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  • Warning: Spoilers
    This film is an odd addition to the otherwise highbrow Criterion Collection. Normally, you'd expect to see foreign and art films from this company, but occasionally a genre-defying film is released by Criterion. FIEND WITHOUT A FACE is essentially a 1950s monster/sci-fi film--and not the sort that snootier viewers would watch. Now I am NOT saying all viewers of Criterion films are snooty--I've seen at least half their offerings and I have hardly ever been called 'snooty'--at least in the last day or so.

    The film is set in rural Canada during the 1950s. Since the arrival of a US air/missile defense base, strange going-ons have occurred. Cows are giving less milk and people are dying in the most inexplicable manner. They are found dead--with their brains and spinal cords sucked through two small holes in the base of the skull!!! How the US Air Force is responsible for THAT is beyond me, but the locals need someone to blame. So, it's up to Major Cummings to get to the bottom of these gruesome murders. The Major is stumped and can't establish any connection between the air base and the killings. Finally, with no other options, he decides that a strange retired professor who dabbles in research on telepathy MIGHT be responsible. And, in a strange twist, the use of the atomic power plant on the base may hold the key. I'd say more but I don't want to spoil the film.

    Overall, despite having a cast of entirely unknown actors, the film does have a professional look about it and the actors did fine jobs. The footage of airplanes don't appear to be stock footage and the usual cheap and grainy shots. The sets also look good--as do the uniforms and equipment. So, technically speaking it is way above average for the genre and places it in the top 1/3 of sci-fi/horror films of the age--even once you see the monsters, it is a bit silly looking (to say the least) and you can also occasionally see the wires holding them. However, the sucking sound the creatures made is really pretty cool...and chilling. And watching them get shot or smashed was pretty neat. My biggest concern about the plot is the odd way they recommended killing off the creatures--it did seem a tad reckless to say the least and I hope that isn't how you are really supposed to turn off nuclear power plants!!

    Overall, a very watchable film for lovers of the genre, though it's not among the very, very best of the era--and kids today might just laugh at the whole thing (young whippersnappers!).
  • Fiend Without a Face (1958)

    ** (out of 4)

    At a military base in Canada people start falling dead with their brains and spinal cords apparently sucked out. The locals think it's a madman but soon we learn a scientist has accidentally let loose a group of invisible brain eaters. This film is mainly known for being one of the first to use extreme gore, which is used to good effect at the end of the film. The sound effects are very effective but other than that this is your casual 50's sci-fi film. I prefer The Brain Eaters, which was also released in 1958.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    An okay-to-good '50s monster romp which suffers from a lack of action in the first hour - but more than makes up for it in a thrilling finale which involves a bunch of people being trapped in a farmhouse while the monsters mass and attack outside. Before this we have to put up with a bunch of unlikeable, clichéd characters shouting and fighting each other. Firstly there are the dumb, heavily-accented "country folk" who blame the murders on the new scientific research station in their midst; then the wooden, stern military officers who romance the ladies and save the day.

    Marshall Thompson stars in this film, and he puts in the same stoic, expressionless performance as he did in FIRST MAN INTO SPACE, playing exactly the same character too. Nobody else figures much in the story, which is populated with the kind of stock characters you always see in these '50s flicks - the female assistant with the tight sweater, the old fuddy duddy scientist, and the military chief who absolutely will not, no, cannot, listen to reason.

    Although supposedly set in America, this was filmed in England, and works wonders on a tight budget. To liven up the snail pace of the first hour we have a few creative death sequences which manage to be effective despite having no special effects at all. You see, these monsters are invisible, so the actors and actresses have to pretend to be attacked. What makes these potentially-laughable attacks work are the gloopy, gooey sound effects loudly imposed over the on screen action. Things move on to a shot of an invisible monster moving through bushes, a door and then a house, all achieved with some clever effects a la THE INVISIBLE MAN.

    Viewers need to take a break from reality while watching this, as the explanation for the creation of the monsters has to be one of the most unbelievable I've ever heard - I won't go into it here because it's too confusing. Thankfully, when the monsters do eventually become visible, they're nicely designed, all brains and tentacle and slithery tails (also doubling as spinal cords, as it happens). The superb ending sees a ton of these "fiends" shot at, and they bleed strawberry jam all over the place and rot away in some surprisingly graphic moments which foreshadow the disgusting disintegrations which marked the destruction of the disturbing demons in THE EVIL DEAD. The stop motion effects used to animate them are brilliant, and a must-see.

