Brainiac (El Barón del Terror) (Chano Urueta, 1961)

posted in: Duane, Review | 0
When the local Baron of a Mexican township in the 17th century is burned alive for purportedly cavorting with the devil, he curses his inquisitors vowing to take revenge on their descendants. 300 years later he arrives in his magic comet of doom, appearing as a hideous forked-tongued tentacled monstrosity intent on devouring the brains of the progeny of those who killed him.Brainiac-25281-2529
Billed as “The most bizarre horror movie ever”, Chano Urueta’s (The Witch’s Mirror) Brainiac has been on my to-watch list for a number of years now. Although it is quite strange in premise, once you get past the weird Inquisition vs. space monster/devil worshiper concept it’s just another monster movie. That’s not entirely a bad thing. Essentially you have the Baron Vitelius (Abel Salazar) coming back to take revenge on his detractors by sticking his forked tongue into the backs of their heads and changing his appearance so he can wander about the populace unnoticed. Using his magic glowing eyeballs he is able to lull his victims into a state of paralysis which allows him to perform all manner of dastardly deeds like smooching some guy’s wife in front of him, or tearing up a desk full of books (!) before showing his true form and dispatching them with extreme prejudice (read: slowly ambling toward them with his pulsating skull and his rubber tentacle fingers wriggling before licking them with his forked tongue of hate). Don’t misconstrue, the movie is quite a bit of fun and managed to hold my interest adequately despite there being no nudity or gore to speak of (save for the Baron’s bowl of brains that he needs to sneak off to regularly so he can slurp up a spoonful – with dainty spoon and shaking hand).Brainiac-25283-2529
The effects are about what one would expect from a Mexican B-movie circa 1962. The demonic visage of the Baron is charmingly ridiculous and clearly just looks like a guy in an elaborate rubber suit; the aforementioned magic glowing eyeballs are just a light shone on his upper face while he makes his (I assume) “alluring” face (that part reminded me a lot of Tod Browning’s Dracula (1931) where they illuminated Bela Lugosi’s eyes as he tried to leer menacingly).
The Inquisition scene at the beginning of the film I found to be very well done and a lot of effort seemed to be put into the happenings and atmosphere of the Baron’s trial. The film kind of switches gears into campy monster movie after this segment and it doesn’t fit very well with the rest of the film. The rest of it is mostly ladies screaming and people bumbling about confused while an astronomer attempts to sound smart by speaking in confusing technical terms that make little sense. Whether he’s sucking the brains out of hookers, cheap whores at the bar or taking revenge on those that opposed him 300 years prior, the Baron’s Modus Operandi is the same… charm them, beguile them, awkwardly suck their brains out in G-rated fashion. Fortunately the film’s relatively short running time means this doesn’t have a chance to become too redundant before the ridiculous finale (where in fuck do police detectives get flamethrowers? WTF?)
At times Brainiac takes itself far too seriously with complicated dialogue and constipated acting, but once you see the monster you have to know they were having a blast making this. If you enjoy campy 50s-60s monster/sci-fi movies this is certainly one of the better offerings I’ve been privy to. Worth a look.

Official COSDS Nunspank Rating:

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Duane co-founded The Church of Splatter-Day Saints in 2005. When not immersed in film he's enjoying good whiskey, smoking meat in the backyard or thinking about sluts. He makes a damn fine habanero fire sauce.

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