Tuesday, December 6, 2011

THEY SAVED HITLER'S BRAIN (1968) - of all the Nazi plans for world domination, this one could've used a rewrite or two

Even with my low expectations for the human race, it's hard for me to fathom that a group of people would want to preserve Hitler’s brain. I can’t think of anything I'd like to save least. Heck, I might argue that Hitler’s brain is the most evil thing the world has ever seen. I mean, it was chiefly responsible for masterminding the holocaust, as well as being responsible for persuading others that this was a good idea. You know, If I ever happened upon Hitler’s brain, I’m punting that fucker into oncoming traffic.

Well, it turns out that a group of straggling Nazis have saved Hitler’s entire head, keeping it alive in a fish bowl that sits atop a ham radio (not a radio made of ham you moron). Hitler’s head apparently wasn’t satisfied with the six million dead Jews, and wants to destroy more human life by way of the “G-gas”, which paralyzes human brains within a very large radius (and is also undetectable). This is explained during an educational film where an elephant is subjected to the gas and rolls over and falls asleep. Standing in their way is a scientist who has concocted an antidote to the gas named “Formula D”. You know, maybe if the gas was named “extermination gas” and the antidote was called “savior rub” instead of these generic sounding titles, perhaps people would view them within the proper moral context. Anyway, I guess Adolf is not just content killing Jews and now wants to kill everyone all of a sudden. Everyone, that is, except his cronies and himself (well, what is left of himself). If there is anything worse than genocide, it is inconsistent genocide.

Luckily, there is a hero out to foil this plan. He points out that the Nazis are “slappers of women and torturers of old men.” This fits nicely within the 50’s sci-fi tradition of having the hero call out the villain as an evil no-gooder, but this cutting description seems lacking for such an evil bunch. Lo and behold, when the hero’s wife (who doubles as his sidekick) starts to get hysterical after being stalked by a Nazi, he slaps her to “get her back to normal.” Maybe the director was saying that the pre-feminism male was “Nazi-esque”, but somehow I doubt it. Before feminism exploded, there were certain instances where slapping your wife was apparently the right thing to do. You know, real men doing real things the right way while wearing a suit.

Now, I know what you’re thinking folks; Hitler died in that bunker and could have never lived to star in a borderline nonsensical exploitation film! Au contraire…there were actually “stunt Hitlers” running around during World War II, and the Hitler body that was found was actually one of these stunt Hitlers. You see, if you stick a Charlie Chaplin mustache on any angry German fellow with black hair, he’s pretty much Hitler, and no one can tell the difference. Anyway, our hero figures this out and ends up chasing the head in a jar and his cronies to a cave that might not be Bronson Canyon, but is no doubt the next closest thing to Bronson Canyon. He handles thing the American way, indiscriminately tossing hand grenades, one of which happens to land close to Hitler’s fish bowl radio setup (which was pretty cutting edge circa 1963, like “Playboy Magazine ad” cutting edge). Granted, it’s all a day late and six million short, but evil has been vanquished and the world can finally sleep easy. The end.

If that sounds like scant plot material for a 50’s sci-fi cheapie, keep in mind that the original film “Madmen of Manora” is actually from 1963 and runs a svelte 63 minutes. However, this version is credited as being from 1968 (despite showcasing what looks to be early 70’s fashion) and runs a robust 91 minutes. Basically, the first 30 minutes or so is additional exposition footage shot later to try and further explain the intricacies of the “unleash a gas to kill a bunch of people because Hitler’s head said so” plot. I know you want to make a movie seem “modern” by having a character show up and give exposition whilst rocking a crucial mustache and a flared collar, but the end result is that you are padding out plot areas that nobody gives a shit about. For the people that do give a shit, they would have probably paid close enough attention to the shorter version to figure out what was happening.

The central thrust of the movie is the absurdity of the evil central plot for world domination, but it is much more talked about than shown. I guess Nazis like Hitler, even if he’s just a head, and Hitler thought killing masses of people was a great idea…so why not. The point is that Nazis are a bunch of evil fucks out to destroy the world, and our hero has to find them and stop them. This is hardly worthy of a 90 minute run time, but at least the Madmen of Manora section has pretty cool photography by the great Stanley Cortez (Night of the Hunter, Shock Corridor), including angular and even zig zaggy shadows. In the end, it may seem ridiculous to want to worship some screaming German head that lives in a fish bowl, but the really ridiculous part were the ideas that the brain part of the head was able to justify using psychopathic hatred and faulty logic, and the will to persuade as many people as possible that these ideas should be worshiped.

P.S. This was written as part of "Project Terrible", hosted by Mondo Bizarro. Click on the link; there is plenty more terrible where that came from.Link

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