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» » Fiend Without a Face (1958)

Short summary

A Scientist, experimenting with telekinetic powers enhanced by a nearby nuclear power plant succeeds in creating a new form of life. This new creature grows in intelligence until it finally escapes his laboratory. Once outside the lab, and closer to its nuclear power source it multiplies. The creature is also invisible, so no one knows what it looks like...

The Criterion Collection DVD has a hidden gag on it added by the authors. If you check the disc name/ID on a PC through various means, the ID reads AFIENDINNEEDISAFIENDINDEED, i.e. "A fiend in need is a fiend, indeed".

In an interview, star Marshall Thompson recalled that director Arthur Crabtree didn't really want to direct the film--he thought sci-fi was "beneath" him--and often didn't show up for work. Eventually, according to Thompson, Crabtree walked off the picture, and Thompson himself finished directing it.

A publicity stunt went somewhat wrong in New York City. The Rialto Theater in Times Square featured a sidewalk promotion for the film--one of the prop "brain creatures" was displayed in a cage on the sidewalk outside the theater, wired for sound and motion. However, the crowd it attracted grew so large that they were snarling pedestrian and vehicle traffic, and the police demanded that it be removed.

The film created a public uproar after its premiere at the Ritz Theater in Leicester Square. The British Board of Film Censors had already demanded a number of cuts before granting it the "X" certificate.

This 1958 British production was based on "The Thought-Monster" by Amelia Reynolds Long, which was published in the classic American pulp magazine "Weird Tales" in 1930. The story was originally submitted by Forrest J. Ackerman in the late 1950s to American-International Pictures, which turned it down. AIP producer Alex Gordon thought that his brother, New York-based producer Richard Gordon, might be interested in it, so submitted it to him. Richard Gordon liked it, and his company Amalgamated Productions eventually produced it in England.

This film is part of the Criterion Collection, spine #92.

In the US, MGM distributed this film second on a double-bill with Torpedo Run (1958).

User reviews


  • comment
    • Author: Agalen
    I first saw this movie in the early sixties on a double bill with The Haunted Strangler. Being a young lad, I was not paying attention to the details of the movie, but rather was impressed with the overall "spookyness" (is that a word)? Anyway, I remember the contrail of the B-52(sometimes a B-47 was used, who would notice)flying high overhead during the radar experiment. For some reason, I always thought of this as being some type of alien craft circling high overhead, ready to rain crawling, slimy,invisible brains down onto an unsuspecting Canadian population. I remember that when I got home from the theater, I boarded up my bedroom windows by jamming Lincoln Logs in between the panes. I WAS FREAKED OUT. I mean, after all, how do you defend yourself against invisible creeping cerebral sucking brains? I'll take Godzilla any day (you can see that big boy coming from miles away). Well, I just watched Fiend Without A Face again for the first times in forty years. Although I better understand the plot now, and know that those nasty flying gobs of brain matter did not come from outer space, it still is a great movie. My wife was upset at me after I boarded up our bedroom windows, this time with 2 x 4s. You gotta watch this 50s masterpiece. Respectable acting, thoughtful plot, and hokey special effects that you just gotta love.
  • comment
    • Author: Coiril
    This is one of those scary flicks I saw in the early 70's when I was very young (six years old, probably), and probably it was the scariest thing I saw at that time. Certainly, there was no other film like it. I really wonder what sort of attitude the filmmakers had when this was being made. Were they giggling fiendishly, thinking of all the people they would scare with these images? (Scaring people was obviously their plan.) Did they think the movie they were making was "cool"?

    The action-packed climax is pretty much the last fifteen minutes of the film. The brain creatures attack the people in the house, and pretty soon, bullets are flying, axes are being swung, and brains are being sucked. In my mind, this completely, mind-blowingly over-the-top ending scene seemed to go on forever, like a seriously bad nightmare. It was so repellently real. The creatures have no eyes, and they sort of "sense" your presence electrically to zero in on you, before flying up at you and clamping themselves onto the back of your neck. The depiction of this was pretty effective, and it still surprises me how well thought-out the creature imagery was here. Surprisingly realistic.

