Friday, July 24, 2020


Monstrosity (aka The Atomic Brain)
Joseph V. Mascelli

Three women, Nina Rhodes (Erika Peters), Beatrice Mullins (Judy Bamber), and Anita Gonzales (Lisa Lang) are hired to work as domestic servants for the elderly Mrs. March (Marjorie Eaton). Mrs. March, of course, has a hidden agenda. With the aid of Dr. Frank (Frank Gerstle), she is auditioning these women to be the future home of her consciousness. The three women begin to realize something is amiss when March and Frank find a lab under the house. The feral dog-man lurking in the forest nearby doesn’t help matters either.
Monstrosity is another film that falls in the 'scientists preying on women to preserve another woman' subgenre that saw a brief rise after the release of Eyes Without a Face (1960). In this case, Monstrosity crossbreeds itself with poverty row old dark house films. Our three heroines find themselves isolated in a creaky old mansion where they must uncover the mystery that is closing in around them. There is also a veneer of sleaze, these three potential victims are objectified and ogled throughout the movie. The film spices up things just a little by throwing in some atomic flavored mad-science, creating a film that is unique if never exactly competent.

"I want you to know this is the worst bed and breakfast I've even been to."

The acting is where Monstrosity has its biggest failing, a large part of this due to the voices being added separately after filming. It doesn’t help that we are treated to some of the most incompressible bad fake accents in a film. Nina and Anita are supposed to be Mexican and Australian respectively but neither of the actors seems to have heard anyone with those accents speak before. Why give characters accents at all if you don’t have actors who already have them or are unable to perform them. Their nationalities have very little to do with plot aside from a passing remark that Mrs. March could have them deported for failing her. 

There aren’t many special effects in the film, but it does manage to show-off just a little bit of gore, still not a common element in horror films from this period and mostly relegated to low-budget independent films like this that would show in small theaters and drive-ins. The salacious moments are even more reserved choosing to merely hint at sex and nudity, but I think with its short runtime it makes the best of what it has. 

"I'm not touching you. Does this bother you? I'm not touching you."

The biggest strength of Monstrosity is that it is well aware of its true intentions and doesn’t hide them. The film’s narrator seems to take glee in the objectification and eventual doom of these women. Watching Mrs. March size them up adds a sapphic flavor to the proceedings. The end raises the stakes to the level of an exploding house and a pissed of a housecat with the mind of a human. If any movie can get there in barely over an hour with a dog-man attack, gouged out eyeballs, and skeleton it is worth at least cursory viewing.

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