Friday Night At The Home Drive-In: The Brain Eaters (1958)

Poster for The Brain Eaters (1958)The Brain Eaters (1958) by #BrunoVeSota
#EdNelson #JodyFair #LeonardNimoy

Parasites from the centre of the earth take control of people’s minds.

“Crawling, slimy things terror-bent on destroying the world!”

“What are the parasites, where do they come from, what do they want from us?”

#Horror #SciFi

It’s been a long week, and I’ve barely had enough sleep. I feel like the brain eaters have gotten to me. And what I mean by that, is that I feel like my brain is gone, or mostly gone, or not functioning properly. That’s what I would expect the brain eaters to do to a person; literally eat their brains. The brain eaters in The Brain Eaters (1958), however, don’t seem to do that. No, they seem to take control of the person’s brain, and by doing so, take control of their body. So, shouldn’t the movie be called The Brain Controllers, or The Body Controllers, or… something like that? 

After the movie was released, science fiction author Robert A. Heinlein apparently sued the producers for $150,000.00. He felt that The Brain Eaters was based on his novel The Puppet Masters (now that’s a title that makes more sense!). I must admit that as I was watching The Brain Eaters for the first time, I found myself thinking it seemed a lot like The Puppet Masters or The Body Snatchers by Jack Finney. It seems to me I heard that Robert A. Heinlein accused Jack Finney of ripping off his book as well… or maybe that was just other critics… In any case, it’s safe to say that Robert A. Heinlein influenced a lot of other people. 

Roger Corman insisted that he was unfamiliar with Robert A. Heinlein’s work, but when he read The Puppet Masters, he offered to settle out of court for $5000.00. Robert A. Heinlein took it, but only after Corman promised not to give him any on-screen credit in The Brain Eaters. He felt (and rightly so) that it was a tad inferior to his novel. 

I have no doubt that Roger Corman had nothing to do with ripping off Robert A. Heinlein’s novel. He only came on board the project after the script had been written by a guy named Gordon Urquhart, whose only other credits are two acting roles (in Female Jungle (1955) and a lost TV show called Chicagoland Mystery Players (1949–1950)). But I love the fact that Corman was able to talk Robert A. Heinlein down from $150,000.00 to $5,000.00. $150,000.00 would have been more than five times the budget of the entire movie. It reminds me of another incident involving Roger Corman and the Hell’s Angels motorcycle club – but that’s another story.

The Brain Eaters (1958) is a lesser known, not so revered example of #NotQuiteClassicCinema. It has a few moments of inspired lunacy, but it’s mostly pretty bad – which means it’s also pretty good (if you know what I mean). At barely over an hour, it’s pretty easy to sit though. It was originally sent out as part of a double bill, sometimes with Earth vs. the Spider (1958) – which I wrote about a while back – and sometimes with Terror from the Year 5000 (1958) – which I’ve never seen. I like Earth vs. the Spider better than this one, but I suspect The Brain Eaters is better than Terror from the Year 5000. I suppose I’ll have to track that one down and watch it to find out… perhaps next #FridayNightAtTheHomeDriveIn.

2 thoughts on “Friday Night At The Home Drive-In: The Brain Eaters (1958)

  1. Pingback: Friday Night At The Home Drive-In: Terror from the Year 5000 (1958) | 100% Certified Angus Kohm

  2. Pingback: Friday Night At The Home Drive-In: Kronos (1957) | 100% Certified Angus Kohm

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