Fiend Without a Face (1958)   Leave a comment

fiend

“They’re mental vampires!”

Set at an Air Force Base in a rural part of Canada, Fiend Without a Face is your basic ‘science just got too big for its britches and we’d better stop it before all the people and cows and chickens in this berg kick off’ kind of film.  The air base houses a nuclear plant whose power, combined with the experiments of local retired scientist Professor Walgate (Kynaston Reeves) create weird creatures which suck the brain and spinal fluid from their victims leaving them somewhat the worse for wear.  As Tourneur did in the far superior Cat People, director Arthur Crabtree waits until the second half of the film to show the truly bizarre creatures.  Made in England at a time when that country’s effects seldom shined, the creatures in Fiend are stellar and probably the reason I was able to watch this on a Criterion DVD as opposed to one I might find in a bin for $4.99.  The acting, while average to above-average for a film with lines like, “You ever try sleep instead of Benzedrine?  You might like it.” And “What have I unleashed?” certainly didn’t warrant a Criterion release. Marshall Thompson of Daktari fame, stars as Major Cummings, the man with the plan to foil the brain sucking freaks. This film has some great Shatneresque deaths, fun ‘the creature is about to fly’ sound effects, terrific protective pleather jumpsuits on the nuclear power plant workers, gross blueberry jam brain goo with sounds to match, and some cool mental vampires. The first half of this film had me wondering if the hefty Criterion price tag was worth it.  The second half let me know it was.

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