    It still works, quite well! Go see it.
  • comment
    • Author: GEL
    Fiend has everything that a 50's Sci-Fi movie should have; a really square hero that saves the day, a beautiful female lead that falls for him, atomic power misused, and an invisible monster that sucks the brains out of its victums.

    It is the stop motion animation at the end when the monster(s) become visible that really makes this film work. Without the animation by Peter Neilson and Ruppell this would be just another 50's atomic caution tale.
  • comment
    • Author: Welahza
    I've seen Fiend Without a Face a couple of times and enjoyed it. Despite it being set in Canada, this is a British made movie.

    A series of strange deaths where peoples' brains and spinal cords are sucked out of their bodies are the responsibility of strange brain monsters with tentacles and spinal cords attached. These are the result of a mad scientist's experiments that have gone wrong. These monsters are invisible at first but appear as they get stronger by absorbing nuclear energy from a nearly power plant. These monsters are killed at the end when Major Cummings blows the power plant up, causing the brains to disintegrate.

    Fiend Without a Face is rather gory for its time and the brains look impressive.

    The cast is lead by 1950's sci-fi regular Marshall Thompson (It!, the Terror From Beyond Space). I haven't heard of any other of the other stars.

    This is a must for 50's sci-fi fans like myself. Great fun.

    Rating: 3 and a half stars out of 5.
  • comment
    • Author: Xig
    A fringe scientist involved with mind over matter experiments unwittingly unleashes a horde of horrible, invisible, brain-sucking

    whatchamacallits in this 1958 thriller that isn't nearly as bad as it sounds. Although Canadian sci-fi films are usually an oxymoron, this one is at least entertaining, even though it makes use of the standard fifties cause celebre: atomic radiation. As a payoff for the audience, we finally get to see the "fiends" when the power from the conveniently nearby nuclear reactor is cranked up to reveal them as. . .brains. With brain stems. And antennae. And some surprisingly good stop-motion animation. Marshall Thompson, that staple of fifties B movies, does yeoman duty in this film by not only starring in it, but actually taking over the reins of director when the "real" director Arthur Crabtree showed up on Day 1 and refused to direct! It seems that Crabtree angrily told the producers "I don't do monster movies" and walked off the set, whereupon Thompson, to his credit, stepped up to the plate. Crabtree came back, a few days later, and the rest, as they say, is history.

    All in all, "Fiend without a Face" may not be in the same league as, say, "The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms", but it's not really all that bad, either. Make a big bowl of popcorn, or get some decent pizza, and enjoy.
  • comment
    • Author: Mavegelv
    One of my favorite of the low budget films, this one is an exercise in doing a monster film RIGHT. The stalwart hero, Marshall Thompson, is posted at a joint US/Canadian base where a nuclear reactor is being used to make radar able to pick up enemies further away. Unfortunatly, a scientist nearby is also tapping into the power and he's created beings from his own subconscience (like the ID from Forbidden Planet) who have the nasty habit of sucking out peoples brains and spines! The end of this film is stellar with effects that had to take up a third of the films budget! No one whose seen this film can forget those little brain monsters! It deserves a higher rating than other voters gave it!
  • comment
    • Author: Hilarious Kangaroo
    Continuing my occasional series of "Films that Seriously Creeped Me Out as a Kid," we turn our attention to Arthur Crabtree's "Fiend Without A Face," a lovely little British cold-war thriller from back in the good old days when everything had to do with radar and atomic radiation.

    We open on a top-secret American radar base located way out in East Nowhere, Canada. Major Jeff Cummings is having no end of problems - his atomic-boosted radar experiments are going nowhere, the townsfolk are convinced that non-existent fallout from the nuclear reactor is harming their livestock, and an unseen attacker is killing off the locals by sucking their brains and spinal cords out the back of their necks - which, somehow, is supposed to be the Air Force's fault, as well.

