Watching (and enjoying) a certain TV Christmas special this weekend sent me scurrying to the web to explore other appearances of disembodied brains.
Full heads in jars are pretty common of course, most notably those seen in Mike Baron and Steve Rude‘s wonderful space opera comic, Nexus. The animated show Futurama has had a lot of fun with this concept, too.
Of course, Doctor Who itself has visited the concept of “living brains” before. The First Doctor, for example, encountered living brains that governed the City of Morphoton in The Keys of Marinus, for example. Written by Dalek creator Terry Nation, the brain creatures were inspired classic horror films as the 1953 film Donovan’s Brain and Fiend Without a Face, released in 1958.
But if you are looking for brains with eyes with the same kind of look as those seen in The Return of Doctor Mysterio, then look no further than the utterly bonkers SF alien invasion B-movie The Brain from the Planet Arous. Released in 1957, this B-movie centres on Gor, a large disembodied criminal alien brain, who comes to Earth to control the population with its psychic powers.
It’s not long before the brain seizes control of a nuclear scientist named Steve, played by John Agar (also seen in Revenge of the Creature and Tarantula), who becomes an overly-amorous “regular caveman” under the alien’s bizarre influence. Yes, for some strange reason, Gor not only has the hots for taking over the Earth; he’s mad for Steve’s wife, too, played by Joyce Meadows (who fared better, role wise, in the 1958 western Frontier Gun, also starring John Agar).
With Steve as his puppet, Gor blows up an aeroplane in mid-flight (the film’s poster is more dramatic than the actual scene), kills a sheriff, and threatens to wipe out the capital cities of countries that don’t bend to his will, if they don’t have a representative of their government meet with him tout suite.
Luckily, Vol, another big brain from Arous to sort out this dastardly villain, who possesses the body of a dog in order to stop Gor from blowing anything else up. Thank heavens for good floating brains, eh?
While you’re enjoying this daft film that may or may not have influenced Doctor Who: The Return of Doctor Mysterio (an enjoyable romp of a Christmas special that drew on a lot of comics influences, too, not least of them the 1970s Superman films as well as the TV series Lois & Clark), watch out for Laramie and Wagon Train star Robert Fuller and the big screen debut of Bill Giorgio as a gruff Russian ambassador.
Those who enjoyed the Doctor Who special (and even those who perhaps didn’t), feel free to post your comic-related nods in the show below!
• There’s more about the brain creatures featured in The Keys of Marinus here on Horrorpedia