Reporter’s Revenge

Sometimes, even the cheesiest ’50s sci-fi can benefit from some snappy writing. Cast in point gleaned while watching a two-fer DVD of The Giant Claw and The Creature With the Atom Brain. The former features lame special effects—a flying turkey pupper—and pedestrian dialogue. The Creature With the Atom Brain, however, thanks to some attention from screenwriter Curt Siodmak (who did the poetic I Walked With a Zombie for Val Lewton; and whose brother, Robert, directed the seminal noirs The Killers and Criss Cross), manages to enliven its impossible premise—remote-controlled zombies do the bidding of an aggrieved gangster—with some well-honed dialogue. My favorite moment: After a scientist reveals the sinister plan to some disbelieving reporters who think they are been mocked, one of the scribes quips, “Just for that, doc, I’m going to misspell your name.” A newspaperman’s revenge—as potent as a zombie’s blow. (You can see the trailer on YouTube if you don’e mind having your person info sent directly to Viacom.)

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