The Head (1959)
Starring: Horst Frank, Karin Kernke, Dieter Eppler, and Michel Simon
Director: Victor Trivas
Rating: Five of Ten Stars
When a scientific genius Dr. Able (Simon) suffers a heart attack, his psychopathic assistant Dr, Ood (Frank) decides to use his cutting-edge methods for preserving transplant organs to keep his head and brain alive--for SCIENCE! Ood then embarks on a project to put the beautiful head of a hunchbacked nurse (Kernke) on a matching beautiful body.
This German (dubbed into English) B-movie of horror and mad science has some themes in common with "The Brain That Wouldn't Die" (review here), but it tries to stay more scientifically grounded, and it avoids the unintentional comedy of that better-known film. It also generally features better cinematography and more moodily lit sets, making its chills more impactful.
Sadly, the film falls down over the fact that it is populated mostly with characters who are either dull or unlikable. I also had a strange feeling that we're supposed to feel empathy for the murderous Ood, despite the fact that he is utterly remorseful in is actions--although that could just be my reaction to the fact that Horst Frank has the strongest screen presence of any of the actors in the film.
This is not a film that I recommend going out of your way for, but if you see it in one of those multi-movie packs (like I did, in the Sci-Fi Invasion 50 Movie Collection) it's harmless filler.
Trivia: Victor Trivas's greatest claim to fame is that his directorial debut--"Hell on Earth" (1931)-- was outlawed by the Nazis in 1940, who attempted to destroy all prints. He was nominated for an Oscar for the script for Orson Welles' "The Stranger".