    Fortunately, the first victim has a cute sister, Barbara, who works as a secretary for the local retired mad scientist, Prof. Walgate. The Professor is an expert on brain function, cybernetics (unfortunately spelled "Sibonetics" on the cover of his book - he should talk to his publishers), and psychic phenomena. He's been siphoning the atomic radar to power his secret experiments in "materializing thought." Working together, they determine that invisible creatures accidentally created by Walgate's experiments are responsible for the killings, and that the cows are growing accustomed to the sound of the jets and will soon return to normal milk production. (Hey, the movie makes a big deal about it, so I figured I should mention it, too.) As events build to a climax, the creatures trap all the principles in the Professor's house, kill everyone at the base, and sabotage the reactor to prevent it being shut down. Then they crank the power up to the max, allowing them to become visible and revealing them to be disembodied brains with spinal-cord tails, eyestalks, and tentacles. (This was probably a bad move on their part, since it makes it much easier to shoot at them.) As the Bad Brains assault the Professor's house, Major Jeff makes a desperate effort to reach the reactor and blow it up to cut off the creatures' power supply, and allow him to live happily ever after with Barbara.

    As atomic creature films go, this is one of the best. Particularly notable are the brains themselves, brought to life with stop-motion effects easily on par with an early Harryhausen. And when shot, they bleed a nasty, black, sputtering goo in a wonderfully disgusting fashion uncharacteristic of films of the time.

    There are a few dumb moments, like the aforementioned book title, and the idea that blowing up the control room of an out-of-control nuke plant might be a good plan. But overall, this is a rarity - a cold-war monster film with a decent, solid plot, good acting, and top-notch effects. I highly recommend it.
  • comment
    • Author: Na
    I just picked up the Criterion Collection of this film - and as usual CC does a wonderful job.

    This film - when taken in context and time period - is pretty groundbreaking. Sure, the acting is stilted at times and the dialogue is a bit laughable - and the FX are dated. But the claymation/stop motion technique championed by Willis O'Brien and Ray Harryhausen is used to great effect and the film works remarkably well. The monster sounds are utilized well and reinforces an overall sense of creepiness - especially in the twilight forest scene. And the violent finale cannot be overlooked as an inspiration for "Night Of The Living Dead"
  • comment
    • Author: ZloyGenii
    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.
  • comment
    • Author: Adrierdin
    'Fiend Without A Face' is closer to the all out schlock of 'Teenagers From Outer Space' than it is 1950s SF/horror classics like 'Invasion Of The Body Snatchers' or 'Them!'. Director Arthur Crabtree, who went on to make the underrated 'Horrors Of The Black Museum', allegedly walked off the set after he read the script, and it's not that hard to see why. The story is full of scientific nonsense about atomic power creating "mental vampires", invisible monsters that suck people's brains out. When they eventually become visible towards the latter part of the movie they are actually brains with spinal columns attached, which they use to propel themselves along the ground before leaping in the air to attack their prey! These sequences are absolutely hilarious and make this a must see for all fans of trashy sci fi. The hero is played by Marshall Thompson who starred in the much better 'It! The Terror From Beyond Space' the same year. 'Fiend Without A Face' is a very silly but enjoyable b-grade monster movie, and if that's your scene, I highly recommend it. I had a great time watching it and plan on doing so again soon.
  • comment
    • Author: Alsanadar
    Okay, so the first hour of this 74-minute non-epic is padded to

    the gills with seemingly silly dialogue, off-kilter acting, and

    budgetless set design. I would argue that there is more than

    meets the eye in the film's script, though, to the degree that it is a

    surprisingly intelligent, supernatural take the atomic age. A highly

    enjoyable hour which provides more than mere camp appeal. But - wow - that last 15 minutes! You can see everything from

