Throughout my years as a devoted horror & Sci-Fi fanatic I've seen a large variety of hideous creatures from faraway galaxies, mutated beasts, mythical & spiritual beings, trolls, ogres, gnomes, gremlins, critters from the darkest depths of the oceans and appalling creations of morbid science, but I have NEVER seen monsters that solely exist of brains and a spinal column! Monsters that are invisible at first but appear when exposed to an overload of atomic energy and use their spinal cord to whip up from the ground and propel themselves onto the necks of their victims. How awesome is that? The nature of the titular "fiends" alone should be more than enough reason for fellow horror fans to check this baby out, although admittedly you'll have to be patient until the last fifteen minutes of the film in order to fully admire them. Before that the creatures are supposedly invisible and their presence only gets indicated through the sound of a pounding heartbeat; even though they don't have a heart. Go figure!
"Fiend without a Face" is an incredibly fun but sadly nearly forgotten gem of the late 50's British horror and Sci-Fi boom, professionally directed by Arthur Crabtree ("Horrors of the Black Museum") and starring Marshall Thompson ("First Man into Space", "It: Terror from Beyond Space"). The basic plot sounds extremely familiar and thus also qualifies as tacky, cheap and silly, but it is guaranteed vivid and never-boring entertainment! A small Canadian town is plagued by several mysterious and horrific deaths and naturally the petrified locals blame the nearby US army base and their loud radar experiments. After all, these militarists were already responsible for the cows producing less milk, right? Major Jeff Cummings, however, discovers that the murders relate to another type of experiments, namely the telekinetic tests executed by Dr. Walgate. He created some sort of evil monster that multiplies itself and gains intellect by literally sucking the brains and spinal cords of unsuspecting victims. I've read a lot of complaints around here about the first half allegedly being boring, but personally I never noticed a dull moment throughout the entire film. For as long as the protagonists can't yet figure out what kind of evil force is responsible for the eerie murders "Fiend without a Face" is rather suspenseful and compelling, and after that when we discovered it's paranormal brains with a spinal tail the movie is just sheer hilarious to watch. The monstrous effects easily rank amongst the most impressive and memorable ones in the history of horror cinema and, although they may look absurd by today's standards, their virulent attacks are still efficiently unsettling. This gem is in urgent need of a wider audience and a better reputation.
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