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Fiend Without a Face (Criterion Collection) (1958)

Cast: Marshall Thompson, Marshall Thompson, Kynaston Reeves, more...
Director: Arthur Crabtree, Arthur Crabtree
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Rating: Not Rated
Studio: Criterion
Genre: Cult, Foreign, Horror, Science Fiction , Killer Critters, UK, Criterion Collection
Running Time: 74 min.
Subtitles: English
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This sci-fi horror cult classic is based in and around a U.S. long-range radar installation in the Canadian wilderness, where soldiers and civilians alike are being struck dead by an unseen force. At first, the base commander believes these murders may have been the work of spies operating out of the woods -- a theory supported by unexplained fluctuations in power output from the base's nuclear plant. Because of the proximity of this reactor, residents of the nearby town begin to suspect the deaths are due to a radiation leak. The real answer turns out to be far more insidious. Autopsies reveal that the victims' spinal fluids have been sucked dry through holes at the base of their skulls. The bizarre murders are eventually linked to the work of psychic researcher Professor Walgate (Kynaston Reeves), whose experiments materializing human thoughts have not only been causing the power fluctuations, but have resulted in the creation of invisible brain-monsters. When the creatures attack the plant operators, a massive surge of radiation is released, revealing the creatures in all their hideous glory -- depicted by marvelous stop-motion animation -- as leaping, tentacled brains with wriggling antennae. This leads to the film's notoriously gory final act, in which the brain-things surround our heroes in a mountain cabin, descending in droves as the dwindling band of survivors hack, chop, and blast away at the beasts. After a slightly sluggish start, this intelligent and well-crafted thriller kicks out all the jams for a horrific climax, distinguished by some of the goriest effects seen in any film from the 1950s. ~ Cavett Binion, All Movie Guide


  • Audio commentary: a conversation with executive producer Richard Gordon and genre film writer Tom Weaver
  • Illustrated essay on British sci-fi/horror filmmaking by film historian Bruce Eder
  • A collection of trailers from Gordon Films: Fiend without a Face, The Haunted Strangler, Corridors of Blood, First Man into Space, and The Atomic Submarine
  • Rare still photographs and ephemera, with commentary
  • Vintage advertisements and lobby cards

GreenCine Member Reviews

ONE OF THE VERY BEST. by Dayna February 13, 2007 - 5:40 AM PST
I had seen this movie on television and was really drawn in then i got my own copy and find it a very guilty pleasure of a movie. its actually very well done and happily no one has ruined this with a remake or sequel. i would think that anyone would find this a really fun movie.

Monsters from the Id by mdraine February 19, 2003 - 9:26 PM PST
8 out of 8 members found this review helpful
Many a young Baby Boomer was traumatized by a late-night viewing of this black and white science-fiction/horror hybrid. Presented here in a striking 16:9 transfer, this British/American production surpasses expectation via its imaginative premise, striking stop-motion effects, and a surreal climax, in which ectoplasmic entities materialize as ambulatory brains, latching onto the back of their victims necks and strangling them with dangling ganglion. Like the best science-fiction films of the Fifties, Fiend without a Face captures the sense of omnipresent peril ushered in by the atomic era, the atmosphere of a world rendered only darker by scientific discovery. -- Michael Draine

GreenCine Member Rating

(Average 6.62)
79 Votes
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