    THE TINGLER, to NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD, to ERASERHEAD,

    to EVIL DEAD being born in the film's glorious finale! After being

    blown away by the film's (beautifully animated and frankly

    disturbing) ending, I watched the film again, and admired how the

    the seemingly thin first hour actually builds quite ingeniously to the

    climax. I was also impressed with the tasteful application of gore

    at the end (which could be generically attributed to the film's British

    sensibility), giving it both a shocking and alluring quality. The more I think about this supposed schlocky B-film, the more

    I appreciate it. Sometimes mainstream critics such as Mr. Maltin

    miss the boat, and this is precisely one of those times.
  • comment
    • Author: Mautaxe
    A US military installation has been set up in Canada for some special tests and experiments of an atomic nature. People begin to die from the surrounding countryside by having their brains and spinal chords sucked out by what lead actor Marshall Thompson calls "mental vampires." Thompson, quickly flirting with the sister of one of the dead men, does his usual adequate job playing detective trying to prove that the new base is not responsible for the deaths. It seems that someone or something is siphoning atomic power. Without ruining the who behind the what, Fiend Without a face is a pleasant, interesting excursion into 50's sci-fi. The fiends turn out to be brains that pulse and scrape the ground with long spinal chords attached. This film has a low budget but manages to scare up a few thrills. The acting is mediocre at best. The fiend creation are somewhat novel. Although much of the film is lacking in suspense, the finale is a good payback.
  • comment
    • Author: Anararius
    For its time, (1958) this movie was very well done. The brain monsters were done by a stop-action sequence commonly used in the era by such diverse features as "Jason and the Argonauts" and TV series "Davey and Goliath" and "Gumby".

    The writing made Fiend Without a Face an interesting period piece because the political overtones made it more engaging than the typical grade b sci-fi thriller. It takes place in an era of Fallout Shelters and Civil Defense. The brain monsters were created by mental energies of the eccentric (not mad), however, fear associated with atomic energy is an underlying theme.

    The doctor did not intend to create monsters, he wanted to manipulate something via his brain-power which, tragically turned on him. This plot device plays on the fears of American movie-goers at that time associating nuclear energy with bombs and radioactive fallout, foreshadowing Chernobyl and Three Mile Island.

    The ending has similarities with the other camp classic horror flick "Day of the Triffids" and; of all things, the "Wizard of Oz". Each evil entities in each film are killed by a relatively simple weapon.

    This being said, I was under 10 years old when I first saw 'Fiend Without a Face' on a local movie horror program in the 1960's. Man, did it creep me out! This black and white gem had more power than the Technicolor blood n' guts films of the computer generated era.
  • comment
    • Author: Bulace
    Ask Jon Mulvaney why he considered "Fiend Without a Face" interesting and unique enough to make it part of his CRITERION collection.

    The first half of the film is generally horrific, as Marshall Thompson tries to learn the secret of the bizarre, brutal murders by the invisible monsters. While the shock effects didn't fully live up to the story's potential, the German animated creatures are serviceable enough, especially for a low-budget 50s scifi.

    WARNING: SPOILERS

    About the only thing I didn't understand was why the arrogant villager escaped with radiation burns and the mind of an imbecile. No one else suffered radiation burns, even though the scientist had used nuclear power to create the creatures.

    Some don't understand WHY the creatures were simply brains with spinal cords and columns. They apparently weren't listening too closely as the scientist explained he had diverted some of the energy from military base's nuclear power plant for his telekinesis experiments. The creatures were created from pure thought, and the scientist had chosen to make them simple as possible. The physical essence of an intelligent vertebrate is its brain and spinal column, and that's what the scientist envisaged.

