The Brain Eaters (1958)

I suppose you’ve got to expect a little brain eating activity when you live in a quiet little town like Riverdale, Illinois. Though grossly under-reported by our traitorous liberal media, the War on Terror has been fought in one horse hamlets like Riverdale for decades! Alien invasions, body snatchings, gigantic insects, arachnids, animals, unnatural swarms of same, ghosts, regular old serial killers, cults, periodic appearance by Satan and/or his minions, and biker gangs all routinely take their shots at taking everything good and clean about this country and making it a big steaming heap of evil poop soup!

At first blush, it all seems a little bit on the hokey side. If there’s to be a big takeover by some monstrous group, why would they mess with Toejam, North Dakota? Does it really matter if they can outsmart the local sheriff, the local college professor and his plucky and purty gal pal assistant? Well, heck yeah, pardner! The forces of darkness aren’t total boobs! Haven’t you ever heard of the dry-run-through?

Think about it. If you’re only a saucer full of bug-eyed extremists from the planet Turdburglar VI, are you going to be dumb enough to roll up on New York City and expect to take over millions of crabby people with annoying accents? Those big city types will stab one another if they get bored waiting for the subway! Can you imagine how some gooey bluish-green monster with a big slimy head and claws would fare if he was prancing around Hell’s Kitchen blabbering on about enslaving our race? That sumbuck would be getting hosed down the sewer grate by next morning!

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Small towns though take things at an easier pace. When you’ve got people you’ve known all your life who suddenly start acting different and display little emotion, you just chalk it up to worrying about getting the crops in or just being preoccupied with the big game against East Bilgewater on Friday night. Shoot, I’ve been there – back when I was leading my high school football team to its customary district championship back in ’89, I only had time for football, drinking, cheerleaders, partying, bullying nerds, and pranking teachers. Winners by definition have a one track mind.

Besides, if an invading force can’t take out some dink ass outpost in middle America, they aren’t really ready for the big time anyway. It’s a strategy followed by any number of enemy combatants. Remember Earth Vs. The Spider? Didn’t live up to the title did it? That spider didn’t end up taking on anyone but a sheriff, a high school science teacher and some guys from town too dumb to get out of giant spider killing duty.

Contrast that with the big grasshopper invasion of ’57 in Beginning of the End. Once those grasshoppers realized that eating up small Illinois towns was no big whup, it was off to take a shot at the title in the Windy City. They ended up taking a permanent swim in Lake Michigan, but the only thing that stopped them from completely conquering Chicago was Peter Graves playing the Pied Piper. How do you defend against that?

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So it is that the Brain Eaters descend on Riverdale to try out their world take over scheme. The Brain Eaters were parasites that looked like fuzzy dog crap with feelers and they attached themselves to their victim’s neck taking over his or her body. If you removed a Brain Eater from a person, an acid would be released killing the victim and leaving the Brain Eater in search of another host.

They seemed to be behind the eight ball right from the beginning though since they required people to carry them around in water filled gold fish bowls. This set up led to guys wandering around carrying gold fish bowls under towels on the city streets and such. I couldn’t help but thinking that the Pod People from Invasion Of The Body Snatchers had a much better gimmick: You fall asleep, a pod person takes your place and you die. Seems to have a lot more potential that guys walking into Congress with jars under their arms and heaving wet parasites at our leaders.

I also wasn’t terribly impressed with the Brain Eaters plans for world domination. They had control of some of the townspeople, but when you’re breaking into the room of the scientist’s girlfriend and letting loose a Brain Eater in her bed, I’m thinking that your strategy seems to be more of the “in your face, you nosy scientist!” variety than anything else.

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The Brain Eaters didn’t really exert much in the way of a coherent plan to neutralize the people actively fighting them either. I think one of them tried to trap a few humans in a house and burn it down and then there was the time toward the end of the movie when the Brain Eaters finally decided that the cops and scientists that had been camped out at their hideout for practically the entire movie should maybe be shot, but if you can’t even muster a showdown in town, I think the National Guard can go ahead and sit this one out.

When you consider the caliber of people the Brain Eaters were up against, you also can’t help but think this Brain Eater invasion was stillborn as soon as it was ripped off from Robert Heinlein’s The Puppet Masters. Our star scientist investigates the mysterious metal cone that appears in the forest by firing his six shooter into it and listening to the ricochet before his associate pronounces something or other about what the sound meant. The scientist also spends all day crawling around in it before climbing back out and announcing that it’s just tunnels spiraling here and there. Yet at the end of the movie he goes into it and meets with Leonard Nimoy in a smoke-filled room to have an exposition-laden confrontation.

You may think it’s a must see due to Mr. Spock being decked out in long, flowing white robes and big white beard like he was Gandalf the Parasite or something, but by the time some harpoon guns borrowed from the local electric company put an end to this business, you’ll be checking the back of your neck for a pair of telltale puncture wounds.

© 2013 MonsterHunter

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