    This exciting finale has obviously been quite influential in the genre - check out the scene where the heroes barricade themselves in a room, hammering planks over the windows while the monsters mill around outside - recreated almost shot-by-shot in Romero's NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD. I've no doubt that the designers of the facehugger in ALIEN saw these monsters beforehand too. Check out the hilarious bit where the old fuddy duddy runs outside and is immediately devoured by three of the creatures. "He was a brave man" says one bystander - stupid, more like! Usually I would rate this film higher, but it's only average because the first hour (below average) outweighs the final twenty minutes (superb).
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Let's see. We have an air base where nuclear power is used to create a radar blanket surround the north pole. They are having trouble getting this to work properly. We have a nuclear power plant functioning in a small town. Suddenly, bodies start showing up with their brains and spinal cords sucked out of their bodies, with expressions of terror. The townspeople blame the soldiers that live among them. Apparently, it makes sense that a GI who has gone berserk would suck the brains out of people. They also blame the Air Force for their cows not giving much milk. Well it turns out that some scientist has been stealing the radiation before it gets to those planes to do some experiments in telekinesis. Like Walter Pidgeon in "Forbidden Planet," his mind has created invisible creatures. Anyway, these invisible things, when fed with enough nuclear energy, become corporeal. They look like mosquito larva with big brains and spinal cords that move like inch worms. Does this sound a bit bizarre. It is fun but don't think too much.
  • 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")
  • Warning: Spoilers
    This hideous looking brain like monster (which I first saw in the 1982 comic horror movie documentary, "It Came From Hollywood") is the unintentional creation of professor Kynaston Reeves, and all you can hear as it approaches is its loud thumping which sounds as heavy as the Frankenstein monster. It isn't until 65 minutes into the movie where it finally appears, and when it does, if you haven't already fallen asleep, you might laugh at the shear audacity of what it looks like. This creature can easily be plummeted with a hatchet as evidenced when it first breaks into the room when Reeves, naval officer Marshall Thompson and Kim Parker (among other naval officials) are confronted by it.

    When you see it, you realize what you've been hearing since this invisible blob first appeared without appearing is that it sounds either like an old coffee percolator or an outboard motor of an old automobile. Certainly it is strong enough to choke a man to death, but you can't help but laugh at what William Castle decided to make fun of in "The Tingler" and what looks like a huge shrimp that has been given steroids. If only the first three quarters moved a bit faster, this might have been worth half a star more, but describing this as a fiend really stretches the truth since what it is is as far from human creation as possible no matter what zany professor Reeves says.
  • Invisible atomic monsters attack a U.S. Armed Forces base and the local residents.

    The screenplay by Herbert J. Leder was based upon Amelia Reynolds Long's 1930 short story "The Thought Monster", originally published in the March 1930 issue of Weird Tales magazine. Forrest J. Ackerman represented Long and brokered the sale of her story to the film's producers. Having not read the original story, I wonder what changes were made. Presumably a 1930 story would not have atomic power be such a central focus as its 1958 variation.

    The stop-motion, while somewhat cheesy, is quite effective at bringing the creature to life. It also happens to make the film quite memorable, because it is likely the only film of its kind using such effects. This creature is not one of Ray Harryhausen's lumbering beasts!
  • rmax30482314 October 2014
    Warning: Spoilers
    This particular monster, who sucks out brains and spinal cords through two little holes in the back of your skull, resembles the first appearance of the monster from the id in "Forbidden Planet", in that it's invisible and leaves footprints, or slime prints. It's clumsy too. It knocks over pails of milk, pokes holes in wondows, and promotes entropy generally. And it makes a noise too, like some sort of ravenous bum gobbling down a big bowl of cioppino.

    He eats the brains and spines of a couple of peaceful Canadians in Manitoba, near an American Air Force Base that is experimenting with a new kind of nuclear-powered radar. The villagers ignorantly blame the deaths on the Air Force. To be honest, the Americans are pretty cavalier about their damned nuclear reactor. "Remove ten more rods from the reactor." "But, sir, that exceeds the design specifications." "Do it anyway; we've GOT to make this radar work or we'll be in trouble with the Pentagon!" And we watch the needle on the instrument palpitate as it rises past neutral, into high, then overload, and finally nudges "dangerous." It's like one of those submarine movies where they have to take her down below the allowable number of fathoms.

