One fine Monday afternoon at ye olde video shoppe, the indefatigable Tim Cooper and I were talking about bad horror movies, and he asked if I remembered the name of the movie in which the antagonist eats people’s brains with a spoon.
I had no idea what he was talking about which shocked me mightily. I mean, how could I have possibly missed such a thing?
He soon remembered it was called The Brainiac (U.S. release. It was El Baron Del Terror in Mexico) and fetched it from the Cult section. Clearly it was a professional obligation (if not a moral imperative) that I take it home and watch it.
Which I did.
Three times in a row.
Let me say first that the production value on Brainiac is surprisingly good. For the most part. It’s well lit, more than adequately shot, and not terribly acted. Even the premise, while not new, holds up just fine. In 1661, Baron Vitelius is condemned to death by The Inquisition and vows to come back 300 years later to get revenge on the descendants of the Inquisitors (nothing groundbreaking, but it’s serviceable, somewhat akin, in fact, to Barbara Steele in Black Sunday).
What’s wrong with Brainiac, however, is also what’s so very, very right about it.
Let’s start with the ending. There are flamethrowers involved. Being that the Baron was burned at the stake, we’ve come full circle. What mystifies me is why someone who comes back from the dead after 300 years is so easily dispatched. Maybe it’s an Achilles Heel/Kryptonite kinda thing.
Moving on–the monster.
First, Baron Vitelius has hypnotic ability which freezes his victims in their tracks and forces them to act against their will. This is cleverly signaled by a pulsating light that illuminates the Baron’s eyes (more or less as if someone is standing behind the camera man, pointing a light at the Baron’s face, and turning it on and off).
The monster itself is basically a guy in a rubber demon mask and weird “hands” that end in what look like suckers (which are not utilized in any meaningful fashion). The mask expands and contracts as if being inflated and deflated. My assumption is this is supposed to be breathing.
Then there’s the tongue that lolls out of said mask. It’s established (well, kind of) that this tongue removes the victims’ brains. It turns out, however, that antagonist has all these brains squirrelled away in a big ol’ soup tureen hidden on his grand estate. Every now and then, he avails himself of a spoonful or two of this, uh, delicacy, as if sampling a lovely between-course sherbet.
Sort of a cranial, homicidal, vengeance-from-the-grave palate cleanser if you will.