Saturday, June 27, 2009

Day 135: Fiend Without A Face (1958) - Rank 3/5

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There are two words that best describe this film: delightfully absurd. All B-horror requires a fair amount of suspension of disbelief, but "Fiend Without a Face" certainly pushes the plausibility factor. A monster film at its core, our creature is created by the very factor that created about 90% of all monsters in the 1950's - atomic power. As a kid, I almost wished that giant insects were terrorizing the countryside. I'd go into school and my science teachers would present more of a sermon than a lecture, with "When will we ever learn?" being the theme. Actually, I can do that...nay, shall. I'll have to make this review brief. It's hard to think when I can't hear over the sound of the cogs in my head turning.

Anyway, the monster comes into creation when the radioactivity from the atomic tests of a nearby airforce base interferes with an elderly scientist trying to develop his own telekinetic abilities. Somehow, the power of his intelligence mixed with the atomic power leads to a new sentient form of intelligence that, if exposed to enough radioactivity, develops an actual physical body. Surreal, I know and I have no doubt that this concept was heavily influenced by the idea behind the Id Monster in "Forbidden Planet" which had been released two years prior. Still, I can't deny that the monsters are pretty cool when you finally get to see them (during most of the film, the monsters are invisible when they suck out people's brains...did I mention that they suck out brains?). They're essentially brains with spinal cord tails and antennae.

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The climax features a lengthy assault by the brains on the film's survivors. Bullets fly and brains burst into bloody messes - impressively gory for the fifties and some of the best non-Harryhausen, non-O'Brien stop-animation work I've seen. The downside is the film does drag quite a bit, making you "earn" the ending. Ah, but a fun ending it is.

Watch the Trailer

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