    "Fiend Without a Face" is one the most, pardon the pun, thought provoking scifi-horror films of the 50s, and is worth a "7".
  • comment
    • Author: Nahn
    I've read many comments about this movie from those that I assume just recently viewed it. In 1958 my brother and I saw this film at the local theater. It must have cost us at least 35 cents to see it and one other movie. To sum it up it scared our socks off. Remember that sick feeling you got in you stomach when you watched Alien for the first time. That same feeling and probably worse is what we experienced. The shear terror of the invisible beast and the subtle way the movie lead up to revealing the monster created a tension an 11 year kid in the fifties was not ready for. At the time this movie was actually banned in certain countries. This is a fact, not just media hype. With all the high-tech movie making of today it will get harder and harder to scare the sophisticated movie buff. But in 1958 this one sent us home afraid to walk in a dark room or turn our backs to a dark corner.
  • comment
    • Author: Laitchai
    This is a great flick, first one to get really graphic with the gore. There is some great stop motion effects in this movie for the brain monsters. Very, very cool. The way they bleed different color blood was so cool. But it's not all good, like allot of fifties monster movies, it lags at certain points and drags it self along. But that's not that often. Let's talk acting for a second, I think the acting in this was first rate. The cast, even though there we're any big stars did a great job. The concept of radiation bringing out monsters from the subconscious is a tad far-fetched but they blamed all kind of monsters on radiation in those days. Plus, I never heard of a army base having a nuclear generator. Oh well, I give FIEND WITHOUT A FACE...9 STARS
  • comment
    • Author: Gamba
    The plot to "Fiend Without a Face" appears absurd on paper today; it was probably also perceived as somewhat absurd in 1958, although the collective cultural consciousness at that time was less judgmental when it came to films about walking, moving brains and "mental vampires." The plot hinges on a US-Canadian military base that becomes inundated with creatures that are the offspring of a local atomic experiment, and Marshall Thompson is in charge of investigating a string of mysterious deaths as a result.

    In some ways just as hokey as you'd imagine, and in others ten times more sophisticated than you could ever predict, "Fiend Without a Face" is a prime example of '50s sci-fi schlock done right. It borders on absurdist science fiction, but the political climate of 1958 speaks to the film's nuclear content and the imagined terrors of the period.

    Accentuated by some impressive use of stop-motion animation in creating the animated brain-things is one major highlight of the film, coming into full focus as it reaches its finale. Again, all hokiness aside, the actual concept of the villainous creature(s) is grotesque— living, moving brains with spinal cords— and that alone is enough to lend some heebie jeebies no matter how fantastical that may be. Classy black-and-white cinematography provides the usual appropriate framing of darkness and shadows common to the horror films of this era, and there are some great compositions on display here.

    Overall, "Fiend Without a Face" is everything you'd probably expect from a film about killer brains, but the fact remains that, at the end of the day, it's quite simply a really well-made film. It delivers equal numbers of suspense and visual flair, it's classily shot, and the special effects are a treat. It may be the cinematic equivalent of a '50s dimestore sci-fi novel, but that's fine by me. 9/10.
  • comment
    • Author: Kirizius
    Though it gets going slowly (the "fiends" remain invisible throughout most of the movie, putting in a corporal appearance only toward the end, when gorged on atomic power), it's the stop-motion animation siege at film's end that makes this one so noteworthy. The fiends (referred to as "mental vampires" by their creator) certainly rank as some of the most unique monsters in the annals of fright films. (Ask the folks who "borrowed" the look for the "face-huggers" in the ALIEN films.) FIEND WITHOUT A FACE is also surprisingly graphic for its time: when the fiends are shot, they gush buckets of blood before dissolving into a steaming puddle of... fiend... Marshall Thompson (who'd battled the title It in IT!, THE TERROR FROM BEYOND SPACE) is solid (as ever) as the hero, despite a limp-wristed attempt by the filmmakers at a '50s style "touch and go" romance (she's spoken for, thankfully, so it doesn't go beyond the "in passing" phase- until the very end). It's the aforementioned stop-mo siege that makes this one a must-see.
  • comment
    • Author: Faegal
    To start off in a horribly clicheed manner, if you can't say anything nice, you're not supposed to say anything at all. Considering that this Fiend Without A Face came about in a decade when sci-fi was generally considered grade-Z clap trap, one would assume that I'd not have anything polite to discuss in regards to this film. Well, then again, maybe you wouldn't think that - Fiend is, after all, on Criterion, a bastion of intelligent film-making. So maybe, just maybe, Fiend Without A Face is an unjustly maligned masterpiece - a brilliant satirical look at human faults and foibles allegorized through a tale of malevolent brain-beasts.

