LAS RATAS NO DUERMEN DE NOCHE (1973)
Article 4018 by Dave Sindelar
Directed by Juan Fortuny
Featuring Paul Naschy, Silvia Solar, Olivier Mathot
Country: Spain / France
What it is: Scrambled brains movie
When a gangster is shot in the head during a heist, his henchmen take him to a brain specialist to fix him up. The specialist can’t help him without a brain transplant, and the henchmen decide to use the brain of the gangster’s arch enemy, another gangster known as the Sadist. However, which brain will prove the more powerful…?
Paul Naschy films usually have a classic horror point of reference to them, and this one digs into one of the lesser subgenres of the thirties and forties in which two minds end up occupying the same body, with a resulting personality clash; BLACK FRIDAY is perhaps the most famous of these movies. Usually these movies provide a plumb acting role for one actor, which is whoever is playing the recipient of the brain transplant, and, of course, it’s Naschy here. Given Naschy’s penchant for roles in which he plays both the hero and the villain, you’d think this one would give him another opportunity in that regard. However, since he’s a gangster to begin with, it’s hardly that big a change of personality for him to get another gangster’s brain. Furthermore, the script simply doesn’t give him any leeway to produce a great performance; we barely get to know him before he’s shot, and he spends almost the entire first half of the movie in a coma. In fact, he ends up with less screen time than most of the other major characters, so the acting challenges are pretty slim for him here. Granted, I’m not sure I’d be able to tell with the English language version I saw; the dubbing is particularly bad. It’s not so much the lip-syncing that is horrendous; it’s the choice of character voices that is badly done, with too many of the criminals sounding like whiny, scared children. The movie’s biggest problem, though, is simply that it takes forever to get going; the movie is tiresomely talky until things start moving in the last twenty minutes, and the talk is obvious and uninteresting. No, this is not one of Naschy’s better efforts.