I received a request to review the infamously bad movie The Man Without A Body but I already did back in 2010. Here it is as an encore, but remember, you can always click here:

Man Without a BodyTHE MAN WITHOUT A BODY – (1957) – Category: A neglected bad movie classic that deserves a Plan 9-sized cult following      

Trying to follow the layer after layer of distorted logic in this film could drive you nuts. Taking the story from the top, we have THE George Coulouris (Mr Thatcher in Citizen Kane) playing a megalomaniacal 1950s tycoon named Karl Brussard. Brussard has a brain tumor, which the movie very tastelessly lets us know by the way he constantly thinks he hears phones ringing. Seriously. He’s always grabbing the phone  receiver and then slamming it down when there’s nobody on the line.

After his tumor is diagnosed, our tycoon, desperate to prolong his life, goes to a mad scientist, played by Robert Hutton from The Hideous Sun Demon. Hutton’s plan is to transplant a healthy brain into Brussard’s head to replace his ailing one.

Man without a body eyeballNow, in a movie operating within any  framework of logic (suspension of disbelief notwithstanding) that would mean we’d have the brain and mind of the  donor  controlling Brussard’s body, while all that was Brussard would still die when his brain does. Not so here! 

In this movie’s demented universe the brain would still have Brussard’s mind just because it is operating within Brussard’s body. (?!)

Using this line of thinking, if you put Keith Olbermann’s brain into George Will’s body that body would still act like George Will, just because that’s the body housing it. (Obviously this is just a hypothetical since neither Olbermann nor George Will has a brain.)

Okay, that’s just the first step into this film’s twisted mindset. Even if you buy into the preceding nonsense get ready for another curveball. Brussard decides the perfect brain donor would be none other than … Nostradamus. That’s right, not Criswell, who was at least still alive in the 1950s, but Nostra -freaking -damus! Why Brussard thinks any dead brain would work is beyond me, let alone one which would have decomposed centuries ago, along with the rest of the body.

Anyway, the ridiculous notion that Nostradamus’ long-dead body is as well-preserved as a freshly-dead corpse is proven correct in this deranged film, so Brussard hires a shady ex-doctor to travel to France, break into Nostradamus’ tomb and return with the dead man’s detached head.

Man without a body nostradamus headThis is accomplished and our mad scientist brings the head back to life. The head sits on the lab  table  allowing the revived Nostradamus to talk with our lead characters, looking like some kind of kitschy Nostradamus desktop-intercom. Our mad scientist now contradicts some of his earlier gibberish with new gibberish, claiming the donor brain will need convinced that it is really Brussard before it can be transplanted into his body.

This is attempted via the very scientific method of Brussard repeatedly telling the disembodied head that it is really Brussard while the head keeps asserting that it is really Nostradamus in a kind of ridiculous “Am not!” “Are, too!” type of exchange. Nostradamus shrewdly convinces Brussard to postpone  the transplantation since our revived seer’s powers of prognostication will tell him how the stock market will go, making Brussard even richer if he follows “Nostra’s” advice. 

Yes, the only reason the filmmakers have the reluctant brain donor be Nostradamus is to set up a double-cross so obvious even Jim Varney’s Ernest character would have seen it coming from a mile away!

man without a body plaster headBrussard is financially ruined, prompting him to shoot the disembodied head that led him astray and in the resulting illogical cast reactions that follow, Hutton’s mad scientist creates a monster from Nostra’s head and the body of the tycoon’s chauffer, Lou (who was being tempted into a dalliance by Brussard’s mistress Odette). The resultant monstrosity looks like the Mexican horror character the Brainiac with a plaster tv set on its head.

Other bits of fun in this neglected classic are the giant, moving eyeball on the wall of the mad scientist’s lab, the living, disembodied monkey heads on the table in that lab, the tycoon’s hammy femme fatale mistress, an actual line in the credits that says “Continuity by ‘Splinters’ Deason” (insert your own joke here) and the fact that the director was W Lee Wilder, the brother of the one and only Billy Wilder! (Take that, nature vs nurture!)

By the way, I don’t know what was up with bad movies and Nostradamus. There was also a Mexican serial in which a descendant of the alleged prophet came back to life as a vampire who needed to be hunted down and destroyed, Dracula-style.

© Edward Wozniak and Balladeer’s Blog, 2010. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Edward Wozniak and Balladeer’s Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content. 


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