    I dare say, Fiend Without A Face falls somewhere in between. It's not schlock, nor is it masterful. It's a decent idea turned into a decent story (which someone had the foresight to save by not including the romantic subplot) acted by all right actors and directed with a steady hand. It's not Ed Wood; it certainly isn't Welles either.

    There are some beautiful shots, to be sure (the establishing shots of the air-force base and some of the images of a jet's trail are gorgeous), and solid acting. On the whole, though, Fiend Without a Face is simply a well-done sci-fi/horror amalgamation and does not necessarily deserve the full, Criterion treatment.

    Yes, the idea that atomic energy's greatest harm to mankind lies within our own psyches is interesting, but it's not as interesting as the paranoia of conformism that drove Body Snatchers. Yes, the acting is decent, but it's not as solid as the work done by a young Steve McQueen in the Blob. Fiend Without A Face is a movie that should not be forgotten, but it's also a film that should not be elevated to the level of greatness (which in some ways a Criterion edition somehow does).

    That said, if you have a passing interest in horror or sci-fi, or the 1950s, you will enjoy this film (it's short, sweet, and very much to the point). Again, it's a well-made film and deserves to be seen; it's not, though, one of the greatest films of the science-fiction genre.
  • comment
    • Author: Jazu
    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")
  • comment
    • Author: LivingCross
    *Spoiler/plot- Fiend without a Face, 1958. In Canada, a essential NORAD US Air Force base using experimental atomic power to extent missile watching radar deep into the USSR has a series of power surges. Local villagers are found gruesomely dead. The base is blamed. An alien species is discovered and addressed.

    *Special Stars- Marshall Thompson.

    *Theme- Atomic power use can cause major concerns by civilians.

    *Trivia/location/goofs- B&W. This film is a member of the prestigious Criterion Collection. This film was rated 'X" in the UK and had to censored to be exhibited there due to the scary aliens and violence. The stop-motion brain with spinal cord monsters are impressive for the time. One of the most memorable child's nightmare films of the 50's due to the graphic special effects.

    *Emotion- A memorable film primarily for the 'brain monsters' and how they move & attack their victims, are shot and destroyed. This is enjoyable vintage 50's atomic-age monsters at it best. A real viewer's treat.
  • comment
    • Author: funike
    Arthur Crabtree's 'Fiend Without A Face' used to play a lot on late night '70's television ( along with 'The Night Caller' and 'The Earth Dies Screaming' ). It scared the hell out of me the first time, and even now manages to elicit the odd shudder.

    It is set in Canada, where an experiment is underway at an Air Force Base to develop long-range radar with nuclear power. A sentry on guard duty is attacked by an invisible creature which sucks his brain out through two holes in his neck. Similar deaths occur in the village. Major Jeff Cummings ( Marshall Thompson, later to star in Ivan Tors' hit television show 'Daktari' ) investigates, and the trail leads to one Professor Walgate ( Kynaston Reeves ) who has been experimenting with thought power. He has inadvertently unleashed the 'fiends' - invisible for most of the film ( hence the title ) but when we get to see them they are truly horrible, resembling nothing less than human brains with waggling antennae and which propel themselves along the ground like caterpillars. The creatures were realised with stop motion animation, and are impressive for their time. What really makes them scary though is the ghastly sound effect which accompanies their attacks - a slurping combined with what sounds like a man with a wooden leg clumping upstairs. Once heard it cannot be forgotten.

