FIEND WITHOUT A FACE/1958
1958/Director: Arthur Crabtree /Screenplay: Herbert J. Leder
Cast: Marshall Thompson, Kim Parker, Kyanaston Reeves, Stanley Maxted, Terence Kilburn, Gil Winfield
This is a great little disembodied brain movie full of cold war paranoia and strange science gone awry angst. I could not figure out why these supposedly Canadian and American actors all had weird British or Irish sounding accents until I read that it was part of a series of British movies filmed during the late 50’s that were supposed to be set in the States. It is on the Criterion Collection which as I understand tries to find and transfer the best quailty prints possible. Well, the film looks great and is a barrel of fun. Plenty of unintentional laughs and some really disgusting looking brains that crawl like inch worms using their spinal cords.
The story takes place on and around an American military base somewhere in western Canada. The characters are typical 50’s sci-fi sterotypes… the dashing and sickingly noble hero and sexy but coquettishly innocent female lead who fall in love with each other after the obligatory cold period, the brilliant and ultimately altruistic scientist whose vision to help mankind turns against him and destroies him, and a whole slew of doofy supporting characters that hardly have a disembodied brain between the lot of them. The misguided doctor creates a machine that projects his thoughts as teleketic energy and soon he can move small objects around his room. This is to suppose to help the world somehow. His thoughs soon evolve into an invisible and muderous power that is later made visible by increasing the level of radioactivity at the military base. The creatures are stop-action animated brains that spurt gobs of blood when shot or hacked with axes. One scene I really liked was when some Canadian redneck (played by a Brit) comes mumbling into a room where a meeting of the towns folk is going on. His brain has been drained by the one of the beasts and the look on his blithering face is classic.
Definintly worth a look. Loads of fun and campy dialog that is taken seriously by the cast of bad actors. Check out the weird Jerry Lee Lewis lookin’ guy that runs the nuclear power plant. But the brain beasts are not the only radiactive matter in this fantastic B-gem. The movie contains enough plutonium to power a microwave for six months or more.