HMM Day 17 – Fiend Without A Face

A scientists thoughts have materialized into real form and are going on a killing spree. All with the victims brains and spinal chords being ripped out! But how can you stop an invisible killer!?

Directed in 1958 by Arthur Crabtree, Fiend Without A Face is a great sci-fi horror film from the Silver Age. It’s about killer brains that fly and kill people. Yea, I know this sounds ridiculous but I have to admit; I love classic cheesy B films and Fiend Without A Face is great stuff. I think to be a true fan of horror, one must appreciate the history of the genre. To me, the silver age of horror was about entertaining and bringing horror to a world full of fear.

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The Silver Age of Horror

Adams-PLCD25-fullFiend Without a Face (to me) represents all of those terrible B films. If you had a checklist with the “musts” of horror then this film would be king. It has the dry terrible acting. The strong boring male hero. The stupid damsel. The annoying scientist that can explain everything and a hilarious monster that you don’t see until the end. All accompanied with a musical score loaded with awesome timpani drums.

3634417443_8022da5363_oAlthough the film is corny and it can be a little boring in certain points (parts I’ve come to appreciate for some odd reason), the movie has some pretty cool effects. The brains were done with stop animation and when they’re killed they have that over-the-top gushing sounds. For a film set in 1958 it was pretty violent. Most deaths in film only alluded to or didn’t depict actual injury or death. This film showed a great deal of sickening gore. Compared to other films this was much more ballsy.

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It was actually a cause of controversy in England. Parliament discussed why the film wasn’t banned. At a showing a prop of the brain was on display in a cage for people to look in. It caused such commotion on the streets that police came in and demanded it be removed. Fiend Without A Face could very well be a film that laid way for films like Night Of The Living Dead and The Exorcist. I believe it gave directors the clear to be much more graphic with their content.

fiend_major_cummings.jpgIt’s a pretty cliche plot. Some nuclear testing at a base is being connected to these mysterious murders. At the same time a scientist is experimenting with telekinesis, in doing so creating these invisible creatures. Major Jeff Cummings (what an awesome name) is in charge of the investigation. It’s very reminiscent of Fred Wilcox’s 1956 Forbidden Planet where a scientist discovers powerful alien technology and uses it to create an invisible monster. The movie undergoes the same typical B film operations. Close encounters with the monster. A lengthy conversation about the science behind everything. Terrible romance between our hero and the damsel. But it all ends off with a rather amazing stand-off between the hero and the monsters. It’s a great scene that you don’t really see coming and aren’t too ready for.

Fiend Without A Face (to me) is the best of the cheesy B rated films. It’s the ideal setting for a monster staying off screen the entire movie up to the last 20 minutes. I don’t know how crowds reacted to the brains when they finally appeared. To me, I would have laughed because that’s how my eight year old daughter reacted when she saw them. But it’s a good film and I demand you watch it now!

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