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|Index||58 reviews in total|
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I first saw this movie in the early sixties on a double bill with The Haunted Strangler. Being a young lad, I was not paying attention to the details of the movie, but rather was impressed with the overall "spookyness" (is that a word)? Anyway, I remember the contrail of the B-52(sometimes a B-47 was used, who would notice)flying high overhead during the radar experiment. For some reason, I always thought of this as being some type of alien craft circling high overhead, ready to rain crawling, slimy,invisible brains down onto an unsuspecting Canadian population. I remember that when I got home from the theater, I boarded up my bedroom windows by jamming Lincoln Logs in between the panes. I WAS FREAKED OUT. I mean, after all, how do you defend yourself against invisible creeping cerebral sucking brains? I'll take Godzilla any day (you can see that big boy coming from miles away). Well, I just watched Fiend Without A Face again for the first times in forty years. Although I better understand the plot now, and know that those nasty flying gobs of brain matter did not come from outer space, it still is a great movie. My wife was upset at me after I boarded up our bedroom windows, this time with 2 x 4s. You gotta watch this 50s masterpiece. Respectable acting, thoughtful plot, and hokey special effects that you just gotta love.
A fringe scientist involved with mind over matter experiments
unwittingly unleashes a horde of horrible, invisible, brain-sucking
whatchamacallits in this 1958 thriller that isn't nearly as bad as it sounds. Although Canadian sci-fi films are usually an oxymoron, this one is at least entertaining, even though it makes use of the standard fifties cause celebre: atomic radiation. As a payoff for the audience, we finally get to see the "fiends" when the power from the conveniently nearby nuclear reactor is cranked up to reveal them as. . .brains. With brain stems. And antennae. And some surprisingly good stop-motion animation. Marshall Thompson, that staple of fifties B movies, does yeoman duty in this film by not only starring in it, but actually taking over the reins of director when the "real" director Arthur Crabtree showed up on Day 1 and refused to direct! It seems that Crabtree angrily told the producers "I don't do monster movies" and walked off the set, whereupon Thompson, to his credit, stepped up to the plate. Crabtree came back, a few days later, and the rest, as they say, is history.
All in all, "Fiend without a Face" may not be in the same league as, say, "The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms", but it's not really all that bad, either. Make a big bowl of popcorn, or get some decent pizza, and enjoy.
This is one of those scary flicks I saw in the early 70's when I was
very young (six years old, probably), and probably it was the scariest
thing I saw at that time. Certainly, there was no other film like it. I
really wonder what sort of attitude the filmmakers had when this was
being made. Were they giggling fiendishly, thinking of all the people
they would scare with these images? (Scaring people was obviously their
plan.) Did they think the movie they were making was "cool"?
The action-packed climax is pretty much the last fifteen minutes of the film. The brain creatures attack the people in the house, and pretty soon, bullets are flying, axes are being swung, and brains are being sucked. In my mind, this completely, mind-blowingly over-the-top ending scene seemed to go on forever, like a seriously bad nightmare. It was so repellently real. The creatures have no eyes, and they sort of "sense" your presence electrically to zero in on you, before flying up at you and clamping themselves onto the back of your neck. The depiction of this was pretty effective, and it still surprises me how well thought-out the creature imagery was here. Surprisingly realistic.
It still works, quite well! Go see it.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I've seen Fiend Without a Face a couple of times and enjoyed it.
Despite it being set in Canada, this is a British made movie.
A series of strange deaths where peoples' brains and spinal cords are sucked out of their bodies are the responsibility of strange brain monsters with tentacles and spinal cords attached. These are the result of a mad scientist's experiments that have gone wrong. These monsters are invisible at first but appear as they get stronger by absorbing nuclear energy from a nearly power plant. These monsters are killed at the end when Major Cummings blows the power plant up, causing the brains to disintegrate.
Fiend Without a Face is rather gory for its time and the brains look impressive.
The cast is lead by 1950's sci-fi regular Marshall Thompson (It!, the Terror From Beyond Space). I haven't heard of any other of the other stars.
This is a must for 50's sci-fi fans like myself. Great fun.
Rating: 3 and a half stars out of 5.
To start off in a horribly clicheed manner, if you can't say anything
nice, you're not supposed to say anything at all. Considering that this
Fiend Without A Face came about in a decade when sci-fi was generally
considered grade-Z clap trap, one would assume that I'd not have
anything polite to discuss in regards to this film. Well, then again,
maybe you wouldn't think that - Fiend is, after all, on Criterion, a
bastion of intelligent film-making. So maybe, just maybe, Fiend Without
A Face is an unjustly maligned masterpiece - a brilliant satirical look
at human faults and foibles allegorized through a tale of malevolent
I dare say, Fiend Without A Face falls somewhere in between. It's not schlock, nor is it masterful. It's a decent idea turned into a decent story (which someone had the foresight to save by not including the romantic subplot) acted by all right actors and directed with a steady hand. It's not Ed Wood; it certainly isn't Welles either.