    The concept borrows heavily from "Forbidden Planet". A professor tries to "materialize" his thoughts and succeeds all too well. When his thoughts, which turn out to be evil, blood-sucking, brains, take over the atomic reactor and turn it up well into "overload" -- well, I'll tell you. It's not a pretty picture.

    Nor is it any good. It must have had a minuscule budget otherwise everything about it wouldn't be so bad. That includes the sets, the plot, the dialog, and the performances. Okay, with one exception. Kim Parker is the scientist's assistant. Every scientist in these movies must have a toothsome assistant for the hero to win at the end. And she qualifies, despite those traffic-cone brassieres that all the girls wore in the 1950s. She may or may not have any talent. Who can tell? But her voice has a charming, fey, botched quality that makes it easy to listen to. She'll do in a pinch.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    The 1950s was the decade of the cold-war paranoia sci-fi/horror movie, clever studios cashing in on the potential threat of an invasion or missile attack by the 'commies'. Fiend Without a Face proves to be one of more memorable efforts from this era thanks to its innovative script, neat direction from Arthur Crabtree, and a charming cast, but most of all perhaps, because of its cool creatures—disembodied brains, with spinal cords for tails, that suck their victims' heads dry.

    For much of the film, these monsters—the result of experiments in thought materialisation by well-meaning scientist Professor Walgate (Kynaston Reeves)—are completely invisible (but remain threatening due to the creepy noises that they make before attacking); however, after receiving an extra power boost from a nearby atomic plant, they finally appear in all their hideous glory, looking just a bit like like face-huggers that have been to university.

    US Major Jeff Cummings (Marshall Thompson) leads the desperate battle against the crawling brains, only pausing to make moves on the prof's shapely assistant Barbara Griselle (stunning actress Kim Parker); eventually, after an impressive stand-off against the creatures (a scene that utilises some fun stop-motion animation and plenty of 'goop'), Jeff stops off at a nearby handy-dandy dynamite depot and eliminates the beasties by blowing up the power station (rather strangely, he doesn't seem the slightest bit concerned about the very real possibility of a radiation leak as a result!).

    A little note of interest: although the film is set on a US air-base in Manitoba, Canada, it was actually shot in Walton-on-Thames in the UK (which, incidentally, is where I did my school work experience as a teenager).
  • Warning: Spoilers
    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.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Based upon Amelia Reynolds Long's 1930 short story "The Thought Monster", originally published in the March 1930 issue of Weird Tales magazine, this independent British film played in the US on a double bill with The Haunted Strangler.

    U. S. Air Force Interceptor Command Experimental Station No. 6 is a long-range radar installation located in the fictional town of Winthrop, Manitoba, Canada, which is a farming village that's been plagued by unexplained deaths. It turns out that people are being killed with their brains and spinal columns being taken. The townies are up in arms, as they feel that the radiation experiments are to blame.

    That leads Air Force Major Jeff Cummings starts to investigate the murders and quickly fingers Professor R. E. Walgate as a person of interest. Turns out that the Professor has been experimenting with telekinesis and thought projection for some time. That said - the radiation from the base has turned his thought projections into an entirely new life form that is attacking the locals and using them for host bodies. Of course, those bodies are mostly invisible, but also show up from time to time as moving brains with spinal columns with eyes at the end of extended eye stalks. They're creepy as hell and led to a public uproar after its British premiere, with the public and critics angry over the films horrifying levels of gore (for the time, at least).

    When this movie debuted at the Rialto Theatre in New York City, it came complete with a sidewalk exhibit of a "living and breathing Fiend" that moved and made sounds. The crowds that gathered to watch the caged Fiend created large crowds that the NYPD had to disperse.

    It's a pretty effective picture. Maybe that's not even due to the film's director, Arthur Crabtree. He believed that science fiction was beneath him and walked off the set at one point, with star Marshall Thompson finishing the direction of the movie.

    If you like 1950's atomic science fiction, scenes of people boarded in a room trying to hide out from pulsating brains and stop-motion blood and guys, well, this is the movie for you.
  • A typical mid 50's sci-fi plot. Not a giant menace, but an invisible one. A scientist discovers that his telekinetic powers attract invisible monsters that feed on humans for food. When the monsters become visible, the movie becomes hokey, but pretty gorey. The killers are actually enlarged brains with spinal cord attached. Slat, splat, splatter...pretty good effects for the era.

    The cast includes Marshall Thompson, Kim Parker, Gil Winfield and Shane Cordell.

