Release Date: OUT NOW! 1953 | PG | DVD Director: Felix Feist Cast: Lew Ayres, Gene Evans, Nancy Davis, Steve Brodie
Hollywood’s second shot at Curt Siodmak’s cult novel, this tale of possession is closer to its source material than 1944’ s The Lady And The Monster but plays like a product of its time: a sinister, suspicious fable for a nation peering through suburban blinds at the folk next door.
While Invasion Of The Body Snatchers made alien infiltration a resonant metaphor for the Red Scare, this piece of ’ 50s paranoia finds menace at the heart of the American dream. The unseen WH Donovan is an avaricious, taxdodging tycoon, capitalism at its cruellest. Fatally injured in a plane crash, his brain is kept alive by a surgeon keen to test the frontiers of medical ethics – Victor Frankenstein for the Eisenhower era, essentially (“What an idea! Stealing a man’s brain!”). Soon Donovan’s grey matter is exerting a malevolent influence on its saviour…
The sight of the brain, bubbling in its glass tank, lashed up to electrodes and whispering through oscilloscopes, makes for a wonderfully lurid visual but the movie never tips into full drive- in schlock. There’s a restrained touch of film noir in its hats and suits and shadows. Donovan wants to conquer the financial markets, not battle the army or terrify teens. The greatest special effect is Lew Ayres’s chilling turn as the scientist whose body is claimed from beyond the grave, identity theft made flesh and blood.
Extras: None. Nick Setchfield Director Felix Feist was the adoptive stepfather of fantasy novelist Raymond E Feist.
“Nope, it definitely can’t swim…”