Narratives of the Horror genre center around five basic fears. The Brain from Planet Arous is a good film that exploits one of those fears: the far of loss of autonomy. Autonomy is the freedom from external forces. It comes from two Greek words literally meaning ‘self law’. It’s our ability to make rational decisions without outside influences coercing us. When we look at judging actions morally, autonomy is a large consideration. According to philosopher Emanuel Kant, an autonomous person does good simply for the sake of doing good without other incentives coming into play. Autonomy crosses over politics as well as our health considerations. That’s why many people have a living will. Even in the face of brain death, they want the autonomy to decide what happens to them.
The horror genre is a great place to exploit this particular fear because none of us feels good about losing control of ourselves, whether it’s emotionally, mentally, or even physically. That’s why vampire and zombie moves scare us. It’s why home invasion movies scare us. It’s also why The Brain from Planet Arous (as ridiculous as it is to watch today) is still a scary movie in concept. This movie came out a year after the greatest movie about our loss of physical autonomy ever: The Invasion of the Body Snatchers. And while this movie is a bi ridiculous I n its execution (…I mean come on…a big floating brain with glowing eyes?), it touches on more than just a loss of physical autonomy. This villain from another planet is threatening the autonomy of our very world…neigh…OUR UNIVERSE! hehehe
It’s a universal fear for sure. Even from childhood, we hate being told what to do. As teenagers, we hate being told what time to be home or the controlling influences of peer pressure. As adults, we want to be our own bosses. So imagine being told that a giant brain has taken over the United Nations and is demanding the human race to become slave labor in order to build some rocket ships that will take Gor (the Evil Alien Brain’s name) back to his home planet so he can take it over. That would be something to fear! J