Scientists take up guns

Scientists in film and TV are a collection of characters who lack variety.

Usually they are messing around with things they should and bad things happen, think about each and every mad scientist from The Fly’s Seth Brundle to Fringe’s Walter Bishop. Or they are bumbling and bad things happen, think about Honey I Shrunk the Kids’ Wayne Szalinski and Back to the Future’s Doc Brown. They cause problems and need help returning order to the world. I mean, Doc Brown invents a time machine but needs a high school kid to help him resolve issues of time dilation and quantum paradoxes (I have no idea what that means).

This was not always the case. In the black and white films of the 1940s and 1950s there is a different type of scientist. A scientist who takes up a gun and solves problems with a brains and brawn.Brain Eaters

In the 1958 film, the Brain Eaters, the action hero is Dr Paul Kettering, a scientist with a gun. He climbs willfully into the unknown body of a cone. He fist fights and shoots infected cops without hesitation. He is a pipe smoking leader of men taking charge over the major’s son, a senator and a white haired scientist. He puts together plans, saves lives and kicks ass along the way. He has a girlfriend (Alice, the Major’s assistant) and makes the hard choices without hesitation.

Admittedly the 1940s and 1950s produced a different type of film, but what happened to characters like Dr Kettering? Somewhere along the line he turned into Professor Donald Kessler (Pierce Brosnan’s character in Mars Attacks!) and the fate of the planet was put into the hands of teenagers like Marty McFly.

Watch The Brain Eaters on Youtube.


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