The Brain Eaters – B Movie Challenge

Sometimes watching movies can give me a real headache! I mean one of those whopper migraines where you can’t open your eyes (and you might not want to, depending on the film). They say these occur from nerve endings reacting to stress, certain foods or odors, or the use of medicines, which makes me feel like all the doctors, scientists, and trusted elected officials (yeah, right!) suffered quite a few migraines trying to figure out why their brains were being taken over by glowing orb parasites in the science fiction (nowhere near fact) cheapo classic The Brain Eaters.

I will absolutely give the filmmakers credit for doing a rather okay (meh) job producing suspense on a shoestring budget, but unfortunately, when you are skimping on a low-budget alien horror flicker, you might want to cut the budget at the craft services table before the actual aliens! Throughout the film, our scientists (I wouldn’t trust them with my prescription for IBprophion)  are dealing with little brain eaters who… well, they can’t really see. Not because this advanced race of intelligent creatures has cloaking capabilities, but merely because it was faster and cheaper to splatter on two small puncture holes on the back of actors’ (more like cousins and friends of friends) heads! However, for a small independent film of this time period that would go in and out of a drive-in on the same night, cinematographer Lawrence Raimond certainly has fun giving us creative angles and proper lighting, particularly the glowing orbs depleting peoples’ noggins. 

During the height of the Cold War, 50s political idealism, and the all-American-do attitude, our hero scientists (I’m not sure what degree they received, but it sure wasn’t an MFA in acting) find a tall triangular pod in the middle of a park. Strange occurrences begin to happen and within several hours the United States government responds (now you know this is science fiction). It appears little creature-like caterpillars (more like dog fur they yanked off a brush) have been experimenting with different creatures’ minds and have found humans are the best hosts to control their craniums.

Turns out the aliens are really petty, jealous teenage brats who feel we, the human race, have taken the gift of a beautiful planet for granted (they may not be too far off). Of course, instead of hearing them out and learning from our ways, in the end, we blow their ship up and shoot them full of holes, thus saving the planet for us to keep it in strife (God bless the U.S.A)!

Piercing your scalp at a mind-numbing sixty minutes, and directed by Bruno VeSota (who directed other classics like Female Jungle and Invasion of the Star Creatures), the filmmakers were sued by novelist Robert K. Heinlein because it was too similar to his book The Puppet Masters. The case was settled out of court and Heinlein’s name was removed from the credits (at least he had the smarts). You can find this film on most streaming sites, like Tubi and YouTube, and be sure to spot Leonard (Spock) Nimoy in one of his earliest roles (I’m sure he led every audition with this credit). So pop a few generic acetylsalicylic acid pills, roast up some free-range egg sauce mixed with a little watermelon juice, and free your mind of any distractions… unless you see a caterpillar on your TV screen!

About Ian Klink

As a filmmaker, writer, and artist, Ian Klink’s work includes the feature film Anybody’s Blues and short stories for Weren't Another Way to Be: Outlaw Fiction Inspired by Waylon Jennings, Negative Creep: A Nirvana-Inspired Anthology, A-Z of Horror: U is for Unexplained, The Creeps, Vampiress Carmilla, The Siren’s Call, and Chilling Tales For Dark Nights. Born and raised in Iowa, Klink lives with his family in Pennsylvania where he shares his talents as a teacher of multimedia studies.

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