    I wouldn't mind seeing a remake with today's standard of effects.
  • Towns-people near a US airbase in Canada turn up dead under mysterious circumstances. Survivors blame an atomic power plant on the base for the deaths and other strange happenings. So what's going on. Will the Cold War airbase be forced to retreat by upset Canadians.

    Too bad the fiend turns out to be so hokey since the rest of the film is both competently made and involving. That's especially unusual for the time when drive-in hokum cared little for quality. Probably the fiend would have been best left invisible since the squishy brains are really more yucko than scary. Looking for a good place to drink beer at the time, I missed few of these epics. I remember our carload of guys laughing when the special effects crawled across the screen. To that point, we had all been unusually quiet while immersed in events.

    Anyway, production does a good job of creating a military atmosphere at the airbase, with effective use of stock shots of the air and ground. Then too, Marshall makes a persuasive airforce major, refusing to just walk through the part as was often the case with these low- budgeters. And what about Miss Kim Parker, a good little actress in addition to filling out a tight sweater. Too bad her career was a short one. But stealing the film is Reeves as the aristocratic looking professor. He doesn't get much screen time till the last, but then really comes through in dramatic fashion.

    Plot-wise, cynics might note the way the atomic power plant is treated. I'm really surprised that in the 1950's it's made as controversial as it is, particularly by its supposed effects on the environment. In that period nuclear energy was generally considered the wave of the future. In that respect, the movie seems more contemporary than dated, while the final frame appears especially daring.

    Had someone in production come up with a better fiend, this drive-in special might have achieved sleeper status. As things stand, it's still superior of its kind.
  • There's a scene in this where the colonel calls the nuclear power plant and asks the engineer for more power. He all but says "if I give you any more power Jim, it'll blow!" Later we get: "I'm a doctor, not a detective!" It features a fellow with a heavy Scots accent. Gene Roddenberry must have seen this.

    This story has a whole lotta elements: nuclear power, defense technology (in the form of high tech radar and planes), those pesky rooskies, telepathy, monsters, god-like creation supported by lightning, and "sibonetics." Our heroes are locked in a house with boarded up windows as the "mind zombies" attack.

    You'll have to judge for yourselves whether it matches what you need for pleasure, but it surely influenced scifi and monster pictures that followed.

    The thing I like about these is how they portray the mad scientist. Even in those days when the military was king, the uniformed guys didn't have the brains. Those reside in white-coated old men, here clearly contrasted with the soldiers and the local townspeople -- particularly the local doctor. Doctors are often the smart people in town in movies (almost never lawyers), so this is significant.

    In this case, they follow the "Forbidden Planet" template. The doctor is an adventurer, someone addicted to creation, not discovery. A real scientist would typically be more interested in understanding things; movie mad scientists are more interested in creating things without necessarily understanding them. There are probably two reasons for this in the 50's.

    The first is the obvious: understanding, comprehension, insight, are not very cinematic, at least using the techniques available. The second is equally obvious: "science" had created the bomb (about which we are reminded here constantly) and the public believed that this was a rushed creation without "understanding" because understanding was related to control and we obviously did not control the bomb.

    As with most things cinematic, conventions are set in their time, reflecting their time. And then those conventions persist. Just as you can see some stylistic elements of this in later projects like "Star Trek," you'll surely see this notion of a mad, creative scientist echoing in modern films.

    Ted's Evaluation -- 2 of 3: Has some interesting elements.
  • I know this movie since twenty seven years now, and I have never forgotten it. The first time I watched it, it gave me the creeps. I am sure this film, as SHADOW OF THE CAT, inspired some episodes, in the scheme and atmosphere of THE AVENGERS TV show, where the famous couple Diana Rigg and Patrick McNee had to investigate at the boundaries of the science fiction. That's the best Arthur Crabtree's film, with maybe HORRORS AT THE BLACK MUSEUM. I won't repeat the topic, already explained in the other comments. But, please, don't miss this one. But I also admit that this story is not typically British, it could have been American as well.
  • Fiend Without a Face is directed by Arthur Crabtree and written by Herbert J. Leder and Amelia Reynolds Long (story The Thought Monster). It stars Marshall Thompson, Kynaston Reeves, Michael Balfour and Kim Parker. Music is by Buxton Orr and cinematography by Lionel Banes.

