Something Weird Video // 1968 // 204 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Bill Gibron // September 16th, 2003
The dead man walks, the scientists sink, and the cat woman meows.
A crazy old bat with more facial tics than a rabid tree squirrel has decided to use her vast fortune to forward the proven medical science of nuclear noggin transplantation. The sad mad scientist she hires has successfully merged a mutt with a man and a feline with a foreign femme fatale, so why should her supposed skull switch be any different? But when the pussy in Capri pants mauls a buxom British boob she wants as a body double, she is stuck inhabiting the head of a Teutonic tart. If her constipated, cranky octogenarian gigolo or the underpaid nuclear nutcase have anything to say about it, she'll never get a chance to try out her new Atomic Brain.
Meanwhile, the blousiest "virgin" bride ever to exude Swank centerfold appeal plots with her family physician to bury her impotent life partner -- alive! Seems the shriveled spouse suffers from catalepsy, which translates into looking a hell of a lot like Phil Spector. Doing his best pre-Python "I'm Not Dead Yet," he rises from the grave and begins to seek his revenge. Oh, and he indulges in a little off-purpose sexual fiendishness for added good fun. Between molesting matrons and frisking the physically non-descript, our zombified lothario moves ever closer to ridding the world of his barmaid better half and the doctor who determined that, for hubby, there'd be no Love After Death.
Finally, a scientifically sound submersible loses its life-giving cable connection and is sent hurtling to the ocean floor, destroying the dreams of its rather disheveled inventor. Needing to flee the bugled bathysphere, the two man/two hoochie crew abandons bell and heads out to a scuba dive-able spelunker's hideaway. Inside this cave of convenience, they discover a lot of weird rock formations, an active upside down volcano, and a horny as Hawthorne hermit. As the surface crew seeks out another watertight widget, the boys advance underwater aqualung Olympics. And the girls? They are stuck warding off the subterranean masher living in The Incredible Petrified World.
Welcome one and all to the Something Weird Video rummage sale, where no public domain movie goes unreleased. Seeing that there are other DVD releases of some of these titles available from other companies (Alpha, Rhino, etcetera), it makes sense for Something to get them out onto the bargain bin market place to help divide up the population's pennies for putrid Z-movies evenly. After all, if the digital digesting public has learned anything in the last few years of metal disc merchandising, it's that no film, no matter how beloved (Halloween) or bewildering (There's Something About Mary) is safe from being double-, triple-, or even nano-dipped to maintain a solid profit margin. This is not to say that SWV released these titles for purely financial considerations. Indeed, there was probably some call for movies about misguided brain surgery, Latinos with bad skin having pseudo sex, and John Carradine looking to reconnect with his hobo roots by playing the only aquatic scientist who could be mistaken for a homeless Sterno addict. To say that these films are flimsy excuses for the usually outstanding exploitation fare offered by the Seattle specialist label would be like stating that Big Brother 4 doesn't contribute to the betterment of all mankind. Not since the mindboggling dual bills of Bloodsuckers / Blood Thirst or Street of 1000 Pleasures / Way Out Topless have Mike Vraney and the gang released such a wretched pile of the pointlessly cinematic stillborn.
Fans of Mystery Science Theater already know about The Atomic Brain, AKA Monstrosity, AKA the film so bad they had to name it twice. Indeed, the main issue with this subdural hematoma is the lack of sympathy we have for the main character, old crone Hetty March. Looking like a scarecrow in drag and chewing her lips like a thick-tongued rapper with a stutter, she just can't seem to stop being angry long enough to control her peristaltic urges. She may be the first female fiend in the history of the horror film ready to puke from her own performance. Yet she's really no worse than Lisa Lang, playing a Mexican housemaid turned house cat via a trip in the mad doctor's nuclear flea dip. Her posture and animal imitations are so goofy that she comes across more fidgety than feline. Indeed, most aspects of The Atomic Brain are just as litter box fresh. The Incredible Petrified World on the other hand, should have been dubbed The Uninspired Trip to Mammoth Caves. Aside from discovering a wild-eyed Gaby Hayes imitator, the crew of the disabled diving bell spends a lot of time swimming underwater and staring at rock formations. They also explore the geological facets of the caverns. Each and every actor here looks lost in a script that has them marveling at items off screen and responding to things they could not possibly be aware of. There's even an odd subplot about newswoman Dale Marshall breaking up with her boyfriend. She spends the majority of the misadventure in a gloomy state of self loathing, so much so that when Lauri mentions her man meat Craig, Dale has a particularly pre-Jan Brady moment with the outburst "It's always about Craig isn't it. Craig! Craig!! CRAIG!!!" As illogical as it is impractical (four grown adults in a submersible the size of a New York Loft Apartment?), The Incredible Petrified World is fossilized from beginning to end.
That leaves Love After Death as the sole unfamiliar quantity here, and for a while it plays out like any typical foreign flesh film where people of questionable attractiveness fondle each other asexually for what seems like eons as the camera avoids crotch and groin shots. But then you start to notice the little things, cinematic sins like dubbing where there is NO ONE MOVING THEIR MOUTHS. Or better yet is the random inclusion of scenes (like an old lady holding her head) that played out minutes before, sort of like footnotes or reminders of what we'd just seen. Apparently cut by a group of Guatemalan school children, the editing of Love After Death is remarkably awful. But then there are portions of the film that actually work. When our hero rises from the grave after being wrongfully interred, it is well staged and fairly effective. Even more amusing is the sequence in which our undead dude spies on a couple having intercourse. As they are panting and pushing, he randomly wanders in, dressed immaculately in a white three-piece suit, and secrets himself in a closet for some advanced peeping. After the dirty deed is done, the naked husband walks over to the door and casually escorts the creep out. No anger. No histrionics. Just an informal bit of voyeurism and on with the days work. There is a "twist" at the end of Love After Death that is supposed to render it "shocking" and "unbelievable." All it really does is tie a bow of bumbling onto what is already an overwrapped package of painful pulchritude.
Therefore, as a triple feature of possible favorites, SWV bats one for three. Visually, the movies all have opening and closing issues, but once they start, the monochrome transfers are very crisp and sharp; deep blacks and limited muddy grays. Petrified World even comes in a 1.66:1 letterboxed transfer, the better to witness the ridiculous sound stage quality of the cavern sequences. As for extras, we do get a nice selection of trailers for films with titles as sensational as Curse of the Living Corpse and Frozen Alive! There is even a short section of the television opening for Monstrosity (under the The Atomic Brain moniker), which cuts out a few moments of the movie, thankfully. Add a nice gallery of horror comic art and more Dead Elvi goodness and you've got a package of precious perversity that may make someone in your household either happy or hysterical. The Atomic Brain / Love After Death / The Incredible Petrified World proves that not every triple bill is filled with a trio of fun, fright, and fantasy times. Sometimes, the pain and suffering can't even be measured by a factor of three.
Review content copyright © 2003 Bill Gibron; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2014 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
Studio: Something Weird Video
* 1.66:1 Anamorphic (The Incredible Petrified World only)
* Full Frame
* Dolby Digital 1.0 Mono (English)
Running Time: 204 Minutes
Release Year: 1968
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Theatrical Trailers
* Alternate Opening Title Sequence for The Atomic Brain's TV Version
* Ghastly Gallery of Ghoulish Comic Cover Art with Music by The Dead Elvi
* IMDb: The Atomic Brain
* IMDb: Love After Death
* IMDb: The Incredible Petrified World