The storyline features themes of alien possession and world domination by an alien named Gor. Another alien, Vol, has been sent to Earth to capture and return Gor to their home world.
An outer-space terrorist from a planet named Arous, a brain-shaped creature named Gor (Dale Tate) arrives on Earth and possesses young scientist Steve March (Agar). Gor then proceeds to use his vast, destructive powers to bend the planet to his will, threatening to wipe out the capital city of any nation that dares to defy him.
Meanwhile, Vol (Tate), another brain from Arous arrives, eventually inhabits the body of March's fiancee's dog. Vol then explains that Gor is a wanted criminal on their world. His only physical weakness is the Fissure of Rolando, and Gor is only vulnerable there during the brief period when he needs to exit his host to absorb oxygen.
The special effect for Agar's eyes was achieved by using special contact lenses lined with metal foil. These were used a decade later on actor Gary Lockwood during the second Star Trek TV series pilot episode "Where No Man Has Gone Before".
Stock footage of unoccupied houses being flash-incinerated in above ground atomic bomb tests was used to demonstrate Gor's psychic powers.
An alien interstellar policeman is pursuing a dangerous, space-faring criminal; both must slip into and possess the bodies of Earth lifeforms. This plot is similar to the classic science fiction novel Needle by Hal Clement that was first published in 1949 as a multi-part serial in Astounding Science Fiction magazine. The 1987 film The Hidden also shares similar story elements without being a direct adaptation of Clement's novel.
The Brain from Planet Arous currently holds a score of 20% ("Rotten") at the film review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, with an average rating of 3.6/10 based on 5 reviews.
Although its B-movie status gave it poor reviews upon its initial release, the film has since become a cult classic. It has been parodied on American television like the comedy series Malcolm in the Middle, which uses a segment of The Brain from Planet Arous as part of the opening credits. A clip was also used in the opening scene of the comedy film Ernest Scared Stupid as part of a collage of horror films. The Brain from Planet Arous is also featured in the film The Butcher Boy (1997), which is viewed by the main character at his local movie theater.
The voice clip:
"Your feeling of helplessness is your best friend savage"
from the film was used 1997 in the Jay Weinland track "Sound Stage Strut" as part of the Need for Speed II soundtrack. The same clip was used 2001 in Frank Klepacki track "Brain Freeze" as part of the Command & Conquer: Yuri's Revenge soundtrack together with another voice clip from the movie in the song "Drok". The credits track of the film House of the Dead 2 also used one voice clip as well as a TV Guide ad in 1991, which asked, "Were you watching this when the Beverly Hills 90210 Christmas special aired"?, prompting multiple viewers to respond that Brain from the Planet Arous was the better choice. The electronic musician Deadmau5 used the following voice sample from the film in his track "Moar Ghosts 'n' Stuff" from the album For Lack of a Better Name:
"After I'm gone, your earth will be free to live out its miserable span of existence, as one of my satellites, and that's how it's going to be"...
This sample was also used in 1997 by DJ Buzz Fuzz in the track "Jealousy (Is A M.F.)", which appeared on volume 17 of the Thunderdome series. This same sample has also been used by Swedish gothic metal band Tiamat in the track "Lucy" from a 1999 album Skeleton Skeletron, Norwegian gothic metal/Darkwave band The Crest in the song "In This Cage" from their debut 2002 album Letters from Fire, Alien Vampires track "You'll All Die", as well as Norwegian industrial metal band The Kovenant in the track "Acid Theatre" from a 2003 album SETI. It also has been used by Japanese musician Toshiyuki Kakuta (known by his DJ name as L.E.D.) in many of his original tracks for the Konami music game, Beatmania IIDX. It has even found its way into psychedelic trance, in the track "Shockwave" by Azax Syndrom. The line: "you must find strength", spoken by Vol, is used in the beginning of the Crossbreed song "Pure Energy", as well as in the Strapping Young Lad song "Decimator". Yoko Kanno also used the sample on the track "Autumn in Ganymede" composed for Cowboy Bebop. The KLF sample the line, "Your feeling of helplessness is your best friend, savage" on their album Chill Out. The song "Rule The Universe" by Bass Mekanik features the sample multiple times. Dubstep producer Datsik in his song "Light The Fuse" and Cigue band in their track "Dear Hatred" have also used the first part of this sample, "After I'm gone your Earth will be free to live out its miserable span of existence,". The sample of Gor's introduction has also been featured in various songs, including "Maid-san Para Para" by Pilko Minami and in L.E.D.'s remix of the Anubis Final Battle theme for the album Zone of the Enders ReMix Edition. In 2002 for their song "Perfekte Droge", from their album Herzwerk II the German band Megaherz. used Gor's laugh and a sample of:
"I have powers that equal and surpass the powers of Gor"...
The samples of speech from Brain from Planet Arous are available in Sony's royalty-free sample library pack, Methods of Mayhem: Industrial Toolkit.
The movie was the inspiration for the Zontar episode of SCTV. (source: SCTV Remember Part 2, DVD)