    Some sort of invisible assailant loose on the Canadian border and is attacking a U.S. Army Base and the local residents in the surrounding area. The locals are convinced it has something to do with the nuclear power plant, the army not so, especially since the unseen foe's modus operandi is to suck out the brains and spinal cords of its victims!

    A mental vampire. A fiend!

    Wonderfully bonkers Brit sci-fi horror that nicely builds premise and characters to then unleash the beasties in all their stop motion gory glory. It's a pay off well worth your patience, which when it comes down to it is not a lot to ask for in a movie that doesn't even run to 80 minutes. Standard clichés of many 50s creature feature schlockers apply, such as romance, straight backed heroics, dumb decisions made and averted, nice characters, bad characters, silly dialogue and some incredibly creaky science.

    The principles of thought control.

    The budget is obviously not stretching to great heights, but Crabtree was adept at creating great suspense and atmosphere with minimal cash funds, as he proves here. There's a sense of paranoia drifting over everything, perfect for the 50s fear of the nuclear age, and scenes such as when our hero is trapped in a mausoleum are skillfully crafted for maximum impact. Then the last 15 minutes arrive and it's The Alamo as our roll call of survivors try and stave off the attack of the killer brains! Delightful creations that look like brain snails with spinal cords that leap around and attach themselves to the victims necks.

    The effects are nifty for the era, the gore equally so, while the sound effects, and Orr's brilliant musical score, are of a real high quality. Daft for sure, but not insultingly so like so many cheaply turned out films of the time, this is a 50s sci-fi horror fan's fun bag ticket for a good night in. 8/10
  • This has a very impressive opening hook that I can remember from childhood . A sentry stands guard at an American air force base in Canada where he hears strange noises followed by a man's screams . He leaves his post to go running in to the woods and finds a man's body and the expression on the body's face says that he's died a terrible and unnatural death

    From the outset FIEND WITHOUT A FACE bludgeons the audience in to letting it know that the setting for this film is Canada . There's absolutely no geographical reason for this because being a British film it could easily be set in an American air force base in the UK but since all the locals are either very dumb or very cowardly that would be unpatriotic . In many ways this film is similar to the later British film FIRST MAN INTO SPACE which also starred Marshall Thompson and disguised itself as an American movie . The major difference is that FIEND is enjoyable nonsense whilst FIRST MAN is banal nonsense

    The narrative itself is very silly and much of the premise is ripped off from the classic FORBIDDEN PLANET . Like so many films from the era radiation gets blamed for everything . But where as films like THEM has an internal logic as to giant ants stalking the countryside here it fails to make any sense . The fiends themselves are brought to life via telekinses and radiation from a nearby nuclear power plant but surely the fiends would need access to the radiation ? Unless there's been a leak at the power plant ala Chernobyl how on earth can they get radiation ? Clumsy thinking on the part of the screenwriter

    What stops this ruining the film is the director Arthur Crabtree . He's a director who started off as a cinematographer and the way the movie is lit is very impressive . Notice the right amount of lighting and shadow in key scenes . There is some obvious day for night filming but this isn't enough to ruin the audiences enjoyment and the scene where the two hunters split up only to go missing is very effective . Despite ripping off an aspect of FORBIDDEN PLANET the attacks by the invisible fiends do have a genuine impact to them . When they are finally revealed you might them somewhat laughable and obviously created via stop frame animation but you'd need a heart of stone not to be caught up in all the fun

    And FIEND WITHOUT A FACE is a lot of fun . Okay no one is claiming it's a great movie but as far as science fiction B movies go this is a film I enjoyed very much watching one Friday night many years ago . It's also one of these movies Hollywood is rumoured to be remaking every few years but to be honest it's fine as it is
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Get a load of this premise:A scientist, whose studies on psychic phenomena are well renowned, has developed an apparatus that drains the atomic power from a US Airforce base radar which provides him with the ability to detach thought from his conscious giving it a separate entity. This entity becomes a monstrous fiend that drains intellect(!) from human victims in a nearby town Winthrop attaching to the base of the occipital region of the neck(by drilling two small holes), penetrating to the medulla obolongata where the spinal cord meets the brain. Now get this, the fiend sucks out each victim's brain while also removing their spinal cord! Here's the kicker..they're invisible and need brains to survive and multiply. The scientist, Professor Walgate(Kynaston Reeves), didn't have a clue of what he unleashed on the earth..all he was wanting to do was test his theories and prove that thought materialization was possible. The town, at first, blame the Airforce base for the deaths of the citizens due to their atomic radar experiments(they use atomic power to increase the proficiency of their radar range to spy on the Russians), but when Major Jeff Cummings(Marshall Thompson..many might recognize him from "It!The Terror from Beyond Space")begins snooping for answers they lead right to the Professor, whose physical condition has worsened due to his mental experiments. The climax is just fantastic..the creatures gain such strength through the growing atomic radiation(now that the fiends have multiplied, they destroy rods within the plant that control the ability to cut the reactor off)they appear visible. They look like giant brains with the spinal cord guiding their movements..they literally move around like snakes up trees and dart through holes at poor victims holed up in the Professor's house! As Cummings heads for the base nuclear plant, a group of characters try to fend off the fiends. To stop them, the nuclear plant will have to cease giving them the atomic energy they need.