There are some beautiful shots, to be sure (the establishing shots of the air-force base and some of the images of a jet's trail are gorgeous), and solid acting. On the whole, though, Fiend Without a Face is simply a well-done sci-fi/horror amalgamation and does not necessarily deserve the full, Criterion treatment.
Yes, the idea that atomic energy's greatest harm to mankind lies within our own psyches is interesting, but it's not as interesting as the paranoia of conformism that drove Body Snatchers. Yes, the acting is decent, but it's not as solid as the work done by a young Steve McQueen in the Blob. Fiend Without A Face is a movie that should not be forgotten, but it's also a film that should not be elevated to the level of greatness (which in some ways a Criterion edition somehow does).
That said, if you have a passing interest in horror or sci-fi, or the 1950s, you will enjoy this film (it's short, sweet, and very much to the point). Again, it's a well-made film and deserves to be seen; it's not, though, one of the greatest films of the science-fiction genre.
A US military installation has been set up in Canada for some special tests and experiments of an atomic nature. People begin to die from the surrounding countryside by having their brains and spinal chords sucked out by what lead actor Marshall Thompson calls "mental vampires." Thompson, quickly flirting with the sister of one of the dead men, does his usual adequate job playing detective trying to prove that the new base is not responsible for the deaths. It seems that someone or something is siphoning atomic power. Without ruining the who behind the what, Fiend Without a face is a pleasant, interesting excursion into 50's sci-fi. The fiends turn out to be brains that pulse and scrape the ground with long spinal chords attached. This film has a low budget but manages to scare up a few thrills. The acting is mediocre at best. The fiend creation are somewhat novel. Although much of the film is lacking in suspense, the finale is a good payback.
One of my favorite of the low budget films, this one is an exercise in doing a monster film RIGHT. The stalwart hero, Marshall Thompson, is posted at a joint US/Canadian base where a nuclear reactor is being used to make radar able to pick up enemies further away. Unfortunatly, a scientist nearby is also tapping into the power and he's created beings from his own subconscience (like the ID from Forbidden Planet) who have the nasty habit of sucking out peoples brains and spines! The end of this film is stellar with effects that had to take up a third of the films budget! No one whose seen this film can forget those little brain monsters! It deserves a higher rating than other voters gave it!
Fiend has everything that a 50's Sci-Fi movie should have; a really square
hero that saves the day, a beautiful female lead that falls for him, atomic
power misused, and an invisible monster that sucks the brains out of its
It is the stop motion animation at the end when the monster(s) become visible that really makes this film work. Without the animation by Peter Neilson and Ruppell this would be just another 50's atomic caution tale.
Okay, so the first hour of this 74-minute non-epic is padded to
the gills with seemingly silly dialogue, off-kilter acting, and
budgetless set design. I would argue that there is more than
meets the eye in the film's script, though, to the degree that it is a
surprisingly intelligent, supernatural take the atomic age. A highly
enjoyable hour which provides more than mere camp appeal. But - wow - that last 15 minutes! You can see everything from
THE TINGLER, to NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD, to ERASERHEAD,
to EVIL DEAD being born in the film's glorious finale! After being
blown away by the film's (beautifully animated and frankly
disturbing) ending, I watched the film again, and admired how the
the seemingly thin first hour actually builds quite ingeniously to the
climax. I was also impressed with the tasteful application of gore
at the end (which could be generically attributed to the film's British
sensibility), giving it both a shocking and alluring quality. The more I think about this supposed schlocky B-film, the more
I appreciate it. Sometimes mainstream critics such as Mr. Maltin
miss the boat, and this is precisely one of those times.
An American military base in Canada is developing a missile control
system based on nuclear energy and is facing problem with the people
from the nearby town. When four locals, including the Mayor, are
killed, Major Jeff Cummings (Marshall Thompson) is in charge of the
investigation. When the coroner examines the one of the corpse, he
finds that the brain and spinal chord was sucked out and Major Cummings
defines the creature as a mental vampire. He looks for Prof. R. E.
Walgate (Kynaston Reeves), a retired scientist that lives in town, and
he discloses the scary secret.
"Fiend Without a Face" is a silly, naive, trash sci-fi with bad acting and a ridiculous screenplay. The actors are awful, and the heroin Barbara Griselle limits to make bad choices, to scream and protect herself with her hands. There are hilarious sequences, like for example when a guy is attacked in the room by a creature, and one of the militaries wants to shoot, and Major Cummings ask him not to shoot because he may hit the victim, but he does nothing to help the poor man. Or the destruction of the power plant without any further consequences. But I was raised watching these sci-fi movies from the 50's and 60's, and I find them delightful and charming. I would like to advise the Brazilian readers that the DVD recently released by the Brazilian distributor "Magnus Opus" has serious bugs and do not play in many DVDs apparatuses. The Brazilian title is simply ridiculous. My vote is seven.
Title (Brazil): "O Horror Vem do Espaço" ("The Horror Comes From the Space")
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