23 January 2003 | Infofreak
Interesting remake of b-grade horror classic 'Donovan's Brain' with a different approach - a mystery thriller with noir touches.
While 'Donovan's Brain' wasn't the first movie version of Curt Siodmak's sci fi shocker, it is by far the best known and best remembered of the three adaptations (so far). As a corny but entertaining b-grade movie it is hard to beat, and wonderful fun. 'The Brain', an overlooked German/English remake, doesn't try to outdo it, it instead approaches the source material in a very different way. The sensationalistic thrills and mind control horror of the 1953 movie are replaced by a calmer, more atmospheric style which adds a mystery element not seen in the earlier version. The basic premise is the same (though the names have been changed). This time around the scientist experimenting with keeping monkey's brains alive outside the body is played by Peter van Eyck ('Wages Of Fear'). He is assisted by his beautiful wife (well, I think it's his wife) Ella (Ellen Schwiers, who is positively stunning, and a lot easier on the eye than Nancy Davis!), and his trustworthy alcoholic sidekick (Bernard Lee, 'M' of James Bond fame). Once again a plane crashes nearby and the sole survivor is taken back to their lab. Once again the man cannot be saved but the scientist decides to keep his brain. As in 'Donovan's Brain' the brain survives and begins to exert control over the scientist. But it isn't in the same way, it is much subtler, and instead of domination, the brain wants something else - justice. For in 'The Brain' the millionaire has been murdered, and most of his family and associates are suspects. This interesting twist, plus the superior cast, makes this movie a rarity - a worthwhile remake. However, I wouldn't go so far as to say it surpasses the earlier movie. It is less silly and more intelligent, but not necessarily more entertaining. I enjoy both movies in different ways, and recommend them both.