So, Where else have I seen a disembodied Brain with Evil Eyes?

A scene from Return of Doctor Mysterio. Doctor Who © BBC
A scene from Return of Doctor Mysterio. Doctor Who © BBC

Watching (and enjoying) a certain TV Christmas special this weekend sent me scurrying to the web to explore other appearances of disembodied brains.

A stunning spread from Nexus by Mike Baron and Steve Rude, in which the mental energy of disembodied heads provides a power source
A stunning spread from Nexus by Mike Baron and Steve Rude, in which the mental energy of disembodied heads provides a power source

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.

The Keys of Marinus - Brain
One of the brain creatures that ruled the City of Morphoton in The Keys of Marinus

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.

The design of the brain creatures of the City of Morphoton was the work of the BBC’s Raymond Cusick and made by Shawcraft Models.
The design of the brain creatures of the City of Morphoton was the work of the BBC’s Raymond Cusick and made by Shawcraft Models.

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).

The unwilling host of evil brain Gor, Steve (John Angar)
The unwilling host of evil brain Gor, Steve (John Angar)

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.

The Brain from the Planet Arous - Film Poster
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?

Cop brain Vol takes control of a dog to save the day in The Brain from the Planet Arous
Cop brain Vol takes control of a dog to save the day in The Brain from the Planet Arous

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!

Return of Doctor Mysterio - Poster by Stuart Manning
Stuart Manning’s retro poster for the 2016 DoctorWho Christmas special The Return of Doctor Mysterio starring PeterCapaldi and Matt Lucas. Available as prints and art cards here

Watch The Return of Doctor Mysterio on BBC iPlayer free for the next 30 days (UK only)

• The Brain from the Planet Arous is available on DVD

Doctor Who: The Return of Doctor Mysterio is released on DVD on 23rd January 2017. Buy it from amazon.co.uk using this link support downthethetubes

Buy Doctor Who: The Return of Doctor Mysterio on Amazon Video

Buy Doctor Who: The Keys of Marinus from amazon.co.uk

• There’s more about the brain creatures featured in The Keys of Marinus here on Horrorpedia

John Freeman

The founder of downthetubes, John describes himself as is a "freelance comics operative", currently working as a freelance editor for TITAN COMICS, as Creative Consultant on the new DAN DARE audio adventures for B7 Media, and on promotional work for the LAKES INTERNATIONAL COMIC ART FESTIVAL and LANCASTER COMICS DAY. John has worked in British comics publishing for over 30 years, starting out at Marvel UK, where he edited a number of the Genesis 1992 books with Paul Neary. His numerous credits include editor of titles such as Doctor Who Magazine at Marvel and Star Trek Magazine and Babylon 5 Magazine at Titan Magazines, where he was Managing Editor. He also edited STRIP Magazine and worked as an editor on several audio comics for ROK Comics, including TEAM M.O.B.I.L.E. and THE BEATLES STORY. Most recently he is writing CRUCIBLE as a creator-owned project with 2000AD artist Smuzz, published on Tapastic; and DEATH DUTY and SKOW DOGS with Dave Hailwood for the digital comic 100% Biodegradable.

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