This Mexican horror picture first appeared in the U.S. on TV, hollowly dubbed and re-edited under the supervision of Florida-based producer K. Gordon Murray, who specialized in retooling low-budget foreign pictures for U.S. niche markets. It has since become a favorite of cult-movie buffs,
and is one of the best-known Mexican horror movies of the period.
Mexico, 1661: Baron Vitelius of Histera appears before Spanish Inquisition, accused of being a sorcerer, a heretic and a seducer of married women and maidens. Nobleman Marcos Miranda speaks on the Baron's behalf, but Vitelius is still condemned to burn at the stake. On the night of the execution,
a strange comet streaks through the sky. Vitelius turns to his masked executioners and calls out their names, vowing to return and take vengeance on their descendants when the comet next passes Earth.
1961: Young astronomers Ronald Miranda (the spitting image of Marcos) and Victoria Contreras rush to the local observatory to meet their mentor, Professor Milian, who's watching for the return of a comet last sighted in 1661. When the comet appears, it's heading straight for the ground. Vicki and
Ronnie are beaten to the crash site by an unfortunate motorist, who's killed by the horrible clawed monster that emerges from the comet. It sucks out his brains with its long forked tongue, then steals the man's clothes and assumes human form, the form of Baron Vitelius. Vitelius strolls away
from the scene, running into Ronnie and Vicki on the road. They exchange pleasantries, after which Vitelius makes his way to a late-night joint, picks up a barfly and kills her. The police are baffled by the killings, especially after the coroner points out the strange marks on the backs of the
The Baron throws a party and invites everyone in town, hoping to find the descendants of those who condemned him. They are all among the guests: local businessman Louis Meneses, historian Andelecio Pantoja, bride-to-be Ana Luisa del Vivar and Vicki. The Baron chats briefly with Ronnie and Vicki,
alluding to an illness that requires "special medication." This medication is, of course, the purloined brains, which he keeps concealed in a locked cupboard. The Baron first visits Pantoja, killing him and his daughter and burning down their house. He next kills Meneses, whom he shoves into an
industrial furnace, and his wife. After making a brief appearance at Ana Luisa's wedding, the Baron murders her in her boudoir. Meanwhile, the bumbling police have searched the Baron's home and found a scrap of paper listing the murder victims. They rush to find Vicki, whose name is the last one
on the list. Professor Milian tells them that she and Ronnie have gone to the Baron's house. Just as Ronnie discovers the cache of brains and the Baron attempts to kill Vicki, the police burst in, armed with flamethrowers. They incinerate the Baron, and the young couple is saved.
THE BRAINIAC has now been relegated to the Golden Turkey pen of "so bad they're good" movies, but is in fact quite competent and entertaining, despite the dreadful dubbing and cuts made under Murray's supervision. The expressionistic cinematography makes the best of a series of studio-bound sets,
and the Brainiac himself is a no-budget marvel. Hairy and pointy-nosed, with menacing pincers, a pulsating head and that lethal forked tongue, he looks a bit like a Mexican folk-art demon. The goblet full of very real-looking brains, into which the Baron dips with a dainty, long-handled spoon,
adds a nasty touch to the otherwise rather silly goings-on. Oddly, several of the film's decoratively dressed female characters are introduced in terms of their intellectual accomplishments: Professor Pantoja's unfortunate daughter is a religious historian, and Vicki Contreras is a scientist.
Unfortunately, the English-language dubbing makes them sound like total airheads.
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- Review: This Mexican horror picture first appeared in the U.S. on TV, hollowly dubbed and re-edited under the supervision of Florida-based producer K. Gordon Murray, who specialized in retooling low-budget foreign pictures for U.S. niche markets. It has since beco… (more)