“The brain — it’s gone! Sucked out like an egg through those two holes!”
When residents near a Canadian military base blame its nuclear power plant as the cause of several recent murders, Major Jeff Cummings (Marshall Thompson) begins to investigate. Soon he suspects that a local professor (Kynaston Reeves) may know more than he’s letting on, and enlists the help of the professor’s pretty young assistant (Kim Parker) in learning more.
Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:
- Atomic Energy
- Mad Doctors and Scientists
- Mutant Monsters
- Science Fiction
I’ll gladly join the chorus of critics (see links below) who wonder what Criterion was thinking in selecting this rather average B-level sci fi flick for DVD restoration: while it’s not awful, it never comes close to the quality of artistic accomplishment Criterion is generally known for marketing. Fiend Without a Face is essentially yet another iteration on the timely yet overused theme of nuclear paranoia — an iteration which unfortunately suffers from a host of issues, including merely serviceable or sub-par acting by most involved; a cliched romantic subplot; an overly didactic explanation (via flashbacks) of how the “fiends without faces” came into being; a corrupt scientific premise; and rather iffy stop-motion animation (at one point, a brain explodes, but it takes a split-second for the innards to start gushing out — enough to notice the delay). While it may be of interest to ’50s sci fi fans and/or fans of mutant monster flicks, Fiend is certainly not must-see viewing for most film fanatics.
Redeeming Qualities and Moments:
- Kynaston Reeves as Professor Walgate
- Some gruesome special effects near the end of the film
No. While inexplicably chosen for DVD restoration by Criterion, this only-slightly-above-average B-flick isn’t must-see viewing.