Atomic Brain Invasion Reviewed by The Killing Boxx
Grab yourself a peanut butter and ‘nana sandwidge and prepare to go back in time!
Atomic Brain Invasion defies all laws of gravity, logic, and reason in order to take you back , back to a time when babes were Bettie’s and intergalactic bad guys were as common as Elvis Presley songs on the radio. Dig out Mom’s poodle skirt and grease yourself with pomade, Director Richard Griffin is your date to the sock hop with his latest film, Atomic Brain Invasion!
As a pop culture commentator I see more films every year than any ten people combined. As time goes by I occasionally find myself in a rut. Jaded by peeping too much garbage I find myself falling into a trap many film critics get stuck in, a sticky flypaper corner, trapped by my own ideas and wallowing in snot. I despise the word critic, a word best defined by Theodore Roosevelt: “It behooves every man to remember that the work of the critic is of altogether secondary importance, and that, in the end, progress is accomplished by the man who does things”. Wise words from an intelligent man, words I try to remember when evaluating other peoples art. Bearing that in mind I am always relieved when a new Griffin joint comes my way because I expect quality, and quality is the standard Mr. Griffin always delivers.
For those of you familiar with Richard Griffin’s films, (Nun Of That, Pretty Dead Things, Beyond The Dunwich Horror, Splatter Disco etc..), Atomic Brain Invasion is probably already on your radar and at the top of your wish list. For those of you unfamiliar with this director’s canon, get with the program! You are missing out on some of the finest independent genre filmmaking happening today. Filled with references to classic pop culture icons and featuring excellent ensemble work from his talented troupe of go to thespians, Griffin’s films are unique and more fun than a barrel full of puss spewing brain beasts from planet X.
Atomic Brain Invasion is reminiscent of Invaders from Mars, Beach Blanket Bingo, and innumerable others from the same time. Add to this, a touch of sass from the King of snark, John Waters, and what you get is, hands down, one of the best films this year. Don’t pay any attention to my comparisons though, we “critics” often resort to lame descriptive references added to disguise our inability to assess original work. Griffin wears his influences on his sleeve, never trying to hide his beautifully plagiarized homages to his favorite films. Because of this honesty, he always delivers productions above and beyond expectation.
Set in the director’s native New England, Invasion opens as many fifties sci-fi flicks often did, with a smartly dressed commentator setting the stage for the action to follow. The set up introduces the audience to a group of high school students who suddenly find themselves faced with a menace from outer space, a nefarious galactic menace hell bent on kidnapping the King of rock ‘n roll, Elvis “the pelvis” Presley (Brandon Luis Aponte)! These cantankerous creatures of cerebral countenance will stop at nothing to achieve their heinous goal. It is up to the students to make sure the King is saved, and maybe even find time for a little romance as well!
The romance is supplied via Director Griffin’s favorite muse, actress Sarah Nicklin. Nicklin has starred or featured prominently in a majority of Scorpio Film’s productions and here does so once again, and for obvious reasons. Possessed with undeniable screen presence she easily stands out in a crowd, if you have seen Nun Of That, no further explanation is necessary! Here, she takes center stage as ‘Betty’, a brainy beauty whose affections are a bone of contention between co-stars David Lavallee, Jr. as nerdy ‘Sherman’, and Michael Reed as local greaser ‘Lukas’.
There are many stand out performances, too many to make mention of them all, but everyone will get a kick out of Brandon Luis Aponte’s take on ‘Elvis’, and Daniel Lee White who turns in a show stealing turn as dorky ‘Kevin’! Lavallee displays excellent comic timing and is hilarious in a dance sequence taking place in a local diner. Reed as Sherman’s nemesis provides a great foil who hides artistic aspirations behind his tough guy exterior. There isn’t any nudity in the picture but have no fear, the eye candy is everywhere, from drop dead gorgeous Ruth Sullivan as space babe ‘Siobahn’, to Alexandra Cipolla as Betty’s dim friend ‘Raven’!
In short, this bad boy has it all and flaunts it like a Port Authority hooker at a Shriner convention. If you like it hard and fast, but want to be able to include younger members of the family, Atomic Brain Invasion serves it up fresh without ever resorting to shock tactics to make a point. This, more than anything else, is testament to the films director, who like the above mentioned John Waters, possesses the distinct ability to challenge the status quo without ever resorting to coloring outside the lines.