, whereupon her good-guy accomplices attack and defeat the Nazis before they can release the deadly gas, finally annihilating them on a beach with explosives. Hitler (shown as a plastic head) satisfyingly burns up at the film's ridiculous climax.
This picture should have been entitled "They Saved Hitler's Head and Shoulders", because that's what you see hooked up to ominous-looking life-support machinery. Bill Freed (who plays Hitler) keeps a straight face while sitting under a glass dome and barking orders to his Nazi underlings. Actor Carlos Rivas provides the funniest parts of the film, grimly describing in flashback how the head of "Mr. H" was removed for posterity and secreted out of Germany. No matter how you look at it, this film is a one-of-a-kind movie with a plot that's very unlikely to be reused anytime soon. It's good for some remarkable belly laughs and some rather jaw-dropping scenes.
I assume everyone knows that They Saved Hitler's Brain is basically two bad
movies crushed together as one. The first 20-30 minutes were produced in
the mid-sixties, and the rest was produced in the late fifties...a fact that
really comes through in the production values.
I actually prefer the first half of the movie, and do have at least one good thing to say about this film...the editing in in the first half is excellent. The chase and crash footage from Thunder Road is edited in rather seemlessly...if I hadn't seen Thunder Road first, I would have never recognized it or realized it was stock footage.
Of course, all the characters introduced in the first ten minutes are dead by the halfway point, and the fifties-half of the movie begins, which actually takes you down to South America (or at least San Diego) to meet Mr. H, his goons, and his inane plan for immortality. We go from bad but moderately interesting sixties film to bad and boring fifties sci-fi/nazi movie.
I assure you, as great as a movie entitled "They Saved Hitler's Brain"
sounds, it does not live up to that title. It doesn't even live up to the
title "They." It's just disappointing.
The plot in general is a little difficult to follow, but as I understand it, well, they saved Hitler's brain. And given that a brain is really no good without a head, they also saved Hitler's head, and a bit of a neck. That way he could live in a big glass jar and bark orders in German.
Sure it sounds fun, but we only see Hitler Head for about 5 minutes out of the 90 total. The rest of the time winds through confusing kidnapping plots, and government scientist, and formulas, and lots of boring people who speak in unnecessary Spanish accents. I never quite understood who was the main character (They sort of shift back and forth), or who was the villain (Hitler I guess, but really his role is more of a cameo). Until they get to the wacky Nazis, it's all rather unfunny, and generally uninteresting.
The movie is poorly made, and that keeps it from being a complete snooze, but with a title like "They Saved Hitler's Brain" I really expected better. Disappointing.
"Is this a bad joke?!" utters a character when the plot is explained. In all fairness, I can't see how anyone would elevate this to ANY list, good or bad; mediocre but not Ed Woodian or as as bad as "Mesa of Lost Women." The oddity of the film is that some 1970's people added some footage at the beginning, which doesn't advance the plot but does highlight that the ORIGINAL, in contrast, had higher production values which viewers dismiss. Why they added more is a mystery: to finish the film? to change its politics (women's lib)? Given the fact that it was probably too expensive to replicate the "look" of the original footage, it was probably a money-making scheme. The original was on a par with other low-budget films like "Beatniks," "Teenagers from outer space", etc., with a few recognizable actors. Add to that it's intentionally funny moments (husband-wife banter, a beatnik sister, an improbable marriage at the climax) makes this NOT a topper for movie Baddom. What would have been interesting was if the amateur 1970's filmmakers had disassembled the film, like Steve Martin's "Dead men don't wear plaid" or Woody Allen's dubbed spy movie "What's up tigerlily"(surely the granddaddy of MST3K). As for the misnamed title, 2 other 'head' films also avoid using "head": "Brain that wouldn't die"(though they change the movie title at the end from brain to head) and "Thing that couldn't die." I guess "head" just doesn't sound scary. And the other complaint that 'Mr. H'(aka Hitler) doesn't say anything, well, it's not the Biography Channel; besides, what else would he say?: "Will someone PLEASE scratch my nose?!" For this invasion he's literally just a figurehead/paperweight (one of the characters alludes to this), and his head without a body aptly metaphors the Nazi totalitarian society where noone must feel anything (what would Nazis do on a Saturday night?). As Mr. H's plans backfire again, you'd think he'd learn from history: two wrongs don't make a Reich.
Getting that awful joke out of the way, let me explain.
This film exists in two forms. THEY SAVED HITLER'S BRAIN is the much worse of the two. Avoid at all costs.
But, MADMEN OF MANDORAS is a hilarious little sci-fi/exploitation B-movie, well worth your time. Please see my more extensive review under that title.
The film was released as MADMEN OF MANDORAS in 1963 and did play in theaters. Posters and lobby cards were made. It probably played in drive-in theaters and ratty city grindhouses on the bottom of double bills.
Around 1972, additional footage was added and the movie released again (probably to television) as THEY SAVED HITLER'S BRAIN. I guess to sell it to TV the movie needed to be a little longer. What a mess. The two different groups of footage do NOT mesh together at all.
But MADMEN OF MANDORAS, recently released by BCI in their Starlite Drive-In Theater series of DVDs, (from the original negative!) is worth getting for fans of schlocky 60's grade-Z trash. Sure, the plot is insane, the film is loaded with every cliché about Latin America that ever came out of Poverty Row Hollywood, and the Hitler head in a jar (not just brain, entire head; it actually even speaks and yells a little) isn't even remotely scary, it's just hilarious.
Fans of Ed Wood films and similar low budget trash will be in heaven here with the stilted dialog, mind-boggling plot machinations and perfunctory grade-B acting, with plenty of phony Spanish accents. MADMEN OF MANDORAS sits on my shelf with pride, right alongside Plan Nine, Robot Monster and Mesa of Lost Women. Quaff a few adult beverages, and enjoy.
They Saved Hitler's Brain: One Star
Madmen of Mandoras: Nine Stars! Get it!
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