    The special effects are stunning for a film made in 1958. The film really consists of amazing stop-motion effects. What's really cool is when the Airforce guys still alive within the Professor's house begin riddling the fiends with bullets..this strawberry jam like goo pusses out! I guess it's supposed to resemble blood, but I still thought it was well done under the circumstances of the low budget. You do see the brain creatures attach to victims at the end. The effects for the fiends both invisible when they move on top of(..and through)objects, and the ending where they are visible and move around(..one cool sequence has one of the fiends using it's spinal cord to grab a chisel hammer!), I thought were just superb. Consider me quite a fan of this movie. I don't know why it has such a bad rep. For 50's sci-fi monster movie fans, this is a must.
  • Horror film about a scientist who is able to materialize his thoughts. They're invisible but get loose and kill people by sucking out their brains and spinal cord! Also atomic energy makes them stronger and--wouldn't you know it--there's a military atomic base nearby!

    The story is silly to say the least. The script is VERY dull full of stock characters with no discernible personality traits whatsoever. The actors walk through their roles and the direction is uninspired. This is pretty heavy going (my finger was on the fast forward a LOT) until an hour in when the creatures materialize. THEN the film kicks into high gear.

    The fiends look like brains with a spinal cords attached! Stop motion is used to animate these things and, though it's obvious, it's still pretty gruesome. The final 15 minutes are full of crawling brains and an incredible amount of blood especially for a 1958 movie. But, aside from the final 15 minutes, this is pretty dull and hardly a landmark in horror cinema. The picture is clear and the audio is excellent--if a little too loud. Worth a rental--but that's it. NOT worth the ridiculous price Criterion put on it. I'd love to know why this movie was chosen. I give it a 6--and that's all for the ending.
  • It's More than a B "Brain" Movie. It's that, Sci-Fi, Horror, Atomic Paranoia and Mind Control all Mixed together and made for an Unforgettable Causal Nightmare of a Movie that had "Baby Boomers" Squirming.

    It's Reputation Precedes it Today and is Enjoyed by Moderns as a Bona-Fide 1950's Classic of its Kind. The Film does Not Disappoint.

    The First Two-Acts are Filled with Low-Budget Treats. Expressionistic Lighting and Mood are used in the Military Radar Room Scenes to Enhance the Paranoia.

    The Film Opens with the Attacks by "Fiends Without a Face" that are Invisible "Mental Vampires" that Lurch and Latch on to Innocent Town Folks and the Slurping, Eerie Sound-Effects leave No Doubt that They are a Force to be Reckoned With.

    Experiencing the Terror are the Usual Display of Fifties Characters. The Military Captain (Marshall Thompson) all Solemn, Serious, and Wired with Coffee and Benzedrine. The Military General in Charge of the Nuclear Plant that says "Remove more rods, damn the risks, we've got to make this work, I have to answer to the Pentagon." (paraphrasing).

    There's the Wiry Haired Absent "Minded" Professor Fiddling About Conjuring Mind Control Thought Entities with the Help of Nuclear Radiation and the Perky Female Assistant that Bounces from the Shower Dripping Wet with a Towel Covering only the Censored Parts and is Ready for Action, but She's more Body than "Brains" ("My head is buzzing with all of these big words.")

    Horrifying Things Happen even before the Disembodied Brains Complete with Spinal Cords make the Third Act the Undisputed Highlight of All 1950's Brain Movies. The Effects are Superb, Gooey, Gory, and Undeniably Unforgettable, even Today.

