In 1661 Mexico, the Baron Vitelius of Astara is burned alive by the Holy Inquisition of Mexico for witchcraft, necromancy and other crimes. With his dying breath the Baron swears vengeance against the Inquisitors' descendants. Three centuries later, a comet that was passing overhead on the night of the Baron's execution returns to earth, brigning with it the Baron... now a horrible brain-eating monster that destroys the Inquisitor's descendants one by one.
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The story begins in the year 1661 as we see a man named Baron Vitelius, played by Salazar (who, by the way, also originally produced this film), brought before the Spanish Inquisition for the crimes of heresy, witchcraft, necromancy, conjurations, dogmatizing, and seduction, to name a few (in the words of the immortal John Winger, played by Bill Murray, from the 1981 film Stripes, `I want to party with you, cowboy'). Anyway, it appears the Baron had been previously sentenced to torment, but it had little or no effect as he pretty much just laughed it all off, so now he's condemned to be burned alive. As the fire builds a comet zips through the sky and the Baron proclaims an oath of vengeance on the descendants of those involved (does anyone know why they dressed him up like the pope before they burned him?). Cut to 300 years later...we meet Ronnie (Rojo) and Victoria (Gallardo), a young couple, both astronomy students under the tutelage of Prof. Milan (Aragón). All three are in the observatory talking shop (there's a whole lot of comet hibbity jibbity), and the professor reveals his prediction that, according to his calculations, a comet will pass soon, and it does, dropping off a strange hunk of crystal, in a remote area, that releases a demon-like creature who kills a passerby and steals his clothes. Turns out the devil creature from the sky is Baron Vitelius, coming back to make good on his 300 year old proclamation. After a period of getting his stuff together, he has a party at his posh new digs, one where he invites the descendants of all those who gave him the royal screwgee so many years ago, apparently in a effort to meet them face to face. Not long after the party, various guests begin suffering from a terminal case of death, caused by having their brains sucked out (he craves their delicious cephalic juice). The police are baffled (which was certainly no great feat, from what I could tell) as the Baron begins settling the hash of those whose ancestors had a hand in his previous condemnation. Oh, by the way, did I mention both Ronnie and Victoria are among those whose ancestors the Baron vowed revenge against?
I did like a number of things about this film, but three stars is the absolute highest I can go because overall the film felt like it was just so dang slow, despite its 77 minute running time. You know, one of the main problems I have with these `I'll come back and get your descendants' revenge stories is by the time the antagonist comes back, those directly responsible for his/her demise (or whatever) are long gone, so all that's left are some distant relatives who generally have not clue one what their ancestors did so long ago, and can't even begin to appreciate why they're now being targeted. The creature in this film often confronts and relates this information to his victims, but usually they're too freaked out by his appearance to comprehend what he's saying, much less the intent behind his murderous rage...in the end, it just seemed like a wasted effort on the Baron's part. By the way, the creature get up (a rubber mask and rubber claws for hands) is particularly craptacular here...did it appear the guy wearing the monster mask was having breathing problems? I noticed the mask seemed to inflate and deflate and I couldn't help wonder if it was due to a lack of air holes. That whole retractable tongue thing was kinda cool, and the idea of the creature sucking brains very creepy, but what was the creepiest of all was when the Baron was in human form, and how he would often sample from a large, ornate cup containing numerous human brains, much like you or I might enjoy a shrimp cocktail, only his wasn't refrigerated but kept in a trunk (what's the expiration date on brains?). One thing's for sure, the Baron sure seems to like the ladies...I especially liked how he would hypnotize (effect created by the Baron staring forward while someone off screen flashed a light in his face...oooh, witness his strange powers) the men into a motionless position, proceed to smack lips with their women while the hypnotized men were forced to watch, and then kill them both. Does anyone know why that one male victim was found in a running shower, in his underwear, standing on his head? The film does finally come to a close, an especially abrupt one...did anyone else who's seen the film question why those cops showed up when they did, and with those weapons in particular? I tried to hash it out, and I supposed they could have deduced something from their investigations, but these guys weren't all that bright (especially the dopey comic relief), so it seemed like a real stretch...but whatever...
The full screen picture featured on this release is relatively decent, but does suffer from time to time from either poor transfer or age deterioration. I noticed Something Weird released this film as a double feature with another Mexican film called Witch's Mirror (1962), so perhaps there is a better quality print out there. The audio was about as good as the video, as the whole thing is dubbed and sounds a lot like the dubbing done for those Japanese films brought over around the same time. There are no special features here, and I feel compelled to mention the artwork on the DVD case here is probably the worst I've ever seen. Thanks for the effort guys...
Quick cut forward 300 years and a passing comet spews out a rock, which morphs into something that growls like a purring lion, hisses like a viper, and looks like a hairy cross between a forked-tongue mosquito and Morey Amsterdam.
BRAINIAC (El Barón del terror) is a moderately awful 1962 horror flick from Mexico. Baron Vitelius circa 1961 is a suave nobleman, ingratiating himself with the descendants of his accusers so that he may cloud their minds (I think the lights flashing on his eyes meant he was mind clouding - in any event, lights flash and men freeze and women pucker up.) The forked tongue, which seems to be made of felt, is used to poke holes in the mind-clouded victims' skull so Vitelius may suck out their brains. The brains are kept in a silver serving bowl, from which Vitelius eats the gooey encephalous matter like a gourmet gobbling tapioca.
BRAINIAC is incredibly silly and predictable and boring. The transfer print is decent, although some reel ends seem a little frayed and tattered. Connoisseurs of cheesy horror movies from the fifties and sixties might enjoy this one more than I did, but probably not much more.
P.S.: All Casa Negra DVDs are worth getting. All are excellent quality. Too bad they are not releasing any movies to DVD at this time.
The premise is that in 1661 this guy, Baron Vitelius of Astara, was burned as part of the Inquisition in "New Spain" (Mexico), and he vows revenge on the descendents of those who wrongfully executed him in 300 years, when the comet that was overhead at the time of the execution returns. We know he is serious, because he appears to have ill defined magical powers, including the power of invisibility, which for some reason he does not use to escape the fire.
In 1961, right on schedule, the comet returns, the Baron riding along with it, only now he is the Brainiac, a monster who must eat human brains. The comet needs an aside here: never before has a comet looked this hokey in all of film history (you simply must see this for yourself), and secondly, the comet lands (!) by gently dropping to the ground with a thud. It appears to be papier-mache. No smoke, no crater, nothing. Then Brainiac gets out. Amazing.
Brainiac is able to transform himself into a suave Baron who eats brains out of a casserole dish after he removes them (intact, somehow) from his victims skulls using his tubular, bifurcated tongue while in his Brainiac form. After we meet the Brainiac we get to a long monologue that was not dubbed into English, so perhaps it was a great scene, but somehow I doubt it. In the end he succeeds in killing the descendants of his old rivals and meets his own demise, oddly enough through the genius of special effects, in his underwear.
The special effects throughout this film are delightfully bad, and none is worse than the puffy, hyperventilating Brainiac himself with his rubber forked tongue and hairy hooves that he uses like big, hairy tweezers.
This movie is so bad you almost feel sorry for it. It is un-scary and tedious, yet pompous, pretentious, and so badly executed that like a train wreck, it is impossible to look away.