“The body is gone…but The Head lives on!” That’s what brought them out in theaters in 1960 to see this on a double bill with The City of the Dead, I guess. What they got was a German film — originally known as Die Nackte und der Satan (The Naked and the Satan) — redubbed and made ready for American viewing.
A scientist named Professor Dr. Abel (Michel Simon) — and if you need two titles like that then yes, you are a genius — has invented a serum that keeps a dog’s head alive even after the body has died. So when he dies, his assistant (Horst Frank, The Dead Are Alive) cuts off his head and keeps it alive so that he can give the hunchbacked nurse a new body. Hijinks ensue.
Someone should have made a movie of the life of Simon. The son of a Catholic sausage maker and a Protestant housewife, he left home at an early age, living on the streets and giving boxing lessons for money before becoming a clown, an acrobat and a Swiss soldier before applying his bizarre looks to a life as an actor. He was also the man who tried out the new call girls for France’s most elite brothel owner, Madame Claude, as well as being the owner of one of the world’s foremost collections of erotica, housed within a weed-covered home that was interconnected by tunnels and patrolled by an army of pet monkeys.
At the time of making this, Simon had had the left side of his face and most of his body paralyzed after a bad reaction to some stage makeup. He needed money and wanted to work, but didn’t want many to know just how bad he was. The producers of this film assured him it would only play in Germany, yet it ended up playing all over the world. Luckily, he’d recover and end up being in plenty of plays and movies afterward.
Now what can we do about fixing up Professor Dr. Abel with Jan Compton?
You can watch this Trans-Lux Release public domain ditty on Tubi and YouTube.