    The climax has the main characters barricaded in a room while the fiends endeavour to break in by coming down the chimney and the window and so on. The film was shot in the U.K. hence the presence of British actors such as Reeves and Michaerl Balfour. The story has its absurd side, of course, such as Barbara ( Kim Parker ) embracing Jeff at the end, seemingly forgetting her father has just died.

    A nice little British sci-fi B-movie then. Joe Dante must have been a fan as his 'Looney Tunes Back In Action' ( 1998 ) features a cameo from the fiends!
  • comment
    • Author: Darkshaper
    Well, this movie was better then I had anticipated. Judging from the title and first impression, I thought it was going to be a cheesy, old horror movie. It turned out a lot better.

    Fiend without a face tells about an airbase. It's located close to a small town. The villagers don't take kindly to the base, since they use atomic power in it. The farmers believe this is disrupting the cow's milk production. This is only a side plot however, since the main problem is an unknown presence that kills people in a gruesome way...

    The acting in this movie is nice. It's certainly better then 'your average' black-and-white horror movie. I especially liked the leading characters and the professor.

    There isn't much music in this film. It's actually quite effective when they don't use music during the creepy scenes. This counts for a lot of movies, if you want my honest opinion.

    The special effects are good for it's time. It didn't look fake or cheesy to me at all. I've seen worse, FAR worse in countless other movies of the same time period.

    In conclusion, Fiend without a face is certainly not a bad movie. I can recommend it for fans of strange black-and-white horror movies.

    It's creative for sure, so for that reason alone I give it 5 stars, but I will add 2 more for the other aspects I just mentioned. That brings the rating to a grand total of 7 out of 10 stars. A job well done.
  • comment
    • Author: Runehammer
    Fiend Without A Face is based on a 1930s pulp magazine story called "The Thought Monster". Marshall Thompson is a Major on an air force base in Canada. The military is developing long range radar that uses nuclear power. The local farmers are upset because the jets are noisy and frightening the cows causing them to under-produce milk. But much worse, some of the locals are found dead with their brains sucked out of two small holes in the back of their necks. Eeek!

    Thompson investigates Professor Walgate who seems to have something to do with it all.

    Fiend is a standard grade-B sci-fi flick from the 50s. I happen to be a sucker for 1950s grade B movies. I actually love them even though they are not very good usually. If you are like me you'll like Fiend. The acting and dialog varies from average to embarrassing and most of the film is pretty boring, but it's short.

    The monsters are invisible until the end but they are interesting movie creations. They're done with stop-animation. They should be comical but for some strange reason I've always found them extremely creepy.

    If you've seen It The Terror From Beyond Space with Thompson you have an idea of the quality of Fiend.
  • comment
    • Author: Rrinel
    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
  • Complete credited cast:
    Marshall Thompson Marshall Thompson - Maj. Cummings
    Kynaston Reeves Kynaston Reeves - Prof. R.E. Walgate
    Kim Parker Kim Parker - Barbara Griselle
    Stanley Maxted Stanley Maxted - Col. Butler
    Terry Kilburn Terry Kilburn - Capt. Al Chester (as Terence Kilburn)
    James Dyrenforth James Dyrenforth - Mayor
    Robert MacKenzie Robert MacKenzie - Const. Gibbons
    Peter Madden Peter Madden - Dr. Bradley
    Gil Winfield Gil Winfield - Dr. Warren
    Michael Balfour Michael Balfour - Sgt. Kasper
    Launce Maraschal Launce Maraschal - Melville
    Meadows White Meadows White - Ben Adams (as R. Meadows White)
    E. Kerrigan Prescott E. Kerrigan Prescott - Atomic Engineer (as Kerrigan Prescott)
    Lala Lloyd Lala Lloyd - Amelia Adams
    Shane Cordell Shane Cordell - Nurse
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