Fiend Without A Face/Review 2

From The Grindhouse Cinema Database

< Fiend Without A Face

Jeff Cummings (Marshall Thompson) is a major on an American military base in Canada who has been conducting radar experiments that use a great deal of radiation in their transmissions. When several people start to die in mysterious ways (their brains and spinal cords are sucked out of their bodies through two small holes in the base of their skulls), the locals in the small town outside the base think that it may have something to do with the radiation, but Cummings tries to assure them that it is contained safely on the base. What no one realizes is that the deaths were actually caused by a scientist named Walgate (Kynaston Reeves), whose experiments in thought control, coupled with the radioactive energy he was able to harness from the base, have brought forth a strange brain-like creature that feeds on other brains to survive. With time running out and the townsfolk growing more mob-like by the minute, Cummings must figure out a way to stop the creatures before they are able to spread and take over the world.

Typical of the Cold War-styled films of the fifties, Fiend Without a Face addresses the use of nuclear energy not only as a military application, but for science in general. Though the message it gives is a little more forgiving towards the use of nuclear energy, it still carries with it the fear that many Americans felt about it in the fifties. What makes the film all the more interesting is the fact that it is entirely British made, but somehow was able to maintain a close relationship to American audiences.

Though there are some moments that make the film less than classic, it does actually have some pretty decent special effects, which were a rarity back in those days. Featuring extensive use of stop-motion animation to show off the "fiends" (brain-like creatures with spinal cord tails), no one expected to see anything like what this film presented. Even today, the special effects shown in this film mark some of the most incredible non-CGI effects to ever be featured on the big screen. To add to this, the film also featured some moments of unexpected gore (all of which centered on the fiends themselves), which audiences were not very accustomed to at the time.

Despite the great special effects, though, the film does have a cheesy fifties quality that keeps it from truly being the classic that many people consider it is. The sets are sparse and there is very little cast beyond the principles, plus they commit a horrible factual error by blowing up a nuclear facility (with no apparent danger of fallout)! The dialogue is also pretty laughable, particularly when discussing the fiends as "mental vampires" and also when talking about the intelligence of the creatures (they ARE giant mutant brains after all... of course they are going to be intelligent!).

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