Trainsmissions to Earth: THE TRAIL OF THE SCREAMING FOREHEAD (2007)


Movie Review by L.L. Soares

Some of our regular readers might recognize the name Larry Blamire. He’s the guy who gave us such hilarious movies as THE LOST SKELETON OF CADAVRA (2001), THE LOST SKELETON RETURNS AGAIN (2009) and DARK AND STORMY NIGHT (also 2009). The original LOST SKELETON was probably enough to secure him a place in the Campy Movie Hall of Fame. A lot of people try to recreate the silly science fiction movies of the 1950s, and a lot of them use the whole “wink wink” style of humor that grates on my nerves. Blamire actually gets it right. He has amazing actors in his stuff who play it completely straight, and tons of in-jokes and dialogue that shows he’s a true fan of the genre he’s spoofing. No labored laughs here. Every laugh you get from a Blamire movie is earned. And if you love old Roger Corman monster flicks, then I can’t recommend Blamire highly enough.

TRAIL OF THE SCREAMING FOREHEAD (2007) is a movie I’ve wanted to see for years. Ever since artist Cortney Skinner (who created the terrific animated opening credits sequence) showed us a few scenes at a convention, I’ve been convinced this might just be Blamire’s masterpiece. Imagine my glee while scanning cable OnDemand recently and finding the movie for free on the FearNet channel? I finally got to watch the entire film. And I wasn’t disappointed.

What’s the plot? Well, it’s an alien invasion, folks. Except this time around, it’s not dudes with big heads and long fingers. This time, it’s foreheads. Yeah, you heard me right. Slabs of skin that inch around like inchworms and if they attach themselves to your forehead, then you’re their slave! The first victim we see is Amos (Daniel Roebuck), who runs a bed and breakfast place with his wife Sarah (Susan McConnell). Amos seems a little goofy in the head to begin with, so people don’t notice right away when he starts acting funny, and has a strange, oversized forehead. From here, the alien parasite looks for new victims to infect with its brethren.

Meanwhile, at the Institute For Brain Studying, Dr. Sheila Baxter (Fay Masterson) announces that she has discovered that human intellect does not reside in the brain, as everyone has thought, but that is actually originates in the human forehead! Her colleagues, especially her boss Dr. Applethorpe (H.M. Wynant)  laugh at her research, and Dr. Applethorpe threatens to fire her once her grant expires. But Dr. Philip Latham (Andrew Parks) stands by her, eager to help her prove her theory (actually, he’s probably more interested in being her sweetheart), even if it means becoming a human guinea pig. Dr. Latham agrees to let her begin a series of injections that will increase his level of a newly discovered hormone called foreheadazine to alarming rates.

Meanwhile, two seasoned seamen on leave decide to spend some time in town. They’re curious sorts. One is Big Dan Frater (Brian Howe), and the other is his sidekick Dutch “the Swede” Annacrombie (Dan Conroy). They’re the first ones to notice something odd is going on, when they book themselves into the bed and breakfast run by Amos and Sarah. Other residents at the inn include a librarian that Dutch gets sweet on named Millie Healey (Alison Martin), and the aforementioned Dr. Applethorpe (!). As more and more people start acting oddly, Dan and Dutch are determined to solve the mystery.

Also part of the picture are Nick Vassidine (Larry Blamire), a con man looking for an easy score, and his girlfriend Droxy Chapelle (Jennifer Blaire), who perpetually hang out at a dive bar where the bartender is Roger Corman regular (and B-movie icon) Dick Miller (who was the star of Corman’s A BUCKET OF BLOOD, 1959 and had smaller roles in dozens of others, including the original version of THE LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS, 1960)!

Also along for the ride as locals who get “possessed” by the aliens are a couple of familiar faces: Betty Garrett (who you might remember from 70s shows like ALL IN THE FAMILY and LAVERNE AND SHIRLEY) as Mrs. Cuttie and James Karen (TV and movie actor since the 60s, who you might have seen in such movies as FRANKENSTEIN MEETS THE SPACE MONSTER, 1965, Tobe Hooper’s remake of INVADERS FROM MARS, 1986, and David Lynch’s MULLHOLLAND DRIVE, 2011, as well as TV shows like DESIGNING WOMEN and THE GOLDEN GIRLS). There’s even a cameo by Kevin McCarthy from the original INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS (1956)!

So, while the alien foreheads continue unveiling their insidious plan to take over Earth, and Dan, Dutch and Millie seek to expose their actions, Dr. Baxter continues injecting Dr. Latham with foreheadazine, which makes his forehead bigger and bigger, until his entire head becomes one gigantic forehead and he acquires amazing mental powers!

Will Dr. Latham use his newfound powers to defeat the aliens? Well, for the answer to that, you’ll have to see TRAIL OF THE SCREAMING FOREHEAD! And if you do, chances are you’ll laugh as much as you gasp in awe at this tale of scientific horror!

I think the reason why Blamire’s movies work so well is because they have a strong sense of the innocence of the time period he is trying to emulate. Nobody does “homages” to goofy 1950s sci-fi flicks like he does. He is the undisputed king of this kind of stuff, and you can’t go wrong with his highly enjoyable (and very funny) films. And, right now, I think TRAIL OF THE SCREAMING FOREHEAD might just be my favorite of his movies. I hope it gets a proper US release on DVD soon!

© Copyright 2012 by L.L. Soares


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