Saturday, September 28, 2013

There is no brunette writhing on the floor in a low-cut red bathrobe at any time during this film.

In this post: Atomic zombies to the rescue.

I think somebody drugged me this morning because I’ve been asleep almost ALL DAY. For example, I woke up at 7:30 after seven hours of sleep and felt mostly swell, although by 9:45 — just about the time I finished my previous Howdygram post — I could barely keep my eyes open and went back to bed, presumably for another hour of sleep. Unfortunately I didn’t actually wake up until 1:15 in the afternoon, at which time Sam and I immediately ate lunch, watched Creature with the Atom Brain on TCM (details follow), and then I sprawled out on the chaise and fell asleep AGAIN, waking up about 10 minutes ago at 6:25. I’m told I missed two huge rounds of thunderstorms this afternoon. (Crap.)

And now for a quick synopsis of Creature with the Atom Brain, a 1950s B-movie monsterfest starring Richard Denning and a cast of mostly-boring unknown extras. I’ll begin by making one thing perfectly clear: Contrary to what you see in this poster, there is no brunette writhing on the floor in a low-cut red bathrobe at any time during this film. Period.
As for the plot, radioactive beasts with super-human strength commit a pair of murders and the police are stumped. They’re actually remote-controlled zombies created by a former Nazi mad scientist (Dr. Steigg), whose evil work is being funded by a deported Italian mobster named Buchanan who sneaks back into the U.S. to get revenge on all the slobs who ever double-crossed him. An Italian named Buchanan? We soon learn that Steigg and Buchanan steal cadavers from the city morgue, replace their brains with atomic circuit boards and then send them all over town to kill people. Their work room is hidden behind lead walls, accessed only by crawling through a tunnel of industrial-strength Saran Wrap in 1950s-era radiation suits, where the zombies are juiced-up for service with goo bubbling in buckets. Yes indeedy, this is scary! ATOMIC GOO!
The police, led by forensic crime-solver Dr. Chet Walker (Richard Denning) and his cohort Uncle Dave, begin unraveling the connection between the first two murder victims and discover they’re both linked somehow to No-First-Name Buchanan and oozing with RADIOACTIVITY, so immediately Chet instructs the army to send jets overhead to detect the radiation source and military Good Humor trucks mounted with rooftop geiger counters start patrolling the neighborhood streets.
With the authorities closing in on them and instead of leaving town, our evil geniuses waste HOURS prepping another atomic zombie (this is a really big production because each stiff has to be hooked up to machines) whose sole function is to MAKE A CRANK CALL FROM A PAY PHONE and to KEEP IT BRIEF SO IT CAN’T BE TRACED! Buchanan gets the zombie to call authorities with the following terroristic threat: If the military doesn’t turn the planes and trucks around and leave them alone, “many people will be hurt in one hour.” (Holy crap, right?) Newspapers are splashed across the screen with typical B-movie headlines: “GOVERNMENT EXPERTS BAFFLED!” “MAYOR DOESN’T HAVE A CLUE!”

The upshot? Uncle Dave eventually gets killed and turned into one of Steigg’s zombies (sad face for Uncle Dave), but Chet saves the day when he discovers the location of the lab, trashes their machines and kills the evildoers. The world is safe for humanity once again. Happy face for Chet, right? Yay Chet!

Well, people, it’s 8:30 and I need to ponder dinner before my blood sugar gets too low. I feel somewhat unmotivated about food tonight, though, so maybe I’ll make a bowl of low-carb mashed potatoes — yes, this actually exists! — and figure out the rest afterwards. Please pass the butter.

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