    The Film is made Rich with other Ingredients, like the Cavalier Attitude about the Nuke Plant and those In Charge. But it is the Now Famous "Brains" and the Claustrophobic Attack on the Cast in the Finale that makes the Movie Memorable.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Fiend Without a Face starts late one night in Winthrop in Canada near a US air force base as a local man Jauque Griselle is found dead in some woods by a sentry, the man's death remains unexplained & over the next couple of days more of the locals turn up dead. The US base & is nuclear reactor are being blamed by the townspeople & it's up to Major Jeff Cummings (Marshall Thompson) to try & uncover the real reasons behind the mysterious death's, he contacts Barbara Griselle (Kim Parker) & becomes suspicious of her elderly scientist boss Professor Walgate (Kynaston Reeves) who is conducting strange experiments in the field of telekinesis that have created thought creatures that live by absorbing radiation & eating people's brains. Trapped in the professor's house & surrounded by these creatures Major Cummings has to destroy the creatures before they multiply & take over the world...

    This British production was directed by Arthur Crabtree & the script was based on the short story 'The Thought Monster' by Amelia Reynolds Long published in 1930 in an edition of Weird Tales, this 70 minutes film is surprisingly good actually & is a nice mix of sci-fi & horror. The script is lean & to the point despite a few goofs, a nuclear power plant reaching meltdown even though the fuel rods have been removed & then it is blown up with no significant damage to the surrounding area (hello, how about nuclear fallout?) & the fact that Major Cummings can't open the crypt door from the inside but Chester can open it easily enough from the outside? Also, if one of the creatures made it's way down the chimney & killed Melville why did none of the survivors in the room try to block the chimney afterwards? Overall though I can forgive some sloppy plotting because Fiend Without a Face has a lot going for it, it's brisk at only 70 minutes, it has it's fair share of creepy moments, the scientific aspect of the plot is fair easy to follow even if it doesn't make perfect sense, that character's are functional, the first fifty odd minutes serves as a nice little horror mystery with the unexplained death's while the last fifteen minutes goes for all out horror as the thought creatures are revealed & attack people stranded in a house in scenes that are reminiscent of The Night of the Living Dead (1968) complete with boarded up windows. I can see why Fiend Without a Face is still well know today, it's a good little film that makes the most of what it has & gives us a different sort of monster.

    Although set entirely in Canada this was filmed in London in England, there's some grainy stock footage of real planes & the like but nothing too distracting. Director Crabtree manages to build up a fair bit of tension & suspense, I love the heart thumping on the soundtrack. The end siege is well handled & never lets up, it's worth watching the previous hour or so just for this standout set-piece. The thought monsters look cool, they are just human brains with antenna that crawl on the floor as they push themselves with their spinal cord like tails. The effect is somewhat lost when they start jumping around & flying through the air. During a time when most monster films simply used guy's in rubber suits it's nice to see that stop-motion animation was used here & while not perfect it's pretty good for the era. There's a bit of blood here whenever one of the monsters is shot but nothing graphic is shown happening to any of the people.

    Supposedly shot on a budget of a mere £50,000 this opened in the US some six months before the UK, filmed in black and white the production values are alright if not amazing. The acting is OK apart from Constable Gibbons played by Robert MacKenzie who gives a truly terrible performance.

