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  Brainiac, The Baron Speak With Forked TongueBuy this film here.
Year: 1962
Director: Chano Urueta
Stars: Abel Salazar, Ariadna Welter, David Silva, Germán Robles, Luis Aragón, Mauricio Garcés, Ofelia Guilmáin, René Cardona, Rubén Rojo, Carlos Nieto, Carlota Solares, Federico Curiel, Magda Donato, Magda Urvizu, Miguel Brillas, Rosa María Gallardo
Genre: Horror
Rating:  6 (from 2 votes)
Review: Way, way back in 1661 the Spanish Inquisition was in full flight and one of the victims was Baron Vitelius d'Estera (Abel Salazar) who had been accused of witchcraft. He was tortured to make him confess, but laughed through the supposed ordeal, and when he went to trial he was equally amused by the court who condemned him to burn at the stake. This could have been why he was able to place a curse on those who sent him to his doom, one which echoed down the ages to modern times, coinciding with the reappearance of a comet three hundred years later...

Of all the Mexican horror movies snapped up by American movie producer K. Gordon Murray and dubbed into English for a wider audience, The Brainiac, or El barón del terror as it was known originally, was perhaps the most notorious. Much of that could be laid at the door of the more enthusiastic attempts at chilling the audience's blood in their veins, so while it was not hugely gory, it was unmistakably bizarre in its villain and the manner of dispatching his victims he found in modern day (for the early sixties) Mexico as the Baron sought out the descendants of those who had executed him all those centuries ago.

Quite why he didn't use his magic powers to escape in the first place is none too clear - he transfers the balls and chain he is attached to onto the ankles of two of the guards after all - but if he'd done so we would have had a more expensive period setting for our horrors. What we got was the Baron returning to Earth on that comet and taking human form... er, well he already had that originally, but for some reason all those years in exile had reduced his features to monstrous proportions, with a pulsating head, claws for hands and most strikingly a long, forked tongue. Which comes in handy for bumping off those descendants, a task he performs with indecent gusto.

So what he does turns out to be repetitive, but the film's ace up its sleeve, as he grabs the hapless cast member of choice after getting a curious look in his eye (and a flashing light in his face) and shifting from the handsome older gentleman of Salazar (also the producer here, and a familiar figure from Mexploitation) to this unholy creature, whereupon that tongue attaches itself to the base of their skulls and they get their brain sucked out. Sort of a Mexican Fiend without a Face, then, and if it didn't overdo it with the gore, there was something very odd about the enthusiasm it went through every time they wanted the Baron to get his revenge; it's little wonder this stuck in so many minds.

Our hero was the young astronomer whose forefather was the sole person to stand up for the Baron, so we assume he's safe, except his girlfriend's forefather was not quite so forward-looking and her brain is on the menu. In the meantime a police inspector and his comedy sidekick track down the killer, suitably baffled by his modus operandi as he arranged polite social gatherings to size up his next meal - he even takes the time to munch daintily on spoonfuls of brain as it were his secret stash of Turkish delight. Yes, once you'd seen one actor or actress get de-brained you'd pretty much seen them all, but such was the novelty of these scenes that they didn't get boring, especially as they were presented with such straightfaced sobriety, and there was always the added bonus of such sights as a man drowned standing on his head in his bathtub to ensure that monotony did not predominate. Add a flamethrower climax and you had a very strange, if brief, vintage shocker. Music by Gustavo César Carrión.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark


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