    Fiend Without a Face is a nice little sci-fi horror film from the late 50's that is better than it had any right to be & stood the test of time quite well despite some goofs in it's science & plotting. I liked it, I liked the monsters, I liked the atmosphere & I liked it didn't tone down the horror elements especially at the end. Fans of classic sci-fi & horror should definitely give Fiend Without a Face a watch.
  • When four local bigwigs are killed near a top secret American base in Canada, it falls to investigator "Jeff Cummings" (Marshall Thompson) to get to the bottom of things. This task is made much more complicated when he discovers that their corpses are devoid of their brains and their spines and cooky retired scientist Kynaston Reeves ("Prof. Walgate") is also privy to a lot more than he is going to willingly let on... Can he seek out and destroy these killers before they, too, end up as fodder for their unseen foes? This isn't actually that bad, it is quite tensely directed and the darkly lit scenarios help to maintain the (very slight) sense of menace for a while. The acting is really poor, though - as is the dialogue, and the beastie effects reminded me of turnips with tendrils. The tail end of the film is worth watching with quite a fun siege, but it's all just a little too late to rescue this from silly sci-fi season at the cinema.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Richard Gordon initially kicked off his own production company in 1955 and continued making genre films for 25 years, until costs escalated too much for independents to make a profit, but he enjoyed quite a run while it lasted. It was Boris Karloff who provided a script for a vehicle he very much wanted to do in Britain, and thanks to Gordon that became "The Haunted Strangler," "Fiend Without a Face" shot back to back as its second feature, director Arthur Crabtree ("Horrors of the Black Museum") at the helm. Coming off his horror debut in "Cult of the Cobra," Marshall Thompson had no qualms about headlining genre films, quickly following this Gordon production with another, "First Man Into Space," plus the inspirational "It! The Terror from Beyond Space." Set on an American air base in Manitoba, the picture begins with a precredit sequence where a farmer is killed by an invisible something that sucks out its victims' brains and spinal columns through two puncture holes in the back of the skull. This was hardly a typical science fiction premise, and audiences were left choking on their Chiclets during the murder scenes, until the grand finale where the remaining cast members are under siege by a large number of the creatures, atomic radiation revealing them to be physical manifestations of one elderly scientist's thoughts, disgusting looking brains ('mental vampires') with spinal cords dragging behind them, used to hurl themselves at their intended targets, nicely achieved through stop motion animation by a two man team in Munich, Ruppel & Nordhoff. That final reel almost looks like a blueprint for "Night of the Living Dead," after a slow hour long buildup, but it does not disappoint, bullets effective in killing the mobile brains, expiring in a gruesome puddle of stomach churning ooze (the horrifying sound effects would be copied almost verbatim for a superior Gordon effort from 1966, "Island of Terror" starring Peter Cushing). Richard Gordon's other titles include "The Electronic Monster," "Corridors of Blood" (Karloff again), "The Playgirls and the Vampire," "Devil Doll," "Curse of the Voodoo," "The Projected Man," "Naked Evil," "Bizarre," "Tower of Evil," "Horror Hospital," "The Cat and the Canary," and "Inseminoid." Kim Parker provides provocative sex appeal in a completely gratuitous shower scene, prominently featured in the ad campaign, and it's a shame that this beauty never starred in another movie. All one needs to do is get through an hour of exposition before the fireworks begin, and Gordon later acknowledged that this was his most popular film, if not his best.
  • ... which usually highlights the best films from around the world. So you'd expect and you would find "Seven Samurai", "The Third Man", and "Bicycle Thieves" among those films that are or have been in print by this group. But why this film?

    I really don't know. Maybe just because it is a good representative of late 50s sci fi horror. In the 30s and 40s people were afraid of Dracula, Dr. Frankenstein, and The Wolf Man. In the nuclear age people are just not that afraid of a giant bat. And that's where this little film comes in.

    It's got lots of angles covered. There is the American military installation in Canada. The military and the nearby farming community do not like or trust one another. There is nuclear power at the installation...to power the radars? I looked this up and this actually was a thing. The natives think that the nuclear power plant is effecting the milk production of their cows. One nearby villager is killed one night when he is nearby the military installation taking notes. Then three more locals are murdered. And in a most unusual way. Their brain and spinal column has been sucked out of their body through a tiny hole in their head. And whatever killed them is invisible. So now the Canadians think there is a crazy American soldier killing people on top of everything else.

    So enter Major Cummings (Allan Thompson) to solve the mystery. And this film is so very 50s. Cummings openly takes speed so he can work late hours. His idea of romancing a gal is to walk into her house just because the door is unlocked to find her clad only in a bath towel. In fact, Cummings is so bad at romance a special sax score plays whenever it is supposed to be a romantic moment, because you'd never figure it out without that cue. And we are just waiting to see what this invisible killer looks like because it makes the weirdest "swishing" noises as it approaches.

    To obviously be a B film with a low budget, it does what it does well, and manages to include as a clue a word that does not exist - "sibonetics". Did they mean cybernetics? I'd recommend this quirky little film that is home in both the Criterion Collection and MST3K.
  • Around an American airbase in Canada, the local townsfolk start dying in an unspeakable fashion. Major Cummings (Marshall Thompson) has his hands full, trying to prove that his airmen are not responsible for the carnage.

    Meanwhile, the invisible killers continue their deadly rampage, and we soon learn that mad science is afoot. It appears that experiments in "thought materialization" have gone horribly awry.

    FIEND WITHOUT A FACE is a truly scary movie, especially for its era. Its use of stop-motion during the finale, when the monsters become visible, is impressive. These little horrors are unique, and leave a lasting impression. Also memorable is the uncanny sound they make! Highly recommended for the sci-fi / monster fanatic...
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